INDEX OF STORIES
For the past hour or so, Shankar had been tossing around on his bed. His wife slept like a log. The barks echoed in the bedroom. It would stop momentarily and when he would begin to finally fall asleep, it would start again.
The damn dog!!
Shankar jumped out of the bed. He marched to the toilet and took out the half empty packet of rat poison stashed away in the cupboard. He fetched some raw chicken from the refridgerator and proceeded to push the powdered poison into a pocket he created in the meat.
"What are you doing?" his wife said who stood near the door, watching him, stunned.
The first time, Shankar had tried mixing the poison and spreading it on a piece of bread, but the dog must not have eaten it. May be the dog doesn't like bread. But chiken, he was sure the dog would love it.
Shankar continued to ignore his wife and finished pushing the poison into the meat, then walked over to their bedroom balcony. The short trip made him short of breath. He hated his expanding mid section, but he didn't mind it anymore. After all, he turned 53 last month.
He leaned out of the balcony and prepared to throw the parcel into the next balcony where the dog continued to bark. He stopped. The balcony now had a metal mesh covering it.
Shit. His neighbours must have found the poisoned bread and put it up. Frustrated, Shankar threw the meat at the balcony anyway. It bounced off the mesh and dissappeared as it began its journey 10 stories down to the ground below.
"Lets just close the windows. It wouldn't be loud then," his wife suggested from behind.
"The windows are already closed!" he shouted walking back to the bed.
Luckily, the dog had stopped barking after sometime, and he could finally get some sleep. He woke up to find that it was 8 a.m. He was late for office. He was never late. He woke his wife up and started getting ready.
"Dad, the card is maxed out," his son, who was in his late 20s, and spent his days partying around, said.
"Ya.. ya.. I will put in some money into your account today," Shankar said absentmindedly as he picked up his laptop.
"Can I have one of your cards? I need to be going somewh....."
"Ya.. ya... here." Shankar said quickily handing him a card from his wallet.
A few minutes later, Shankar was in his car. It was 8:45. Normally, he would be in the office by 8:30 before his team even arrived. He wanted his team to be in the office by 9. If they came in late, he would mark the day as absent. If anybody took an uninformed leave, he would mark them as 2 days absent. He was one of the most feared team manager in his company. But today, it seemed like he himself would be late, something that hadn't happened atleast in the past decade of his career.
He took a chance in one of those little roads away from the congested main roads. A bike came into view without warning, and Shankar turned sharply to avoid it. A second later, his car had smashed into an electric pole. His face was pushed into an airbag. He quickly sat up pushing the airbag away. He saw the bike guy accelerating with quick backward looks at him and his car. Shankar shouted at him, but the bike had already dissapeared around the corner. The front side of the car seemed to be severely damaged. It was at that moment that he noticed from the corner of his eye, one of his front wheels gently rolling away from his car on its own.
After calling up his mechanic, Shankar hailed a cab. He was already late and things were made even worse by the stupid cab guy going right into the main road in the middle of the morning rush traffic. Another hour later, Shankar was at the office.
He felt a tinge of shame as he walked into his floor. He could feel everybody's judging eyes on him. That's when he remembered. Shit. He had forgotten to take his hypertension, diabetic, and cardiac medications. But no worry, he thought, I would send one of the office boys to fetch me some from the local pharmacy. That's when he caught Arjun glaring at him, judging him. Shankar glared back at him. Normally, people would turn away if they were stared at by their bosses, but not Arjun.
"Whats the matter??!" Shankar barked at Arjun. Arjun managed a difficult account that nobody would even touch. He was basically indisposable. The truth was, he needed Arjun. The management needed Arjun. And to make matters worse, Arjun had a very sarcastic, careless attitude when it came to his superiors.
"Nothing. Its just that, you are..... you know, late," Arjun said.
"I was in a meeting with the other managers," Shankar said immediately.
"But I noticed all the managers in their offices at 9," Arjun shot back. Some of the employees nearby suppressed their laughter.
Shankar could feel the blood pulsating in his head, but he had to stay calm. He pretended like he didn't hear what Arjun had said and walked into his office.
He decided he was going to write the HR a mail. Tell her that it was high time we trained some people in the account that Arjun worked on. May be hire some new more experienced employees who can do the work so that he can then fire his ass.
In his office, as soon as he opened his laptop, a notification popped up in the corner stating he had 8 unread mails. The first mail that caught his attention was the one from the CEO. The mail was CC'ed to all the managers and also CC'ed to that asshole Vikram. Vikram was in his early 30's and eyeing for Shankar's position. Shankar had felt an increasing pressure to perform these last few years, almost as if the management wants him to fall back, so that they can fire him and replace him with their pet, Vikram. Shankar forced himself to concentrate on the mail. It stated that the filings for Ajmax Inc had to be submitted by 12 noon at the earliest. Ajmax was Arjun's account. Shankar decided he would let Arjun know about the urgency...... Shankar saw something through his office transparent glass wall that made him rush out of his office.
Arjun was standing and packing up his bag in a frenzy.
"What the f.... hell are you doing?" Shankar almost shouted at Arjun. Arjun disregarded him and continued to frantically put things into his bag and started to rush towards the exist. Everybody turned to look at what was happening. Shankar rushed to the exist from the other side and reached it in time to stop Arjun. He was surprised himself at how fast he moved.
"Where are you going?? Ajmax fillings is due by noon!!" Shankar shouted.
"Listen, Mr. Shankar, I just got a call that my wife has been in an accident, and I need to go."
The blood drained from Shankar's face. Shit. This was it. He was going to lose his job. That asshole Vikram will take over his office with a smug look on his face. And he will have to spend the rest of his life getting turned down at interviews because he's too old or too experienced.
"I.... I can't let you go!" Shankar was now standing between him and the door and pushing him away.
"I dont care! I quit!!" Arjun said throwing his ID card on the floor.
"No! You can't! You still have to serve your notice period! I want you to go back and finish the fillings on Ajmax righ......"
Arjun charged at Shankar like a bull. Shankar's heavy frame turned out to be too hard for Arjun to take on and he struggled. Shankar wrestled back, and it became a test of strength. A moment later, both had fallen on the ground. A rage came over Shankar and he punched Arjun on his face. While Arjun covered his face in pain, Shankar gingerly stood up, his hand hurting. But as soon as he was up, Arjun jumped up and charged at Shankar again. Shankar was pushed back up against the table with the copying machine on it. He grabbed the copy machine and smashed it on Arjun's head.
The gasps that had been brewing for sometime turned into screams. Someone screamed. Someone was calling the cops.
A couple of hours later, Shankar was taken to a station and put into a holding cell. From what he heard, he knew that Arjun's injuries were fatal and that he would probalby die. The security cameras in the office was damning evidence to the entire incident.
Shankar was alone in the cell. It was very quiet. He felt tired. He knew that from that time forward, he was going to spend the rest of his life thinking and regretting about what he had done in those few life defining moments, but before he could finish that thought, he was fast asleep.
The best sleep he had had in more than 2 decades.
- Rejo John.
INDEX OF ALL STORIES