HAND IN HAND
The Reunion Of A Story
“The company is in a high growth phase and is aided by an asset-light business model, virtual monopoly in the voice search segment, negative working capital cycle, significantly strong free cash flow, excellent dividend payout and healthy return ratios. Hence, its premium valuation is justified,” she replied.
The board seemed really content with the way twenty-six year old Surbhi handled the reporters. It had been really difficult for them to take in an MIT graduate with a background in computer science as a media relations head. But in a matter of five years, the young and charming woman had pushed beyond her limits to show the board of what she was capable of. The questioning continued for an hour or so, but her firm and precise replies kept the reporters wanting for more. Even when she kept quiet to listen, her eyes worked magic. The engaging dark-brown eyes, they never showed a lack of enthusiasm, and were eager to listen to whoever she would engage in conversation with. And the kohl; it was just captivating. Although, if one observed closely, there were voids even God couldn’t possibly make up for. The newspapers could never digest how this lively twenty –six year old could keep them under the leash like an experienced business-magnate. It was not just about her work or skill; it was about the elegance that she carried with herself. The light blue saree, matching handbag, shoulder-length hair, and nails trimmed, no lipstick, no weird eye-liners and no overdo of foundation. Professional, graceful and beautiful.
After the incessant clamor of the press conference, when everyone dispersed for lunch she took the day off from monotony. As she got into the car, she checked her phone for text she had received during the conference. She checked her watch to see if she could make it in time. Twelve minutes to two. She could make it to the school before the bell rang. On went the seat belt and she raced past the afternoon Bangalore traffic with relative ease. As she stopped at the red light, she turned off the ignition, and pulled the seat back a little to rest her head. She turned sideways, and her eyes lit up. They lit up from the memories of her past. The Ice Cream Store, the Red Velvet and Vanilla Ice cream, one bowl and two forks, but of all the things, she missed “him” the most.
The honk from the car behind hers pulled her back into reality. The signal had gone green. Wiping the tear off her eyes and smiling at that child licking on his softy cone, she hit the accelerator and took off towards Palace Road. She was one hell of a skilled driver. She stopped right in front of The Clarence School, with two minutes to the bell. Parking towards a side, she got rid of the seat belt, got her handbag on her shoulder and stepped out. Combing her hair with help of the rear view mirror, she leaned against the car, waiting for her Arjun. Four years old, the kid was a sprinter for his age. He could knock a bus down if it got in the way to his mom. He bellowed from the other side of the gate, “Mamma!!!!!”
The sound of her son was all that was needed to cheer her up. As the doors opened, mother and son ran towards each other, the collision resulting in a bear hug so adorable, the hearts of spectators melted at the sight. Quickly getting into the car, she pulled his seat belt on before putting hers. She was extra cautious about him. Remembering her days as a kid when she would get rid of the seat-belt on the first chance she had, to how she was now, she realized how much life could change her. But, it wasn’t life that brought this change; it was Karan. Every moment, he lived in her heart; he was by her side, guiding her in everything she did, and loving her to infinity and beyond. It was not difficult to see, that one day; Arjun would grow up to be just like his father. On the way home, Arjun told his mamma all about school. “Mamma, they showed us a movie today. It was good. Thele wele little elephants trying to put water on each other. Can I do it at home mamma?” That puppy faced expression had Surbhi in splits.
With his cute banter, they were home in about half an hour. At the porch, Shalini was waiting for her grandson. “How come you two turned up together? Surbhi, you said you had this press conference at work to attend. Anyway, the chit-chat can happen over lunch.” “Yeah, the driver called me up a while ago to tell that the car broke down on the way. I was done with that presentation, so I pulled in. I’m sorry I didn’t call to tell you, mom” replied Surbhi, warmly embracing her mother-in-law. Shalini called out to the driver, “Ganesh, please pull the vehicle into garage.” Surbhi gave Ganesh the keys and entered the only place her soul found peace. Neha, Surbhi’s sister-in-law about twenty three now, shared a special bond with her nephew. He loved playing with his favorite aunt, a top-priority task on his invisible to-do-list as soon as he came home. Shalini, an experienced mother and an entertaining grandmother, sure knew how to make little Arjun eat to his tummy full without a lot of running around the house.
While Neha and Shalini took care of his hunger, Surbhi ran upstairs. She was done with being so unreal of herself. Changing into denims and a sleeveless tank top, she walked in to the studio room, an extension of her bedroom. It was her very own Shangri-La; she could lose herself over and over again in this room. She would hold nothing to herself in this room. She turned the lights on. The lights were deliberately adjusted to be dim, but the wall lit up the atmosphere. Every inch of the wall, was covered with photographs, life-size ones of Karan and Surbhi. There was no one else; no one else was allowed here, in person or in thoughts, not even Arjun. The space belonged only to them. From one of the drawers on a shelf in the corner, she took out her diary, and sat down on the patio to make an entry.
She wrote with teary eyes: “Karan, Arjun is growing up faster than you can imagine. Today, I went to pick him up from school. As soon as the gates opened, he ran to get to me, just like how you would. He makes me feel like you are always around me. He is the only reason, I’ve been able to push myself this far. He is growing up to be more and more like you. He even loves playing Connect-Four with Neha. Like Father, like son. 🙂 It is getting harder and harder to not miss you. Please come back soon… ”
She could not hold her tears anymore. She brought the book close to her bosom and sobbed like a child who seemed like she had lost everything in the world.
To be continued…