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I attended team meetings everyday, people around me spoke of issues, schedules and strategies, but I had all my focus on Sohini. She was the most beautiful in the office, her smile, her dimples and her sparkling black eyes, they all demanded an attention of their own. The lunch hour spent with her, and it was the only thing that made me come back to office.
All team meetings took place in the conference room, with the AC switched on to full blast always, I called it the 'cold room'. One hour in the room and one can experience the Arctic region sitting in the heart of Bangalore.
I zipped up my jacket and walked into the conference room for the third meeting of the day. Entering the room I realized I should have brought with me a bottle of brandy and a muffler to survive the two hour meeting. My neighbours in office Nanditha and Kavitha sat together in the room. Kavitha's three year old kid choosing to eat his one dinner with his grand mom instead of her, still looked like a hot topic of discussion in the room. They didn't discuss much in the room, they saved the best and the rest for lunch. Lunch was their chance to exchange their household issues and then have some sympathy showered at them from the rest.
Somnath, our system admin was busy hooking up the projector. Somnath joins Rohit and me for smoke after lunch often. He is twenty four but speaks like a fifty year old most times. He never gives up on an opportunity to make a fool of himself. Rohit and I had burst into laughter, when he pulled out a condom from his purse and announced
“I am always ready and I like to play safe”
He had a line with which all his stories started with, and over the past week I had learnt that all the stories that start with “Pata hai Tuje” were a creation of his imagination which he tried to pass off as real life experience. We never called his bluff on his face, the stories were definite fakes but they were quite entertaining at the same time. Be it him stealing mangoes from his neighbour’s compound when he was seven and then jumping over a ten feet tall wall, or ending up kissing a girl on a full moon night when he was just ten. They all made us smile. He was nice guy, who just craved for attention from people around him. He pretty much had an ordinary life and a very ordinary childhood, but deep in his head he lived an extraordinary life filed with adventure, twists, beautiful girls, and people looking up to him as a hero.
The first half hour of the meeting was spent with everyone agreeing the project was behind schedule. The second half was spent discussing, why was the project behind schedule. The next forty odd minutes were spent explaining the repercussions of the behind schedule project. The last fifteen minutes was spent planning the next meeting, to come with strategies to put the project back on schedule.
It was lunch already, I had earned my salary by just nodding my head. The salary felt more like an award for surviving the meeting and the cold room.
Sohini and me walked up a couple of floors to reach the cafeteria. I wanted to take the lift, but she felt the stairs were healthy. Rohit skipped lunch to get a 'I am sorry card' to his angry girl friend. At times like these, Hallmark say sorry better than us.
We entered the cafeteria and all the guys in the cafeteria had their eyes fixed on Sohini. She stood ahead of me in the lunch queue, we didn’t speak much. She was concentrating on the dishes that were laid out on the table.
We sat at the table, opposite to each other. I was surprised to see her plate with only little food scattered around.
“Why you look surprised?” she caught me staring at her plate
“I am on diet, and zip your mouth. I don’t want to hear any comments.”
“I was not going to make one” I replied immediately. Girls just jump to all kinds of conclusions. Passing a nasty comment had not occurred to me at all, but now that she mentioned, it was all I could think off. It was a test in self control to stop myself from uttering out all the stupid comments that came flooding in my head. Times like this, makes me feel my brain is my only enemy.
I looked down at my plate trying to figure out the different vegetables used in the sabzi. As we ate our chapathi made out of rubber, I spoke to change the mood
“I think heroines are better at handling all the fan attention and the crazy fans.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Well, even when she was not a heroine she would have got stared at by men all the time, and have crazy guys running around her.”
She laughed out loud, and spoke
“You know what. You are actually very sweet. So you thought of it, when all the guys around were staring at me.”
“Kind of, but no, even in college everyone stared at Isha and I used to think about it.”
“Isha is your girlfriend?” she asked tearing out her chapatti like a tiger tearing out a piece meat.
“No. She is a friend. She is actually my friend’s girl friend.”
“So you never stared at Isha?”
I smiled, bent my head down to pick up a piece of pickle and replied
“You stare at me?” she asked with her eyes fixed on me
I smiled. I couldn’t look directly into her eyes. I turned away and replied
She broke into a light laughter and punched my arm softly and said