This is a story I had originally published in our office newsletter. Since I was the editor of that as well, I am not violating any copyright to best of my knowledge and belief.
"Reminder: request all of you to assemble at conference room now for discussing about Onam plans". Sanjith normally ignores meetings and mails, which are not related to his work. But today was a different day. Morning he had a fight with his onsite co-coordinator and he was in no mood to work all day. Abhishek, his onsite counterpart had sent a list of nine comments about the misses in the code and document, which Sanjith delivered previous day. Out of the nine, one was Sanjith's mistake, one due to a communication gap but rest seven were correct as per requirements doc and Abhishek had not read it carefully. Sanjith was fully agitated not because someone made a big list of issues in his delivery but because he had copied everyone related to the project, account and unit the mail. He went through all the points again and again and finally replied with his comments inline. He replied only for the first 5 points. The valid points were 6th and ninth. After 5th he wrote, "Since all the so far mentioned points are incorrect, I did not read the rest of the mail". What followed was expected, a conf call with Abhishek with onsite and offshore Project Managers involved, a meeting after that with Project Manager and then seniors meeting the PM and asking the details. After all this, Sanjith had no interest to work during the day. So when he received the meeting reminder he locked the computer and proceeded for the meeting.
Sanjith had thought that he might be the only one not attending such meetings; he was surprised to see that only about twenty-five people were there. He did not take part in any of the discussions but found the whole thing interesting. Only unwanted thing happened to him was he was "volunteered by someone" to be part of some committee which had one more guy and three girls. Anima was one of his teammates. Immediately after the meeting got dispersed, she came and introduced herself to him. Anima started pouring out her ideas and others in the team Ramesh and Shalini joined soon. Neetha the last of their committee member did not join the conversation. Anima had lot of energy and Sanjith somehow felt at ease after feeling very uneasy being in the committee.
Sanjith was always a serious student and "meant business" employee. From the college time itself he was more fascinated by the shape of cathode ray tube than hourglass. Now he started finding that talking to girls was not that tough or boring. Neetha was beautiful to Anima, but he became more close to Anima because she was full of energy and somehow he felt it more comfortable interacting with her. Within a few days they had become good friends. They had many things in common. Both were coming from village backgrounds, both had school teacher fathers and working mothers and both had a younger sister each. Both of them used to make fun of Neetha's talking style as well. Ramesh and Shalini seldom used to be part of the team meetings.
One day, just as they were going out towards the airtel shop, Sanjith got a call. It was a 2-3 minute long call and from the conversation, Anima understood it was some close friend of Sanjith and Sanjith celebrated his birthday just a few days back.
"Classmate? " She asked
"Yeah, my best friend during engineering "
"So it was your b'day and you did not tell me. When was it?"
"It was last Saturday"
"Belated happy birthday wishes from your latest friend"
" Your best friend missed your birthday by 3 days and you did not get angry on him? If my best friend did the same thing to me I would have killed her" She talked with a surprise tone.
"No in fact I felt good that he missed it"
"What?" Now she was really surprised.
"Yeah, that at least means he did not use any reminder tools to remember my birthday and remembered it himself, a little late though. That made me feel good" Anima's eyes widened. This guy is different and she was hearing such a point of view for the first time. She started having a little admiration for him for the first time and Sanjith definitely noticed it.
On the Onam day, as per planning he was supposed to have lunch in the second trip and she in the third. By the time he finished his onsite call and reached food court it was already full and he had to wait outside. Anima and her roommate came down in another 10 minutes and they started talking and it happened that they went together for lunch together. During the lunch conversation, they realized that both of them were going home that evening on the same train and in same compartment.
Sanjith had reached station well in advance. He was waiting there for Anima. As the time passed by he felt restless and impatient and then he had the self-realization that he has started loving her. Just ten minutes before train's departure time she arrived, with her was an handsome guy. Sanjith had not seen him before and was sure that he is not a colleague. Anima spotted Sanjith and introduced the new guy, Rajesh as her classmate in college and he was now doing MBA in the city. Three of them sat together and talked till it was night 10 and time to switch off the lights. It was clear like daylight from their behavior that Rajesh and Anima they were very close.
It was early in the morning when train reached Sanjith's station. So could not meet Anima while getting down. Throughout the weekend he could not stop thinking about Anima. He wanted to reveal his love towards her but was now in doubt after seeing her and Rajesh together. His mind was taking him to both directions. Some time he will console himself saying that Rajesh is just a friend and within few minutes he would think otherwise. For a moment he would think that he never saw Anima talking over the phone for long, a clear symbol for somebody in love. Suddenly he would remember Neetha telling that once she tried to reach Anima on her cell at night and it was busy for long.
Onam was on Monday but Anima was on leave for one more day. By Wednesday morning, when she resumed office, Sanjith was sure that if he does not clear the doubt and express his love, he might go mad. He just pinged her on messenger and after few "how are you" and "how was Onam" formalities he asked if they can have coffee together in the evening.
"Why don't we have it now? " She asked. “I am feeling sleepy after the night journey”
" I have a conf call in 10 minutes and it can probably go till 12:00"
“Ok then I am not disturbing you, carry on with you work. See you in the evening and yeah even I have something to talk to you".
Last sentence was more than what Sanjith could live with till evening. He managed to push the call for 30 minutes and pinged Anima to come for coffee.
"Okie dokie. I will be there in 5 minutes".
Sanjith could hear his heartbeat; he knew his face would show that he was tensed. Anyway he wanted to tell it to Anima before it was too late but more than that now he wanted to know what she has to tell. He washed his face, took some deep breaths and walked towards food court.
When they settled down with their Lattes, he told a lie to start the conversation that his onsite Abhishek postponed the meeting just 5 minutes before the call.
“Oh. These onsite people think they are dictators who can decide anything on their own. But that’s good this time, we could have coffee.” She stopped for a second and then continued “Hey how did you find Rajesh? ".
"Yeah he is very friendly and smart .....Nice guy". Those were the first few good words came to his mind two seconds after the minor tremor. “Your friend after all” Sanjith added with a pale smile or attempt to smile.
"Isn't he? You know he has a girlfriend; our junior and they may soon marry against the will of their parents. I could be the one probably signing as witness.”
Sanjith was on top of the world. Anima and Rajesh are not lovers! No news could have been better than this. He was ready to get a hundred people for being witnesses or even to physically protect the lovers.
"Ok, here is the big news. Among my friends I wanted you to know first after Rajesh". She took a sip, caressed her hair and with a smile continued; "One guy working in Microsoft had come over to see me on Saturday and my marriage was fixed yesterday."
Sanjith was shell-shocked. He did not know what to tell. Anima was not noticing that and started again. " You know all this happened in 3 days and he was telling...". Suddenly her phone started ringing. "Hey it's him. I need to pick this up okay ? Will introduce you to him sometime this week, bye " Without waiting for his reply, Anima just walked away with the coffee in one hand and phone close to her ear.
*Onam - Harvest festival of Kerala.