Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The 14Th Floor

“This traffic would kill me one day.” I thought to myself. On top of that, I feel like an office boy running errands. It’s been just a week he has joined ‘Trendz’. They have asked him to drop the data CD’s to his senior manager’s home. I have not even met that bugger and he is already a menace to me. When I asked my current close colleague why did I have to deliver this? He mentioned about Mr. Roy being on vacation for a week now and he has a very important conference tomorrow call for which he needs to go through the data. My super next question to him was, why can’t we mail him the data? As soon as I asked I knew the answer to it. “It’s too huge to send through mail, why are you getting upset? It’s on your way as it is.”
“Yeah right” I answered.

The address was so skimpy I wondered how to reach the place. At least the dumb of a secretary gave me the name of building and society. I looked at 20 something storey building and one wall full of names of the residents. I looked closely at it and I was dumbfounded when I saw that on 14th Floor there was a Mr. S Roy and on 15th floor another Mr. S.K. Roy. Which one is it I wondered? I quickly called the office, phone just kept ringing. I looked at my watch it was only seven thirty, does nobody work overtime? I cursed the secretary a couple of times loudly. I called my colleague, no answer from him either. Now he had no choice but to gamble and choose a flat. He got into the elevator with a woman. She pressed the button for 9th floor and I just kept standing there deciding which floor to go, she gave me disgusted look. She got off on 9th floor and I quickly pressed the 14th floor button. I looked at myself in the mirror, my hair was disheveled, and I combed them in place with my fingers. He tucked his shirt in properly. I did not consider myself handsome but I was definitely smart enough. It was not difficult to find his flat. There were just two on each floor. He practiced his apologies if it was the wrong Roy’s house. His fingers trembled when he pushed the bell.

The door opened after few seconds. As soon as it did, my breath got stuck somewhere. My eyes glued to the girl who opened the door. She was barefoot with shiny silver toes and anklet on one of her feet. She was wearing a flowery skirt and a black singlet. Her black curls fell like feather on her shoulder. She tilted her head questioning at me. I realized I was staring and recovered quickly. “I am… Ranjit” I stammered
“eshona” she said in a sweet Bengali accent.
I assumed she asked me in and walked in. The room was decorated in austere cluttering, I assumed from Bengal. What a stunning beauty Mr. Roy has, I wondered. I no more felt sorry for this trip. I sat down and asked her, “Mr. Roy?”
“Oh daddy? He just left with Mom.” She smiled, “Would you like something to drink? It must be really hot outside.”
I nodded my answer; I could not get myself to speak.
“Would you like coffee or chilled coke?”
“A chilled coke please.” I answered. She left me to fetch the drink. I realized that I had to find out whether it was the correct house. There was soft music playing behind she came back with two tall glasses of coke. She plopped herself opposite me and said, “I think he was expecting you. He mentioned something but I had my headphones on …” she smiled naughtily.
I sighed in relief I got myself in the right house.
“So Ranjit, what do you do?” she asked.
“I am currently working as business analyst. I just joined a week back.” I paused, “May I know your name?”
“Oh how silly, I assumed you would know. I am Riddima, but everybody calls me ‘Mishti’.”
“What would that mean?”
“Mishti? It means sweet.” She giggled and further explained, “We Bengali’s have a habit of keeping funny pet names.”
“But I must say though it may sound like a cliché to you. For a sweet person like you, the names appropriate.” She had the decency to blush. I quickly asked her, “So what kind of funny pet names do you guys have?”
“Oh you would hear some like, Hego, Teko, Bubun, chumki, Chuku, tuli and now if you have read the book ‘Namesake’ gogol seems like the favorite funny name.” she laughed and it was contagious as even I did.
“Then comparatively you have good pet name.” she beamed.
“Are you in a hurry Ranjit? I mean do you have anything planned ahead.”
Actually I dint and an opportunity like this should never be denied. “No do you have something in mind?”
“Wow,” she clapped hands like a small girl, “why don’t you stay for dinner, meanwhile we could play a game of scrabble, what do you say?”
“It sounds good, but you would have to teach me how to play I have forgotten, I have not played for years.”

Of course who does not know how to play scrabble? I played this game every school vacation of my schooldays. We played the game revealing bits and pieces of each others lives. She mentioned about her childhood and how they had stayed in much smaller home, she had so much fun that time. Now hardly her cousins came over. He narrated his migration from Allahbad to Mumbai in search of higher paying jobs.

Conversation spilled over the cozy Bengali dinner which the maid had cooked. They had maid from kolkatta. I was amazed. It was nearing 11 on the watch. He had outstayed his privilege. They exchanged their numbers when the bell rang. A half bald man in his fifties and a good-looking middle aged woman walked in. Oh, I thought, Mr. and Mrs. Roy. I stood up to greet them. I saw a frown crossing Mr. Roy’s face. Before I could say anything, he asked, “Who is he?” the question was directed towards his daughter.
I answered for her, “Mr. Roy, I am Ranjit Chowdhry from Trendz.” Then I remembered the package and I removed the CD’s. “I was here to deliver the data CD’s to you.”
“Whom are you talking about, I don’t know you and I don’t know anything about the Trendz and the CD’s.” his voice changed threateningly, “what have you been doing here?”
Mishti looked confused, “But daddy you said that somebody was coming home…”
“Yes but that was Debashish, my friends son. Not him. For once if you would just listen to me Mishti….”
Now was the time to say the apologies I had practiced earlier, somehow I could not remember them.
“I am sorry Mr. Roy, this is a terrible confusion, I think I had to deliver the parcel to Mr. Roy on 15th Floor.”
I took the cue and opened the door to go out. I once looked back and saw a glaring Mr. Roy, confused Mrs. Roy and the best part, smiling Mishti.


Manu said...

i'm sorry to say that its a mediocre effort..i was so impressed by your "unicorn and princess" that i decided to go through ur other stories too..but this was a bit disappointing..the story fails to grip the reader..there is no element of suspense..nor the narration is very interesting...sometimes the narration switches to self mode with "I"..sometimes the narrator switches to a third party mode with "he" ought to stick to a uniform pattern..
P.S: but your description of 'mishti' was really 'sweet'..

Caresse said...

Thanks for writing this.