Tuesday, 11 June 2013

My Life's Tragedy - a short story

About this story
Every successful man has a story behind his success. Likewise Karthik too have one which he calls it a 'tragedy'. Read the story to know what exactly happened in his life. 

The work is a pure fiction and not related to my life or someone close to me. 



Every successful man has a story behind his success. Likewise I too have one which I call it a ‘tragedy’. It all started that day.

November 25
Somewhere around 3 PM
For no reason, I was staring at the pigeons that lay opposite to my balcony. I knew that I was wasting time, still I continued to stare at them. Suddenly my mobile beeped and I received a message from Subash. It read ‘Hey Karthik, I got a job in Wipro’. On seeing it, I paused the song that was playing in my iPod. I put my hand over my forehead and thought ‘everybody, almost everybody got their jobs. What am I doing here? Karthik….Man! You are finished'. Suddenly, a voice interrupted my thoughts. It was my cousin Kumar.
‘Hey! What are you doing here?’ He politely asked me.
‘Sunny,’ that’s how I call him, ‘Subash got a job in Wipro,’ I said it with frustration.
‘Karthik, just chill man. You still have time with you. OK tell me. What’s your interest?’
‘I want to get into IT’.

Man! Those words changed my life. As suggested by Sunny, I took up a course in Java and after clearing an eight hours long interview, I got into a small scale organization as a Trainee Programmer. Everything appeared fine, but not for long. I noticed that my life was slowly taking a turn towards the tragic side. Thoughts like ‘I should have never cared about Subash. I should have not taken Sunny’s advice seriously’ began to run in my mind after a month. Life turned into a hell there after.

Ten months passed and my life was loaded with routines. Even though I got promoted to Junior Program Analyst, it was no fun. I used to get up by five in the morning, wash my clothes and leave to office by six. I work for more than twelve hours and sometimes twenty hours. I had to sacrifice friends, family, movies, shopping, etc. I was like a slave whose remote control was in the hands of master (my boss). I used to work even on weekends. Some days I had to extend my work time till eleven in the night. That time, while returning home, I used to battle with few stray dogs. It was like an adventurous shit. Life was indeed a hell and everything seemed messed up till I met this guy Shekar.

September 11 (the next year)
The day I met Shekar
I parked my bike in the basement and got in to the elevator to reach my office, which was located on fourteenth floor. As it was early in the morning, the elevator seemed void. The door closed after I pressed the button ‘14’ that lay to my right side. The elevator passed one, two, three floors and halted at fourth floor. The door opened and a clean shaven guy wearing a suit got into the elevator. He gave me a smile and pressed the button ‘18’. The door closed and elevator moved past sixth, seventh and eighth floor. Suddenly I felt a jolt as the elevator stopped between eighth and ninth floor. The lights blinked constantly and became stable after a few seconds. I took the emergency telephone and spoke to the operator ‘Hello. We have a problem. The lift halted between eighth and ninth floor. Could you please send someone?’ The reply from the other side was ‘sir, we already noticed it and our technician is on the way. It will be rectified in twenty minutes. Sorry for the inconvenience’.
The guy next to me appeared cool as if nothing has happened while I was frightened at the scene. Twenty minutes! God! Twenty minutes in an elevator with a stranger seemed like the most awkward situation to me. But those twenty minutes changed my life.

Those twenty minutes
I started to sweat as the air was not sufficient to make me feel better. The guy next to me noticed that I was uncomfortable. He began the conversation.
‘Hello. My name is Shekar,’ saying this he put his right hand forward.
‘Hi! I am Karthik,' I said and shook his hand.
‘You seem tensed buddy. It will be rectified soon.’
I wiped the sweat off my forehead. ‘it’s not that I am tensed about.’ I spoke wiping my right neck.
‘Then what are you scared about?’ he asked me coolly.
‘Don’t remind that buddy. Today is my appraisal day and it reminds me that I still have one more year to work in this stupid organization.’ My voice seemed frustrated.
‘So, did you sign a service agreement or something?’ He questioned me.
‘Yes man! Two years. Two f***ing years.’
‘Whoa! Whoa! Cool down buddy. From your words I guess that you hate your job.’
‘Completely,' this time I spoke in a loud and clear voice.
‘Okay, so why can’t you resign and go for another one? I guess you need not have to pay such a large sum to break a bond. Am I right?’
‘No buddy. You are wrong. I have to pay three lakhs if I break my bond.’
‘Shit man! What was the problem you face at your workplace? Share with me only if you are interested to.’

