Having worked hard all day to complete the project, she expected that the least he could do was acknowledging her diligence. Yesterday she had reached home at 10 at night, all exhausted from the field trip. In spite of her headache she had sat by her study table collecting and filtering data, connecting factual reference, to complete the files that he had assigned to her. Completing her work she sighed with relief and fell asleep on her chair, too tired to review the work. As usual the dinner lay forgotten. It was 6 in the morning when she woke up after catching just two hours of sleep and had to do with Maggie for breakfast. Her head still burnt.

But she would have overlooked all the hassles endured, if only he could have uttered a few words of praises or thanks for her. She glanced up to have a look at the man, seated across the mahogany table going through her work or more precisely trying to find errors so that he could lash out at her. She knew what was coming as it had been a routine for the last two months.

Not wanting to probe the hurtful topic furthermore she diverted her eyes to look at the posters of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs adorning the wall of his cabin and the trophies beautifying the glass case. At this young age of 27 he had made his name in the corporate world .The trophies engraved with Mr ARUN KUMAR MEHRA were the testimonies to it. These had always been the source of inspiration for her and the achiever of those awards, her idol, her guide, her mentor and a true friend. But not anymore………

Her attention snapped back to present when she heard him closing the file with brutal force and standing up from his leather chair.

“What rubbish are you feeding me with, Miss Verma,” he roared coming towards her.

She shivered seeing the menacing gleam in his eyes.

“The progress chart you have put forth is totally incorrect, do you believe any investor is going to opt for our company if they read this rubbish of yours. Or are you planning to bring our company to the streets?”

“Oh I forgot why would you care, you have already left the company,” he retorted with the sarcastic tone in his voice.

Her eyes flew back to his in indignation.

She had silently listened to all his outbursts for the last few months convincing herself that she was the one at fault and she was entitled to these chidings. But now she couldn’t keep quite when the question was on her dedication.

“Sir, you have the right to chide me for my faults, but you can’t bring my dedication under question ,for in the 9 months of my working in Mehra Industries, I have been nothing less than hundred percent dedicated”, she made a valiant retort.

“Interesting …. I never knew quitting your job in spite of getting a promotion prior to the completion of the requisite could be called dedication, Miss.” He challenged.

She couldn’t believe her ears, of all the people on earth he was the one saying this. He should have known better how he had made her work 10 hours a day, not letting her rest, sending her to field trips though it wasn’t her department. She wasn’t getting paid for the last two months for working on the post of an employee because she was walking out before the minimum one year clause, yet she had put her heart and soul into the company.

“Let us make it vivid, Miss Verma, in spite of the merger the board has decided to appoint me as the core project member and I will not disappoint them. The meeting is scheduled for the next hour. I have worked very hard for this project and I won’t let anything short of a catastrophe ruin it for me, and not especially by you,” saying this he walked back to his chair.

“I want the correct file in the boardroom in next half an hour, at any cost,” he ordered, resuming his work.

She was hurt, very hurt by his actions.

If gloating gives him pleasure, she would let him have that, for his memories would be now the only sublimes left for her to cherish later.

Afraid that her tears may fall she somehow managed a ‘Yes Sir’ and turned to leave the cabin.

In the confines of her cubicle she let her treacherous tears fall. Wiping them furiously, she desperately searched for the papers to redo the file. Cursing herself for being the fool for having false hopes. This had been her routine for the past two months…cursing herself. At times she would sit by her desk trying hard to figure out the reason behind his changed demeanor. She galloped her memory lane for a single reason to give solace to her burning heart, but she could find none. It hurts to know the person whom you have looked up to, considered the mentor detests you that much.

Nine months back she had come to this city of Kolkata to join a good coaching institute. After her graduation she wished to pursue MBA. But this was not easy for a girl coming from a middle class family with four siblings and only a retired father to support them. Her father had opened a small grocery shop back in Ranchi after having retired from army. But the income was meager. To take the burden off her father she had applied for a part time job in Kolkata. But being inexperienced she could only garner the post of personal assistant in Mehra Industries. Yet she had looked upon this opportunity to familiarize herself to the business world and to gain experience rather than considering it a necessity.

