Saturday, 21 December 2019

Part 1 AR FF : "and then she said it"

                         Part 1 : Know me


Bangalore.
Finally I am home. Having lived here for 25 years, before moving to Hyderabad, it gave me a sense of comfort while setting my feet on the sand. It might be foolish to say, but never mind, I missed this place terribly. Many of them say that there is no great difference between the concrete metropolitan cities but one can definitely differentiate one's home land, isn't it?

Moving out of the bus station, I looked around for a cab. Well, hailing a cab doesn't demand considerable effort in a city, but it was definitely a difficult task at 5 in the morning; especially on a chilly January day, it being Bangalore. I would have gone by a city bus otherwise, but with my luggage, I think it is unwise. As I stood at the entrance of the station, my gaze wandering around, my mobile greeted me a 'good morning' with its usual alarm. I switched it off and whistled towards a cab driver who was probably having a cup of coffee at the other end of the road. Thanks to the chilly weather, the city was still sleeping; so my voice reached him.



Piling up my luggage with the help of the driver, I slumped, exhausted, onto the rear seat after instructing the driver my destination. Exhausted- because of the long 11 hour night journey from Hyderabad to Bangalore by bus. But I love travelling by bus or by train. So I go for bus or train journey provided there is ample amount of time. I always feel that one can get to know the heritage of the real rural India by travelling by road.

Owing to the darkness, I couldn't see anything except for the colourful lights blazing the tranquil city, somehow reminding me of a new bride ready for her wedding day. Pulling the zip of my jacket up, I let my head fall back on the seat. My almost closed eyes fluttered open with a shrill ring of my mobile.

"Enjoy your break, little brat." It was a message from my Zonal Head (ZH), Mr. Ankit Kapoor, back at Hyderabad. I laughed at the pile of smilies that followed the text, which implied that he was positively jealous. Ofcourse why not? I was granted a long leave of 15 days after working like a donkey on one of the most prestigious projects of my company. So back to the point, my ZH who was my immediate reporting manager wasn't quite happy with my absence in his team, I smirked. I have to mention that he is a good man, in his late sixties. For some reason, he always addresses me as his little brat. He said that I resemble his deceased child.

Oh I am sorry, I guess I forgot to mention that I work for Global Insight Inc., a global business consulting firm, at Hyderabad, as a member of Human Resource Management team. I deal with talent acquisition, or campus hiring in simple terms apart from leading a team of technology consultants. With an MBA from a decent college, I ended up with four offers from MNCs of which I opted for the current one. It being January, which is a peak season for hiring processes at various colleges, I was apprehensive while requesting for a leave. However, I was granted one without any rustles.

Not only me, my colleague-cum-childhood friend Rahul, was also granted a leave. He was supposed to accompany me here, but the plan was dropped last minute due to some of his prior assignments with his team at the company. He was my friend since our high school. We were almost inseparable. I was pretty sure that my mom loved him more than myself as he spent most of his life at my house, owing to the fact that he was an orphan. He was a gem of a person. He stayed at orphanages, studied hard with his own money by taking up tuitions for the students of lower sections. He was my self-made brother, as I term it, to whom I was emotionally attached the most, the only exception being my mom, probably more than my dad.

"Saab, right or left?" The cab driver pulled me out from my thoughts.

Looking around the place, I instructed him to take right turn. As the car pulled up into our colony, I felt sadly happy. Happy- because I came back to Bangalore after a period of six months. I was sent to Poland by my zonal head to handle a project, which I have mentioned above, for six months which resulted in me not able to come here. Sad- because this is the very own place where I used to come for a jog with my dad. It was his death two years ago which paved way to my decision of taking up my job offer in Hyderabad. I felt suffocated to live here after his demise. But my mom was adamant on not leaving the place where she had built her world with my dad. I couldn't deny her either. So I let my mom live here while I took up my offer at Hyderabad.

My mom, who ordered me to come back home after my project at Poland, is one strong person emotionally. Not that I am boasting but, probably stronger than me. I was terrified she would be broken when my dad passed away due to cancer. But she proved me wrong by handling everything back then when I, being their only child who had to take the charge, had been wilting. So I wasn't much worried in leaving her here. Moreover most of my relatives live in the same city, with my uncle- my mother's brother, living just a flat away from ours. My mom was happy with my decision back then, so I went in search of a new world at Hyderabad two years ago.

My mom called me a week back when I was in Poland asking me to come home for a week or so. I was pleasantly surprised at the glint of happiness in my mom's voice when she called me. Not that she wasn't happy before; but after my dad's demise, her voice lost that particular spark that used to be present in it before. When I asked her about it, she exclaimed excitedly that she had got a new friend in the form of a new paying guest. It was me who came up with the idea of going for a paying guest so that my mom would get an amigo. Later I enquired about her from my uncle. But he said she was a pleasant lady and I need not worry. I am happy for my mom. At the back of my mind I also imagined her friend's appearance from my previous experiences of her kitty party. A short fat lady, with excessive make up, flaunting her new saree! That imagination cracked me up. Hey but wait, my mom isn't like that, mind that! Standing at five foot five inches, always in cotton sarees owing to her being a professor, she is a lady of anyone's dreams, as my dad used to remark. People say I got my good looks from my mom.

She sounded too happy and excited for my own comfort. Don't get me wrong, but when my mom is upto something regarding me; I am bound to get nervous, aren't I? From the last one year she was after my marriage. Somehow I was able to drag it for an year. But now, I had a bad idea that my mom is definitely planning something.

I am not against her either. I absolutely love her choice. Ofcourse being my mother, she knew me well too, I guess more than I myself do. I am not in any relationship either. So I let it be. But what intrigued me is that she made her my mind against telling me who she chose for me this time. I mean I have met few others before, but none of them was perfect, not according to me but according to my mom. Well I came to Bangalore being a single, but this time I am sure Hyderabad would welcome a betrothed me.

"Saab, we reached." Once again it was the cab driver. We reached my place in one hour. Again, he helped me with my luggage till the lift of our apartments. Paying him the fare, I walked upto a sleeping watchman and woke him up. His face broke into a wide smile recognizing me. He had been working as watchman for the past 30 years. My mom said that my dad brought him here from some village. And he had been the lone spectator of all my hidden mischeives during my childhood.

Requesting him to get my luggage upstairs, I pressed the elevator button of my floor, praying that my mom is at home. Giving into Rahul's idea of surprising mom, I didn't inform her that I would be coming today. I don't have a spare key either. So it's better that my mom is at home. Or else? Nothing, I'll stay at my uncle's place awaiting her return. However I don't think at 6 in the morning my mom would be away from home, except for her morning walk.

I rang the bell once and rubbed my palms to keep myself warm. My heart raced as I heard the bolt click. Oh come on, I am meeting my mom after six months; I am bound to be excited. Why not? I am proud to say that I am momma's boy. Now I can't help it if you think I am a typical momma's boy. Agey agey dekho mai kya kya rang dikhata hoon apna!

Hence, my readers, I'll catch you all later. And yeah before signing off, it's Armaan Mallik here, son of Mrs. Raji Arvind Mallik, friend of Mr. Rahul and would-be husband of Mrs. Someone yet to graze my life.

Sushmita

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