My Life was rocking. I was able to meet my sales target month after month to earn my 3800/- every month.
I had started interacting with some “educated” people around. Although- not cultured enough. Niharika would treat everyone around as lesser mortals. Evilyn..?? She was a smart woman with good command over the language- behaved ultra- snob. Reality was far cry of it.
Ajay would be so favoring of any girl employee. Doting over her- until he is accepted as her big brother. The mannerisms and treating each other in public was pretty embarrassing to watch. He would encourage the “kiss” to greet culture. I am not a prude- I am not double standards either. For crying out loud, I don’t care about anyone else- much less speak about her or criticize about her. I do and did mind my own business- even back then. Maybe that’s what didn’t go down well.
I had purchased a couple of suit lengths from Lakshmi Nagar. Getting them stitched in offbeat designs, I had managed to balance my walk on that tight rope well. Now comes the running on it part.
On one light- work day, Deepak had wanted me to call Trishna- the bar then. There was this guy whose name was somewhat “peculiar”, and Anshu and him had wanted to know his correct name. I had dialed the bar. A nice voice had answered my call- wanting to know my query. The ring had given him a clue that it was an internal extension call.
After talking to him for 5 minutes, I had told him my real reason of calling up. Upon hearing my query, that voice at the other end, had changed completely. He sounded amused. That name was supposedly Aunindyo. It then came out that I had been talking to him, for the past few minutes. Yikes..!!
Hearing me pronounce his name well, he had not wanted to stop the conversation. Now was the turn of my “cabin crew” to feel amused. That telecalling office was a small room. barely was there any place to move around. You could only walk in and sit; or keep sitting and walk out.
Mansi had wanted to see him. She was seeing a Bengali doctor- Sanjay Das then; now married to him. Maybe, she had wanted to meet another Bengali. Both of us had gone to the 1st floor to meet him. Aunindyo was a handsome and charming young guy. He looked pretty desirable. He was as if not wanting me to leave. Had he picked up some infatuation towards me?
An all expenses paid trip to Residency Manor, mussourie was organized in June. That was supposedly an annual trip gifted by the JP group for the telemarketers. I had refused to travel. I didn’t feel comfortable. Upon much coaxing and dragging, I had agreed to go. I shouldn’t have.
While traveling up the heights of the mountain, the van’s door had shut open. At an instant, I was flung out of the door leaning out half my body outside the vehicle. I was only planted at my feet wanting desperately to hold something and pull myself back inside. Just how I did that is a big- miracle to me till date. The van was travelling upwards. I could have suffered a fall down the cliff and lost my life; worse, become handicap.
Handa was cursed for such pathetic arrangement. Upon reaching the hotel, the rooms were given over. Officially, girls and guys were to stay separately; however, couple were formed. Mansi and Geetu had shared a room. She had made no bones gossipping about Geetu and Sameer’s nightly act.
I was placed with 2 girls from VC. I had met them only that day- they were the new joinees. As if someone had put a curse on my good time, soon Handa had started behaving obnoxiously. I had kept ignoring him. Obviously. He had stayed with one of his sisters..!! I had blatantly refused to be his sister or to stay with him. That had done it perhaps. In the evening, everyone was forced to drink before we hit the Dance- Floor. I had not- that must have fumed it.
Some apprehension was expressed by my room- mates and I had slept on the floor. The sofa’s seat was converted to a small bedding. Nevermind. The next morning, I had woken up early to click pictures. Loads of them. I had enjoyed one of my best times of my Life, walking through the clouds. The hotel itself was built beautifully. The original mountain rock too was preserved inside a glass room.
If you stand at the open terrace where they serve the breakfast till 10.30am, you could see yourself standing surrounded by mountains. If you look down, you would see Soon valley. Standing at that terrace, hearing the church bell while fog still covered that church was enigmatic. I still have an image captured in my mind. There were swings too. At one corner of that terrace, was a single dome, fort like construction. I have always wanted to have one of those in my personal estate 😀 I would sit for my evening coffees there.
Myriad colored flowers sprung around. The entire property was a paradise on the whole. White palace amidst the mountains. Serenely beautiful. Given an opportunity, I can spend a month there. Only a month- because my wish- list is rather log. I have may other places to stay in and feel good about.
Sanjay had as usual become his worst self after a couple of drinks. He had lifted me while I was still dancing. One tight slap had not made any difference. It had acted as a fuel. He had circled the whole of Dance Floor before putting me down. I had resigned to my room immediately.One of the girls, Preeti seemed to have become more cordial. My room- mates had asked me to share the bed with them. I had not. I had stayed on my make- shift arrangement.
The next morning was planned by a Devil. My stomach ached and I could barely move around. Maybe, my sub- conscious had known what was coming. I had stayed in my room. Geetu and Mansi had come in to check on me up. They were aghast to see me toiled on the floor. I had had enough till then. I had stopped reacting. Both the women had wanted to know if I had been to RM earlier..!!
If only someone could tell them that I didn’t earn enough. Perhaps, my boyfriend..? Why would I go out to earn then? Or maybe- Ralhan? That was it. In limp words, I was told that I either go and sleep with Handa or he travels this news. I had caught him off- guard when I had wanted to meet the one who claimed to have “seen” me, with him in that hotel or wherever- not that that was any of his business.
The same evening, Sanjay had again created a nuisance in the disc. Another of my slaps were planted. The shameless man he was, he had kept giggling. You maybe wondering- how could I still have gone to the disc. Really, can you say no while with office peers? Specially when the arc light focuses on you? A few of us were in disc- where were the couple again? The official couple and the brother- sister duo? he less I say here- the better that would be.
The nagging was still on. What for?
Ajay’s idea had fallen flat on his face. Sanjay had come to his true colors. “Olivia, you are all by yourself. There’s no one around that you are answerable to- why don’t you enjoy your Life a little more? If you have objections to Ajay being married, I am not..” An embarrassed me had sat quietly tying to understand those words. So had the entire room- not a single soul had spoken. If that was not enough, I was made to sing- “to break the ice” too.
At 19, I wasn’t really ready to handle such a tricky one. Just the mere remembrance is enough to put me to tears. Since Gursharan, Mamta, Shafali and Debjani had traveled last year, they had not joined us that year. All I had wanted was to reach home safe and sound. Ajay was pretty capable. What if he had arranged to force someone on me?
Preeti had come to my defense then. While travelling back, she had sat conversing with me. After knowing a couple of things, she had stood supporting me as a good friend would. Mansi had been almost over Ajay in her sleep. So was Ajay in his sleep. Ajay was sat between his 2 sisters. His hands definitely weren’t where a brother should place his. Ditto was while travelling to RM. Mansi had been most ashamed one to have seen the brother sister duo; what now? This is not even double standards, they were devoid of any.
Sahil had escorted me till my home. One another spineless colleague, he was moved to VC only after a few days, after I was shifted to HS. Sanjay was asked to report to VC too. At work, I had not talked to anyone. After observing me being silent for 2 days, Gursharan had nudged me. Both Deepak and Anshu were gone for their lunch. I had broken down badly. I could barely stop crying. That’s when he had promised me to stay friends.
He had held himself responsible for coaxing me to go over to see that lovely property (RM). Thereafter, he had proven to be my best friend. We were in touch till a few years back. It was after I got married, that I lost all my contacts with everyone around. I am still looking out for him.
Hopefully, someday I’ll crash on my friend again.