05. Conspiracy | Patoli and Biryani

August 16, 2020 Sujay Sarma

It had been almost over three months since I had visited the park that I had called ‘home’ for so long. Today, I was there to drop off a young couple and their naughty little boy. “Hey!” called the familiar ice-cream seller by the gate. “You don’t grace us with your visit nowadays.” He scolded…


It had been almost over three months since I had visited the park that I had called ‘home’ for so long. Today, I was there to drop off a young couple and their naughty little boy.

“Hey!” called the familiar ice-cream seller by the gate. “You don’t grace us with your visit nowadays.” He scolded me in mock anger.

I parked the car and went over to meet him. Just then, the park’s watchman came by.

“A letter came for you some days ago.” The watchman said after greeting me and asking about how I was doing. “Wait here, I’ll go get it.”

The only letters that would come to the park would be from the companies I had interviewed at earlier. But it had been almost a year now since I had last interviewed anywhere. I had been happy as a cabbie. Happy and content. I had forgotten my technology background completely.

As I stood there amused, the watchman emerged from his shack by the gate with a manila envelope. “Here.” He said, handing it to me. “Open it.”

Reluctantly, I opened it. What was I supposed to do if at last I had gotten one of those jobs? With tear-clouded vision, I scanned through the one-page letter.

I had got the job.

“Hey! Congratulations! Treat!” they all demanded.

I shook my head, got into my cab and drove off. I was confused. Somewhere deep inside of my stomach, there was a bad feeling. A pull that said I would regret it if I took the job. But there was nothing reasonable that could explain the feeling.

The salary on offer was great, more than ten-fold of what I was making as a cabbie. I could move out of the shack and get a proper apartment and live a better life. A life that I had studied hard for.  

But I would have to leave all of this behind. My freedom, my friends. I had genuine people that cared about me. Rajan, Meeta. I would have to become a clock and someone’s slave. For what? Was it worth it? What was the value of the trade?

My mind and heart were in heavy turmoil. I didn’t go home that night. It was strange I had come to think of Rajan’s house and my home. There was that pang again.

Instead, I headed to Kamathipura. Secretly, Rajan had a girlfriend there. When I had found out about it, he had warned me not to utter a word to Meeta. I went straight to her apartment.

“What’s wrong with my second favourite customer?” She greeted with patent sweetness.

I told her my predicament. Chameli heard me patiently. She always did. Though, I could never be quite sure if she only pretended to listen to everything her customers had to tell her.

Chameli was a sweet girl. She had been born to another working woman who lived across the street from this building. Her mother had long since passed on. Chameli knew of no other life and had embraced the profession without doubts or regret. She didn’t have dreams of doing anything else. This was her life. She knew nothing else.

“Take the job.” She said finally.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“Well, how long are you going to stay with Rajan and his wife?” Chameli scolded me. “Don’t you want to start a family too some day? And what about when they have children?”

“I already had a family. A wife, a child. Everything.” I said glumly.

“Well, where is it written that you have to have it only once?” She chided. “They are gone now, aren’t they? You deserve to be happy.”

I considered her advice.

“You must go. Take the job.” She commanded.

Mindlessly, I almost rose up.

“No, no! Not tonight. Tonight, we celebrate.” She laughed pulled me down on her bed.

The next morning as I dressed, I looked at my phone. There were over fifty missed calls from Meeta. She must have been worried sick when I didn’t come back. I would go straight home.


About the author:

Sujay Sarma is an IT industry veteran, about 43 years of age. He has spent 25 years in the IT industry and has done it all, and seen it all. Now, his passion is writing [blogs, stories, novels] and music. He has his own YouTube channel called "Sujay Sarma's Musical Adventures" where he posts his covers and originals, and a Podcast named "Interesting People Interesting Stories".
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