On Sunday morning, Joe was strolling on the porch of Mr Irani’s home in black round-neck T-shirt and trouser, his hands in both the pockets, craning his neck to see over the compound wall every now and then.
Black SUV screeched in front of Yuvika’s gate. She got down with a big handbag. She opened the gate. As soon as she got in, the gate was again pushed open with a bang.
“Where were you?” asked Joe while rushing in hurriedly.
Yuvika turned around, looking puzzled.
Joe stood in front of her, took a deep breath.
“Where were you?” asked Joe again, this time with ease.
“Office,” said Yuvika and turned back to walk to the house with keys in her hand.
“A whole night?”
Joe was following her. Yuvika unlocked the door.
“Okay. Then take some rest,” said Joe standing on the door step.
She nodded and got into the house. She turned back and said, “No. Actually, I am going to the office in a couple of hours again.”
Joe stood there for a second or two and said, “You just go and freshen up. I will get you something.”
Joe returned with two thermos coffee mugs. Yuvika opened the door. Joe said, “Here you are. I brought you coffee to save your time.”
She was surprised. Ignoring her expression, Joe crossed his way and entered the house. As soon as he entered, he saw the large photo of Yuvika’s grandmother in front of him. He stood there for a couple of seconds. He heard Yuvika following him in the room. He moved to the centre table and put the thermos mugs there.
“Hope you will like it.”
She took her mug and opened it and took a sip.
“Tasted okay?” asked Joe. He was eager to know her feedback.
“Hm. Okay,” said Yuvika with a slight smile on her face.
“I knew it,” said Joe and snapped. “Tell me. What’s wrong with that? Please do.”
Yuvika laughed and said, “First of all, it’s mild; normal mild. Not much, but too mild for me. A strong enough coffee literally opens my mind. You know what; let me make you a good coffee.”
Yuvika was in the kitchen while Joe was looking around the hall and the garden. He took a deep look at the photos of Yuvika’s parents and grandmother. He also looked at the paintings hung on the walls which were signed by Shri. Sanjivani Shroff.
“Now taste it,” said Yuvika as she walked down the hall and put two mugs of coffee on the table.
Joe tasted it and said, “It is definitely strong enough to wake you up.”
They both sat on the chairs facing the lawn in the garden. “So, what makes you work on Sunday?” Joe brought up the topic.
“Mr Sinha, basically. Then the Dixits,” said Yuvika with a sip of her coffee.
“Yes. Mr Dixit is the boss and Dev is a friend.”
“Dev, your boss’s son?”
“How did you figure?”
“I don’t know. Just guessed it. He must be a rich brat then,” Joe shrugged and said.
“Yes. He is the son. But he is my friend too. We started our career at @ink together. He has put the same effort as I had.”
“But he would get promotions earlier,” said Joe, looking at his coffee.
Yuvika stared at Joe. “Everybody gets what he deserves.”
“Have you got what you deserve?” asked Joe.
“Of course! I have become the Editor in Chief.”
“And what about Dev? Is he..?”
“He was the Editor in Chief,” said Yuvika interrupting him.
“So basically you got the chair which Dev just left.”
“Why are you being judgemental? You don’t even know Dev.” She showed disgust.
“I am just being practical. You don’t really seem to care about office politics much, do you?”
“Listen, there is no politics in my office. And the second thing, please mind your own business.” She went back to her coffee. All she wanted to do was to finish the coffee and run back to the office.
“Okay. Then tell me something, the day you gave me lift to the city, why you were so annoyed?” asked Joe.
She narrowed her eyebrows and tried to remember.
Joe continued, “Now I am talking about my business. Why did you have to be rude to me? You didn’t know me too then.”
Putting the empty mug on the table, she said, “It was my first day in the new cabin with many more new responsibilities. And for your kind information, it was you who was rude. You talked rudely about Mr Irani.”
“For whom I just organised a party,” said Joe.
“Yes. But I just found it odd so I had to say it. And now, I am supposed to rush to the office.” She got up from the chair.
“You don’t really like me, do you?” asked Joe looking up at her.
“Well, I really appreciate your coffee gesture. But better learn to make it strong to lighten up things.”
Mr Sinha was in his 40s. He had written 6 novels and 2 biographies. He was the full-time author now. He lived in New York. He had specially come from the magazine. That’s why everyone agreed to work according to his timings.