Initially juggling between work and CAT preparation had taken a toll on her. At one point of time she had almost decided to quit. But then HE, her boss had been very supportive, guiding and motivating her all way along, encouraging her to pursue her dreams. It was HE who had taught her not to fret over toil and responsibility rather to take it as a challenge. Having faced the examination himself he helped her in the academic front too. That is why she had always respected him, adored him and considered him her ideal. They shared a bond much stronger than that of a boss and secretary. But things change…..

He stood there by the large glazed walls of his cabin facing the busy city of Kolkata. There was a crowd in front of him but he was lonely. He unsuccessfully tried to push away her thoughts, thoughts so sweet yet painful. Two months back, when she came out as one of the city toppers in CAT, he wasn’t surprised. He had seen that gleam and determination radiating out of her eyes. She reminded him of his own days of struggle when he had built his company from scratches. So with no second thought he resolved to help her fulfill her dreams. But in all this, he got accustomed to her presence. She had slowly made her place in his heart. Not wanting to divert his attention from his company, which was his prime concern, he tried hard to repress the feelings she evoked in him. He knew these kinds of distractions were detrimental for his company’s growth, besides she was 7 years younger to him.

But when she had taken a week’s leave prior to her entrance exam, he had missed her like hell. He never knew her presence had become a drug for him until then.

So during all the cheering and felicitation by her colleagues on her success when her expectant eyes had searched for his glance of appreciation, he had walked past her. He couldn’t bring himself to congratulate her, knowing she would be leaving soon. He had seen her eyes shimmer with unshed tears due to his indifference and callousness. But he knew he was the one, most elated at that moment as if it wasn’t hers, but his achievement too. Then he had done the most selfish thing, by promoting her from her post of secretary to a full fledged employee. He was hoping against hope, to allure her into staying, always beside him.

But he was wrong in doubting her priorities; after all she was just like him, strong-headed and adamant indeed. And this was the reason she was inducted in one of the leading B-School of India in Lucknow for which she would be leaving tomorrow.

SHE HAD CHOSEN TO LEAVE.

He tried his best not to be affected by avoiding her, constantly lashing out at her, making her work till late hours at night. Punishing the oblivious soul for making him suffer. Hiding his bleeding heart under the mask of indifference, he closed his eyes, clenching his jaw to control the anguish inside. The constant knocking brought him out of his reverie.

“Come in.”

“Sir the panel for the meeting has arrived, Mr Saxena is on his way too.”

“You receive them at the lobby, I will be there soon”, he replied still facing the glass walls, eyes clenched shut.

“Umm… Sir Ankita asked me to inform you that she has kept the file in the boardroom.” Her name made him open his eyes in an instant.

ANKITA VERMA.

Two meetings back to back had drained him to the core. He sat there in his cabin, pinching the bridge of his nose, trying hard to make that feeling of discomfort go. He had granted early leave for his employees when they had solicited, to attend her farewell party. He glanced at the watch, which by now was indicating 9PM. Time to wrap up. Grabbing his overcoat from the leather chair and the remote keys, he proceeded towards the elevator. He was just out of the lift when he heard noises coming out from the corner wing of the floor. The building was supposed to be empty. He saw the light of the last cubicle on and went to check.

“I suppose your presence was needed in your own farewell party.”
Startled she turned around.

“Sir …I left the party early since my few tasks were pending here, “she replied nervously gripping the sides of her kurti.

How can I put a question to her dedication? He remembered how he lamented after questioning her dedication earlier in the morning, just to hurt her.

“Don’t worry sir, I am done,” she replied, not getting any response from him.

He saw her hastily putting her belongings in her bag. She was stuffing all her things from her table into the bag as if to collect the memories. Wiping out any remnants, which might remind him of her. Her hands trembled as she put the idol of Ganeshji in a small box. Her body was shivering, eyes downcast almost on the verge of breaking down.
Seeing her like this, he decided to forget the last 9 months just as a figment of dream, crumbled. He didn’t want her to leave like this, on a bad note. He should stop holding it against her.

Maybe 7 years age gap isn’t much. Two years is not long. He will wait. Lucknow is not far. Right??? Only an hour flight from Kolkata. He can’t let her go without trying.

“Have coffee with me tonight.” Her eyes flew back to his.

AND THE DAM BROKE LOOSE.

2 thoughts on “CHOICES I : Dreams

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