Part 1Jan 13, 2012
“Let’s check that out”, I blissfully overheard as I saw a group of youngsters flocking towards my new fitness centre. It was certainly a big day for me. Sam’s Fitness Centre – my little baby, setup with a capital of less than a lakh, had grown up to be one of the most preferred gymnasium brands in town. Now it was time to make a mark in some more of the suburbs. It’s a fact, no matter how much you grow, your heart still paces in every new venture. So did mine, as I inaugurated my latest branch at Matunga. My pulse slowly restored as I watched the response of the crowd. The opening was grand and managed to attract quite a mass to peek a look at the new fitness centre in their vicinity. I was glad. Well begun-half done!! A good note to end the day at work!
As I was driving back home, I remembered how three musketeers in school had dreamt of making it big in life!! Today, I am here, content with my achievements, but where are the other two? Life after studies becomes so different. Perhaps each one of us promises on the last day of the school or college to remain in touch forever but how many of us actually do that, wonder hardly any! Just then I happened to see Shree – most mischievous of the three musketeers, walking down the side lane. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Instantly, I stopped the car, parked it and followed him to see for myself it was really Shree. Soon I could catch up with him, I tapped his shoulder, and he turned. And yes, it was Shree! I was so very delighted to see him that I couldn’t speak for a minute. I just hugged him. “Sam??” Shree yelled, with surprise all over his face. I could see the joy in his eyes. It was such a wonderful experience to meet an old friend; almost after a decade. We had so much to talk. Both of us wanted to spend some time together so we decided to go to a coffee shop nearby. But because of our commitments we had to leave early. We exchanged our mobile numbers and promised to remain in touch. Walking back to my car, I thought how work had made us so busy that best friends had become as good as strangers. And now we were going to get back to our mundane lives, hoping that we’ll stick to our promise.
I really wanted to keep my promise. So, one fine day I decided to call up Shree. But he seemed to be busy as he didn’t answer my call. So I texted him, “Call back when free”. After an hour or so, he called back. I immediately picked up but to my surprise I heard a sweet youthful voice, “ Sir, your file is ready. I will ask the office boy to deliver it to you.” For a moment I had no idea what to say but somehow I asked her if I could speak to Shree and which file is she talking about. She retorted, “May I know who’s speaking? I was expecting a call from Mr.Amit of HFL Limited. I’m sorry. You have got a wrong number. I don’t know any Shree”, and she hung up. Somehow I wasn’t convinced with her because I knew Shree had a stupid habit of irritating his friends with his silly tricks. I presumed this was one of his mimicry tricks and I wasn’t going to fall for this one. So I waited for Shree to come back to his normal self and call back.
The whole day went by, and Shree didn’t call! I kept wondering about incident. I was so sure that the number was Shree’s. He himself had given it to me. Why would he give me a wrong number? Why didn’t he call back??? I was just puzzled.
What went wrong? Was Shree trying to hide something?
PGDM – A
Part 2Jan 29, 2012
… While coming back home I kept thinking. I kept rewinding the whole incident in my mind again and again. Why didn’t Shree call back? I was a little apprehensive about whether the young lady was right, whether the number actually belonged to her. But the moment I thought of Shree’s mischievous face, I felt confident that he could actually go overboard simply to irritate people.
Later in the evening, I preferred sending him a text “Come on Shree, it’s enough now. Stop being such a kid!!” I waited for him to reply, but in vain. The very next morning while I was on my way to the office my cell displayed an incoming call from Shree. Instantly, I drove the car to the side, stopped it and answered the call. I was just about to yell at him when I heard the ‘sweet youthful voice’ yelling at me. (Well the ‘youthful’ voice wasn’t so ‘sweet’ now!!). “Who are you? This number belongs to me and not your friend – Shree. Is that clear? I was awaiting an important call the other day, otherwise I’m not even interested in answering any unknown numbers. Now will you please stop disturbing me?” And she hung up. ‘What was that??’ I thought to myself. I felt like a Rajdhani just ran over me. The conversation was so one-sided, I didn’t even get a chance to ‘hmmm’. But one thing was clear – that number did belong to her!!! And I decided I’m not going to call back on that number again, ever!!