He was expected to be someone who was older, somebody who was about to go bald. But he appeared way smarter than everyone’s assumption. His clean shaved face and sleek accent made the statement. Almost all the men in the office felt inferior when they saw Mr Sinha. He was in his stone grey suit. A smile on the face was invariant. He seemed to be an easy going gentleman.
He was sitting next to Mr Dixit in the conference room. Yuvika sat facing Mr Sinha. Dev entered the room and choose the chair next to Yuvika. After the exchange of formal introduction, Mr Dixit came to the point, “So basically, we want Ms Shroff to work with you as a co-writer. She has been with the magazine since years. She has been with it during its ups and downs.”
Mr Sinha, with his symbolic smile, spoke with an extreme ease, “So why not Dev? I mean he has lived with the magazine even at home.”
“I don’t doubt on his capability too,” said Mr Dixit.
Dev leant forward in his chair and cleared his throat, “Well, Mr Sinha, in my view, writing on something does not only require the enough information. It takes much more than this; emotions. You have to be emotionally connected to the element you are writing about. I am, of course, connected to the magazine. I breathe its air in a way. But Yuvika understands the magazine more than I do. So she will write on it as if she is writing about herself.”
Yuvika looked on her left to face Dev. But he looked down as soon as he finished. She heard Mr Sinha speaking, “Well then, I think I am going to have a great companion. I will be looking forward to a great partnership.” He got up from the seat and shook hands with Yuvika and then Mr Dixit and Dev. Dev noticed that he reached to Mr Sinha’s height.
Yuvika was about to leave for home when someone called her. She turned around to spot Mr Sinha. He was walking toward her. He stood there facing her and said, “We are starting to work from tomorrow.”
“Oh. I thought you have just come here to finalise things.”
“Well yes. But I feel that it should not get delayed anymore. I have also talked to Mr Dixit regarding the same,” said Mr Sinha. “Is it fine with you?”
It meant more delay in the Dalal’s story. But she could not speak about it to him.
“I was just hoping to be informed before the dates are fixed,” said Yuvika without looking at him.
“Well, this is the right time, I guess. My name is Jayendra, by the way.”
The work on book started with ease. Yuvika’s documentations helped them a lot. Jayendra was impressed by her ethics and dedication. By now, Yuvika had learned to keep a balance between the book and her regular work. She got one more reason to write more. It made her days more excited. It added a reason to run the entire day. One day, Jayendra suggested her to write her own book. To which she said, “Whatever ideas I get and subjects I have, I would like to use them for the magazine. In that way, I can spare more time for work. It feels good.”
A week went happily. It was a progressive week; a worth spending but extremely hectic, they thought. They decided not to work on Sunday. Yuvika stayed at home. She was going through her collection of books which she wanted to rearrange. She chose to give writing a break for a day. She heard a knock on the door which was pushed open. It was Joe, again with two thermoses of coffee.
“I have been trying to achieve excellence,” he spoke as soon as he entered the room. He put the thermoses on the table.
“Well, I need it the most right now. Thanks a lot.” She took the thermos and opened it. She inhaled the aroma, “Hm. It is better.” She took the sip and said, “Yes. It is definitely better.”
This time, the coffee was more enjoyable. The strong savour filled the blank space of the room and gave it a touch of energy. They chatted over various topics. Yuvika seemed to be finding Joe a sensible boy. He sounded more realistic than she had thought. She enjoyed talking to him.
“Is she your grandmother?” asked Joe pointing to the photo.
“I thought so. You look like her.”
“Thanks. But they say I look like my father,” said Yuvika pointing to another photo in the hall.
“Yes. They are right.” Joe stared at the photo. He didn’t say anything further. Sensing the reason behind his silence, she spoke, “They are no more. They died in a car accident many years ago.”
“So sorry to hear that,” said Joe avoiding eye contact with her. “And your grandmother?”
“I used to live with her in this house for years after my parents’ death. But she also passed away. She was too old.”
“Do you have any other family member? Like siblings?” asked Joe looking straight into her eyes.
“No.” Not a single word more!
They finished their coffee in silence.
Read the consecutive story here: https://faceoffiction.wordpress.com/consecutive-story/
The story is a complete fiction. Any resemblance to the real world is a pure coincidence.