Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong will go wrong) prefers to prove itself at the most unwelcome times. Ashika would vouch for it. It was Friday and she had walked in to office at 7 AM, a time when she would be hitting the snooze button to catch those two extra minutes of “Maggi Nap”, to have her work wrapped up early. She was leaving for a vacation that night and didn’t want any mishaps. Skipped breakfast, lunch at her desk and strictly avoided breaks later she was all set. Or so she thought, when that message flashed on her communicator.
“Ashika, I want you on the status call with Brian. We can join from my desk”. It was Bose her Delivery Manager.
“Bose, I triple checked all the deliverables. They are perfect ”, she replied
“This is something else. Quick, I am dialing in”
“Oh! I am about to leave for my vacation ”
“That’s fine. Shouldn’t take long… hopefully”
God! This definitely is Murphy’s Law. Why does this always happen to me? She mumbled to herself, adding a dose of expletives.
As she raced towards Bose’s desk, numerous worst-case possibilities was flashing through her mind. She could feel stress coming. So she decided to activate the time machine in her mind to take a trip down the memory lane and revisit some of those happy moments. It was a combat mechanism to ward the stress-attack off.
Ashika was a hopeless romantic. Just that the Juliet in her hadn’t found Romeo yet. In a way ‘hopeless’ was more than apt. She always had fairy tale dreams about her prince charming – about how he would descend straight from the skies, bend on one knee, look straight into her eyes, flash the most romantic smile ever and offer her his hand. Once she takes it, he would rise to his feet, sweep her off hers, take wings and fly with her straight to heaven. This was not just a dream in her sleep, she would dream about it even in broad daylight, with eyes wide open.
Engineering entrance exams had just concluded. And it demanded undivided attention, thanks to the education system. So for months, Ashika had managed to curb her day-dreaming episodes and focused on cramming, which was supposed to help her have the edge over the rest in the herd of engineering aspirants. Now that the exams were done with, she could unwind and rethink about her fantasies. There were no high school romances, as she had the privilege of schooling in the leading Convent of Coimbatore.
In reality, situations seldom coincide with dreams. That held very true for Ashika. When she opened the door that day, on hearing the calling bell, and saw Amar, standing with Ameen, little did she realize that he would actually turn out to be her prince charming. She had seen him before, never really spoke or taken a good look at him. So when their eyes actually met for the first time, she felt mild tremors of excitement coursing through her. Her vocabulary failed to find the right word to describe it. Blame it on the contentment of the exams that had just got over, she told herself.
The same strange sensation reared its head when she saw him again, a few days later. There weren’t any just-concluded-exams scapegoats to blame it on this time around. From that day on, the very thought of Amar made her feel the same. She wondered if he was going through something similar. When she actually found out, what transpired bore little resemblance to her fantasies. But she would take it.
She was woken up from her open-eyed dreamy slumber when Bose tapped on the desk to catch her attention.
“Ashika is definitely among the best we got. Excuse me for a minute Brian”, she heard Bose say, as he muted the phone.
“In case you were day dreaming, Brian was appreciating your impeccable delivery, day in and day out”
“Oh yes, yes. I was listening to every single word”, she bluffed
“So what do you say, ready to travel?”
She was taken aback. Where? When? How long? The state of mind she was in right then, the last thing she could do was to make a decision right there.
“I would be more than glad. But can we talk about this once I return from vacation, please?”
“Sure, think over and let me know as soon as you come back”
“Thank you. I will”
“Brian, Ashika is on vacation next week. I will get back to you on this the week after that.” Bose said unmuting.
“Sure. That’s it for today. Thanks for joining”
“Thanks and have a nice day” Bose hung up.
“Shall I leave now Bose? It’s getting late”
“Yeah, sure.. Enjoy your vacation”
Just in time. Ashika didn’t even say thanks in response, as she was rushing out from there. There was a train to catch. Though it was good 4 hours away, she did not trust the traffic in Chennai. As she boarded a taxi, she thought about her ridiculous idea of surprising Amar by showing up unannounced. When they were talking the previous night, she told him she will be in night shift next day and will call him the following morning.
The taxi came to a screeching halt in front of Chennai Central. The only person she had told about her arrival was Ameen. He would be there to pick her up. A wave of mixed emotions was running through her, as she got on to the train. Excitement of seeing Amar and guilt when she thought of Ameen. Ameen doesn’t know about Amar and her. She was sure he wouldn’t be happy when he found out. She convinced herself that he will understand.
As the train chugged along, she repeated to herself “I will make him understand”.
—— End of Chapter 2 —–