The next day while I was engrossed in my work I got a call from an unknown landline number and guess what? It was Shree!! And I screamed – to say the least. I explained to him the whole scene that took place because of him. But he said he was completely oblivious of such a drama and had no clue how such a thing happened. At that moment, I was reluctant to accept his innocence until he asked me to confirm his number. When I read out his number, Shree pointed out that I had interchanged the last two digits of the number – instead of 98 I saved it as 89. “It’s funny how two little digits can mess up your life!!” Shree said. And we laughed the whole incident to death.
Almost the whole of the week that followed, I was out of town for property related work. When I reached Mumbai, it was Friday. So I thought I’ll catch up with Shree and reminisce about our good old school and college days. By the time I reached home it was pretty late, so I preferred leaving him a text message, “Let’s catch up tomorrow buddy and you better not give me any excuses”. Since I was travelling for a week continuously it was nothing less than a pleasure to be back home and have a good long 10 hours sleep. When I woke up in the morning I saw a missed call from Shree, I called him back. And I was shocked to hear the voice coming from the other end. “Look Mr. Whoever you are? I don’t know why you are doing this; I have already told you that this is not your friend’s number? For God’s sake stop troubling me”. After taking on me for the third time she kept the phone. And I was dreaming! Well, that’s what I thought, but no, I had done it again, Believe it or not!! What on earth was wrong with me?? And before I could curse myself even more, I checked the number. And what else, I had forgotten to correct the number after I finished talking with Shree that day. Now can you beat that??
I couldn’t have let her have such a bad image of me. I wanted to clarify but I didn’t have the courage! I took a deep breath, mustered some courage and called her. She answered and even before she could say anything I told her who I was and explained the entire puzzle to her. After hearing to all that I had to say, she started laughing uncontrollably. I felt relieved, at least she wasn’t yelling, for a change. I told her that I was really terrified about calling her, on which she said, “Mr. Wrong number, ‘Aise bade bade shehron mein aisi choti choti baatein hoti rehti hai’. I am sure you’ll be extremely careful with numbers from now onwards.” She giggled and cut the line. I smiled and I could think of just one word – ‘SWEET!!!’ I saved her number as ‘Senorita’ (obviously because of her DDLJ dialogue) and FINALLY corrected Shree’s number.
Well, such incidents don’t happen every day!! There had to be a purpose. I don’t know if I’ll call her again, but frankly… I’d love to!!
(to be continued)
Part 3March 26, 2012
The same day I met Shree and told him about the incident that happened that morning. Shree was surprised to hear about it and then we continued chatting on the topics that we had left unfinished when we met last. While returning back home my fingers were itching to text something to the angry lady but somehow my mind convinced them to stay back. Although, I had come across many beautiful faces throughout my college days and even after that, I never took them seriously. I always wanted to be a one-woman-man and was yet to meet that woman of my life.
Later that night, my heart conquered my mind and I sent her a message with a little add on, “ I know now that the number belongs to you and knowing you is not a disaster either Senorita”. I don’t know why I did that because I had never thought of doing something like it, but it just happened. I was not a flirt, but I guess, my fingers made me one at least for that moment. She didn’t reply to my message. But I didn’t mind, because I could guess what she would be thinking of me but, I was just hoping that her perception towards me would have changed after my apology. I just wanted to be her friend and nothing more than that. For me, love always meant loyalty and commitment. I never wanted to be a flirt.