One fine day
At my workplace
It was a Friday and I was working on a project which has to be delivered for testing that evening. I used different algorithms to develop a perfect code and there was Bhushan, my manager in charge, helping me out with my code.
‘Karthik. Use case statement instead,’ Bhushan said pointing to a particular portion of my code.
‘No Sir. It may produce errors if we alter it. Let me try it with this first.’
‘Karthik,’ he said in a louder tone, ‘is this how you speak to your senior resource?’
It was Bhushan’s ego that made him to speak like that. I was irritated by the way he spoke to me. Without uttering a word, I changed the code according to his way and submitted it for final analysis.
Shivaraman was in charge of the final testing. He was always strict when it comes to codes. He always wants the developers to design a code that gives 100% output. The code which I designed (of course, altered by Bhushan) produced some errors. Shivaraman got irritated at it. He called up Bhushan who arrived there in few minutes while I was standing next to him.
‘Bhushan. What the hell is this? We need to deliver this by an hour and now it’s producing errors. See I can’t withstand these types of things.’
Bhushan’s face turned pale. He began to stare at me and the codes. I was left there speechless.
‘Speak out Bhushan,’ Shivaraman said this looking at Bhushan.
‘Sir, actually the code was prepared by Karthik. I think he must alter something.’ Bhushan turned to me and angrily said, ‘Karthik, don’t you have any sense? Are you serious about your work? Now go and re work your code and I need you to give it back to Shivaraman by one hour. Quick!’
‘Sir, but…’ as I spoke Bhushan interrupted me.
‘Karthik! Do what he said’.

In the elevator – Eleventh minute
‘OMG! What a piece of shit! Is this the only reason for your frustration?’ Shekar asked me politely.
‘Shekar, this was just the beginning. It all started from that day. Bhushan used to treat me like his slave thereafter. He used to make me stay overnight at office, even if I had very less work to do. Sometimes he would ask me to prepare some documents and hand them over to management by using his name instead of mine. He used to cancel all my leaves and makes me to work on Sundays too. Whenever I take sick leave, he used to call me many times and asks me to come to office in the afternoon time by hiring a cab. Sometimes he himself would book a cab and send it to my door step. Life turned out to be a hell and today, being my appraisal day, I don’t know what's going to happen.’
‘God! This is insane. Do you wish to continue working there?’
‘Not at all. But at the same time I can’t get out.’
‘In case you get out of this hell will you continue the same kind of job in different company?’ He questioned me with a grip in his voice.
‘Not in earth I’m going to get into IT field again.’
‘Okay, now I get it. I have an idea that gets you out of all this shit. Do you want to hear that Karthik?’
Shekhar’s tone was confident this time. Without hesitating I agreed to hear his plan. He then explained the plan to me.

Fourteenth minute
‘Here goes the plan. Go to your desk, open your mailbox and type the resignation letter.’
I interrupted ‘What about my service agreement?’
‘Don’t interrupt me Karthik. Do hear the plan completely.’
‘Okay, go ahead,’ saying this I sat down leaning to the wall of the elevator and Shekar started to explain the plan.
‘Once you send the resignation, you will be called for inquiry. Be harsh to them. Speak whatever you wanna speak, but stay in your limits otherwise you could face some bad situation. 90% they will reject your resignation, but it’s not over. Leave the office early, say by two in the afternoon. Don’t go to office for ten to fifteen days. Don’t lift your manager’s call. On the sixteenth day go to the office. Leave early again. Go to the office the next day. Eighteenth and nineteenth day stay at home. Continue it for five more days and you will receive a letter on twenty sixth day which will be your termination letter. Do this if you do not want to get into IT again. Do it at your own risk.’

Twentieth minute
The plan seemed excellent. The elevator powered up and reached fourteenth floor in few seconds. I stepped out of the elevator and smiled at Shekar while the doors closed. Those twenty minutes was totally refreshing to me. I felt a sign of relief and confidence boosted in me. I followed the plan. I left the office early that day and continued the plan till twenty second day. To my surprise, I got the termination letter on twenty third day, which was two days earlier to that of the plan. I was happy that those twenty minutes brought a new meaning to my life.

Beginning of a new era (It was almost like that)
Lying on the couch, I was reading my termination letter aloud. I really enjoyed reading it aloud. I was waiting for my childhood friends - Nandini, Kishore, Arjun - to return from their tour. We all grew up together, did our graduation together but the fate made us to work in different organizations but we all shared the same room. It was time for them to arrive and I decided to take a short nap before they come.

