November 18, 2014

But there is just one little problem... [Part 1]

"Why me, why me!", he kicked his foot over the accelerator. The Duster had crossed the 100 threshold. Aakash was furious. So many thoughts were bursting in his head right now.  They were clouding his ability to think clearly.

But it was dangerous to drive at such high speeds on the dug up roads of Vile Parle. Mumbai wasn't known for its smooth and wide roads. And it was raining heavily as was typical in this part of India.

There was quite some traffic on the road but Aakash was maneuvering his way out of it. He wanted to beat everyone in this 'car race'. He wanted to win today, at least somewhere. He had been beaten once again. Once again, his boss had made him a scapegoat for his own inefficiencies. Once again, his colleagues had stabbed him in the back. And problem with Aakash was that he wouldn't retaliate. Fighting, back-bitching, wasn't his nature.

He had been working so hard on the latest project. He had been burning under the night lamps, cutting up his own family time, forgetting the difference between weekdays and weekends; to make something that he and his organization could be proud of. But of course, it was of no use. There were way more distractors and opposers than there were supporters. The bosses were more interested in compliance to their arbitrary rules and processes than caring if any actual innovation happened. Aakash felt like being a part of a troop of monkeys; if one monkey tried to do something new, others would beat him down and make him fall in the line.

So many times he had thought about quitting his crappy job. The leech infested bloody office environment. Everyone looking to suck up the blood of everyone else. But the job did pay good, and it wasn't easy to switch companies in his line. A few times he had also given a thought to switching careers itself; probably becoming a freelance architect or a web designer. But at his age of 28, it felt like too heavy a risk.

He had no idea who among those foxes in the skin of humans were his friends. One day he would see two office mates fighting, bitching about each other and the next day they would be sharing gossip about their common 'enemy'. He would fail to understand their psyche. Probably this is how all the office and his industry worked pan India. Probably all this was 'normal', but he had trouble getting in sync with this culture.

Aakash just wanted to come to office, do his work and get the hell of there. But office sometimes, like politics, becomes a deadly swamp in which once you enter, there is no way to get out of it. It changes you. Permanently.

It's almost always flood like situation in Mumbai every year. This year was no different. Even though, the wiper of Aakash's car was working overtime, he still had difficulty seeing the road ahead of him clearly. A lot of fellow travelers had started taking refuge under the shops or flyovers, but Aakash was in no mood to follow suit. He just wanted to reach home and gulp down 2 pegs of his favorite brand of whiskey, and retire for the day. He had enough of it for today. His head was hurting so much right now. How could his boss be so aloof to his aspirations and capabilities?

Aakash stopped his car at the red light near Vakola police station. There was no sign of rain stopping anytime soon. He looked at his watch. It was 5.30 pm. He should reach his home in Colaba in 40 mins, he thought. He would have dinner early and go to sleep. Tomorrow would be Saturday. Weekend was one time he would shut down everything and recluse into his own small palace, doing whatever the heck he felt like doing. If there wasn't this two days break for him to recharge, he would have died of exhaustion and stress a long time back.

A small teenager knocked at the glass, he made signals asking for money. Aakash refused. The boy persisted which infuriated Aakash even more. The boy ran away seeing the expressions on his face. On any other day, he might have probably given some money, but today he was in no mood for charity. Nobody could make him do anything today. The red light was still half a minute long. From his rear view mirror, he could see a long queue of vehicles getting formed. These were rush hours, nothing else could be expected.

At a distance, he saw a yellow figure with something of red color at the top coming from the front. It was difficult to see who or what it was through the undying water trickling over the windshield. The traffic light turned green and Aakash ignited his engine. But before he could hit the paddle, the doors of his side seat opened, and a red colored umbrella  with a person under it, entered his car.

"Hello!". Before Aakash could understand anything, an excited feminine voice greeted him.

"I am really sorry, but the rain outside is too much to bear".

Aakash looked at his adjacent seat, still stunned at what just happened. He always made sure to lock all the doors while driving. How was the door of his car even open?