I continued to message her the entire week but she preferred to ignore me. But I wasn’t expecting one anyway. Then, one fine morning while I was on my way to office, I saw an infant escaping his mother’s hand and suddenly coming right before my car. I had no option but to hit the divider on the other side to save him. And in doing that, I injured my head and jaw. I was hospitalized for a couple of days and my parents didn’t allow me to speak to anyone. The doctor had advised me to talk less at least till the wound healed. After spending 3 days in the hospital, I was glad to return back home and finally get my cell phone back. There were many missed calls and messages from office colleagues and clients, but among those was one from ‘Senorita’, and you can’t imagine how pleased I was. It said, “What happened Mr. Wrong number, tired of sending messages?” I immediately messaged her back “No Senorita. I met with an accident, so could not message you.” As soon as she got the message, she called me. I was surprised to see her call; I wasn’t expecting that at all. I answered the call and told her about the accident. She said, “ Look I don’t know who you are and what you do and all, but one thing I can say is that you are really a good human being. It takes to be a man to put one’s life in danger in order to save another’s. I am really happy that you saved that baby. Hope you get well soon. Take care”. I tried to lighten the situation and said, “Don’t worry Senorita, Aise bade bade shehron mein aisi choti choti baatein hoti rehti hai”. I’m sure she smiled when she said, “ I think I’ll reply to your messages sometimes now”.
After that conversation, we continued messaging each other, called at times, and became good friends. We had reached a level of comfort in our friendship and we a lot of things about each other. One day she asked me if I was in a relationship. I simply told her how important I consider loyalty and commitment in a relationship. She was quite impressed by that, though I didn’t say it to impress her. And when I asked her about the same, she said that she belongs to a typical middle class, orthodox family where she was not even allowed to have any male friends and that I was lucky to be the first one. And I thought, of course I’m lucky to have got to know you.
Well, her real name is Natasha. She is a Chartered Accountant working in an audit firm in Pune. We continued to speak but were yet to meet. But that wasn’t important for either of us. But during one of our talks I realized that she was going through some personal problems. I couldn’t see her I pain and so I asked her if we could meet. I had never ever forced her to meet until that day. But she refused. I was in such a situation where on one side I could not see her suffer and the other side. I didn’t want to force her to meet me so I decided to let it be.
One fine morning when we were talking over the phone she cried over the problems she was facing. I could not bear that and drove my car to Pune without letting her know. I didn’t know what she was for me but I simply couldn’t see her being in such a situation. After reaching Pune, I called her and she could not believe that I was in her city to meet her. Initially she refused but later on she agreed to meet me in the evening. We decided to meet at a restaurant of her choice.
I reached the restaurant at 5.30, half an hour before the decided time. I was preparing myself to face her. Frankly, I was shivering and for a moment I felt like picking up the phone and cancelling the plan. With the passing of every minute, my heart was pumping faster and faster. At 6’o clock sharp, she called to say that she had reached. The next moment, a beautiful lady entered and it looked as if she was searching for someone and that lucky someone was me. I waved my hand at her. As soon as she saw me she smiled, put her neck down and started walking towards me. Like a gentleman, I pulled the chair for her. For the next few minutes, we remained silent. I was simply stunned by her simplicity which was one reason for my silence. She had the most perfect face I had ever seen in my life. After a few minutes, I mustered some courage to take the initiative to speak and once she started talking, we couldn’t stop. The time I spent with her was the most beautiful. She shared her problems with me and we spoke for close to an hour. I wanted to spend some more time with her but she was getting late. She had already received a couple of phone calls from her mother. As it was late, I asked her if I could drop her home. As always, she refused but somehow I convinced her. After dropping her home she said, “Thank you for coming over and am glad to have a caring friend like you.” I was happy to have been a ‘caring friend’ to her.
And that was the beginning of a very beautiful relationship that was waiting to unfold. If I had to write down about it, it would run into pages and pages and pages. There were ups and downs, her Dad expired, our families opposed, Natasha suffered from a brain clot and lay in coma for years, but we sailed over them. To say the least, we lived happily ever after !!