After some hours
Some loud conversations woke me up. I rubbed my eyes and got up from the couch. It was Nandini who was screaming with anger. She was holding my resignation letter.
‘What the hell is this Karthik? Why did you resign the job?’ Nandini asked in a loud voice.
‘Yes Nandini.’
She slapped me twice – one in the left and the other in the right cheek.
Nandini, the girl whom I equally love and hate, was there with me right from my school days, while Kishore and Arjun joined our gang later. She was the eldest among three of us. She continued to yell at me after the series of slaps.
‘You insane idiot. You know how difficult is to get into a job now a days? And you lost it just like that? What if mom and dad come to know about this?’ She turned towards Arjun and said, ‘Arjun, why don’t you say something?’
I rubbed my right cheek, where Nandini slapped hard. She cared a lot about me more than my elder sister did. She had every right to manhandle me. But it was harsh that time. A tear poured down my eyes, not because Nandini slapped me, the pain was bad such that I couldn’t stop myself from crying.
‘Man! What have you done? Who gave this stupid idea?’ Arjun asked me.
‘Shekar,’ my tone was not clear as my voice jammed twice.
‘What?’ asked Nandini and Arjun while Kishore stood there speechless.
‘Shekar.. Ahem! Ahem!’ I made my tone clear this time and said, ‘he works at eighteenth floor in my office building.’

Nandini and Arjun left the house. They went to meet Shekar, who gave me the stupid idea to quit my job. I knew why Nandini was doing this to me. She clearly knew that whatever decision I take turns out to be wrong causing a massive damage to my career. That’s what she was afraid of, my career. With a minimal work experience it would be difficult for any graduate to find a job and she knew that very well. But what she doesn’t know is I don’t want to get into IT field again. Also I don’t have any idea what I was going to do next. As my thoughts faded, Kishore’s mobile rang. He gave the mobile to me and signaled to attend the call.
‘You moron. Why don’t you speak?’ I said to him in odd tone.
He pointed out the date in the calendar. It was Friday and Kishore stays mute from six in the morning till six in the evening on Fridays. I grabbed the phone and Arjun spoke from the other side.
‘Come to Rock Beach,’ Arjun’s spoke in a dull tone.

Rock Beach, Somewhere in Mumbai
I reached the place with Kishore in few minutes. We sat there on the rocks and were eating vada pav. Meanwhile Nandini and Arjun walked towards me. I got up from the rock and stood there while Nandini and Arjun came and hugged me tight. I was confused. I guess something happened there with Shekar. Things ran through my mind that moment, 'I guess he offered me a new job, but again IT, ah! Man! It sucks'. But I was not able to get a clue until they spoke out.
‘Karthik! What happened to you buddy? Why do you behave so strange now-a-days?’ Arjun asked me while Nandini stood there crying.
‘What happened guys? Why are you crying Nandini?’ I asked this staring at both of them.

Few minutes ago, at Shekar’s office
‘Eighteenth floor, right?’ Nandini asked Arjun.
‘Yes. Shekar, right?’ Arjun asked back Nandini.
They reached eighteenth floor. The elevator doors opened and the board read Surya InfoTech. They were surprised after seeing the location. It was still under construction and there was no floor beyond that one. They verified with seventeenth floor which was also under construction. They further went down to verify with sixteenth and fifteenth. They were also under construction. The floor above the office where Karthik worked remained void. They spotted a worker and went to him to inquire about Shekar.
‘Bhai, does anyone by the name Shekar works here?’ Arjun asked the worker.
‘Shekar…. I think no one named Shekar works here.’

Back in the Rock Beach
‘There is no Shekar working in eighteenth floor and in fact the eighteenth floor is under construction,’ Arjun said.
‘Impossible. Highly impossible. I spoke with Shekar for twenty minutes in the elevator. Do you guys think I am bluffing? Let me go and check myself.’
I rushed towards the car and drove it fast to the office. I parked the car in the basement and took the stairs to reach eighteenth floor so that I can take a look at fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth floor as well. They were true. There was no office from fifteenth floor and there was no Shekar on eighteenth floor. Arjun, Nandini and Kishore arrived there on the eighteenth floor, where I was standing, a few minutes later. I turned back and looked at them with little tears in my eyes.
‘How? Impossible!’ I said in a bit uncomfortable voice. Suddenly I felt something unusual with me. I fainted.

Better Health Hospital, Mumbai
‘Why didn’t you bring him early to me?’ Doctor Priya said to Nandini.
‘Why doctor? Is there anything serious?’ Nandini asked Doc.
‘No, not at all. Everything is Okay but your friend is little bit stressed. Your friend has a psychological disorder. He was involved in improvisational role play.’
‘What?’ Nandini and Arjun did not understand what the Doc was saying.
‘Oh! Sorry, let me make it clear. He creates fictional characters and interact with them for hours. They may seem real to the creators, but in real they doesn't exist. Your friend has been badly affected with this phenomenon and we will keep him under observation for some days.’
‘Will Karthik recover soon from this illness?’ Arjun asked Doc.
‘Will this disease recur again?’ Nandini interrupted.
‘Yes, but he should be kept away from stress. Anything stressful will lead him to create fictional characters. But this can be cured and it will take time,’ Doc said.

A different phase of life
Improvisational role play, what the heck! Bad time chose me as his partner. I was sure that He, the fate, was somewhere out there singing the song ‘you and I, in this beautiful world,’ and following me like a pup in the ad. Life at the hospital seemed peaceful to me. No signs of things happening outside world, no traffic jam, no horn honking sounds, especially no Bhushan. I was totally away from the stressful life. Nurse Eliza used to play chess with me twice a day and often she used to lose as I was good at playing chess. Nandini, Kishore and Arjun visited me daily. My mother and my elder sister had a hard time looking after me but indeed they took a good care of me. Kishore used to speak a lot on Thursdays and Saturdays but remain calm on Fridays. I was there in hospital for almost twenty three days and twenty two nights. After that I was discharged and brought back home.

The changeover
I was sitting there on the couch with a paper pad on my lap and performing some calculations. Arjun sat next to me and asked ‘what are you doing buddy?’ Meanwhile Nandini came to me and grabbed the paper pad ‘Karthik, you should not strain much. Take rest.’
‘Hey duffer. Give that back to me. I assure you that I won’t strain much but now give it back to me,’ I said.
‘What are these calculations?’ Nandini asked me.
‘Sit down guys, I wanna explain something,’ all the three sat before me and I started to explain my plan to them.
‘Guys, I have a plan. How about starting a restaurant?’
‘What?’ asked Kishore.
‘Listen, I have an idea. Why don’t we provide a five star ambience with rates of a budget hotel?’
‘I think this won’t work out Karthik,’ said Arjun.
‘Guys, why don’t you think positive. I am sure this will click and opening in the heart of the city will make our restaurant famous. We assure quality as well as quantity. The main specialty will be bringing up the nativity in the dishes. For example, the Punjabi dishes must taste like those made in Punjab, likewise the quantity must fulfill the requirement. If we follow this we might attract large number of customers. ‘Quality + Quantity + Nativity’ that’s the motto. What do you say guys?’

All the three liked my concept. All we needed was an investor who would like to invest a huge sum of money to start our business. Kishore's dad had contacts with some of the big shots in Mumbai and with his help we found out an investor named Sooraj Motilal, who was quite impressed with our concept. Investing sixty seven lakhs, we started the restaurant at Grant road and named the restaurant as ‘Flavors’. Within a span of two and half years, we started seeing money. Our business turned out profitable.

Arranged marriage
I always preferred arranged marriage. Not because I hate love marriages, but still I preferred arranged marriage over some reason. My mom and dad along with my elder sister have arranged a get together at the 'yet-to-be' bride’s house that day. My buddies accompanied me to the party.
‘So, Karthik, are you excited?’ Nandini asked me.
‘Somewhat,’ I replied.
‘Kishore, you know what? Karthik didn’t even look at her photo,' Arjun said to Kishore.
‘Yes and he didn’t even want us to look at the photo. Such a selfish creature,’ Kishore said.
‘Hey, I heard that the bride’s parents and Karthik’s parents are business partners. So it will be double the deal. Am I right Karthik?’ Nandini giggled.
‘Shut up guys,’ I said.

We reached the bride’s house on time. Arjun parked the car while I, along with Nandini and Kishore, walked into the house. I was pretty excited to see my 'yet-to-be' bride. I didn’t know anything about her looks. Arjun joined us sooner and we all four assembled at the living room. My mom got me introduced to Shah Uncle and Sushma aunty, the bride’s parents. After exchanging few words, we four sat on the sofa. I started to feel nervous just after I heard my mom say ‘Shwetha is here’. Shwetha, I felt familiar with that name. I just put my head down as I recollected something. I had a doubt whether she was the Shwetha whom I have known few years ago. I felt Arjun’s hand touching my shoulder. He whispered in my right ear, ‘dude, it’s her.’ Nandini and Kishore looked at each other and screamed, ‘Shwetha!!!’ On seeing all the three Shwetha screamed out of excitement, ‘guys…. Nandini… Is that you? I can't believe it.’ All the three exchanged their hugs and were badly excited except me. I was left there speechless, sitting on the sofa, looking at them screaming and exchanging hugs. Shwetha, after screaming and hugging, looked at me and said, 'hello Karthik.'

Written by Ashwin Kumar