Posted in Collaborative story, Story

Chapter Three

Rohit Agrawal was satisfied.

Winding back a couple of months, the Mumbai branch, for some reason was not performing as expected. All the cash inflow, the years of effort gone into setting up what was to be the new headquarters, gone down the drain. A most regrettably spectacular waste, it would seem.

To not let reports of his pure incompetence reach his seniors, the ex-branch manager had sent in reports containing only estimates and worded in the most aimless generalities, and included almost no concrete facts, other than an occasional parameter which happened to paint a roseate figure or the newest branch’s operation. Even that was rare. The visits to Mumbai themselves were fruitless. Rohit didn’t have the time to monitor the operations himself, with all the running about it took to set up the branch.

After replies to mail after mail were sent in as colourful presentations and quarterly reports containing bare slivers of usable information, Rohit asked in his immediate subordinate, Anand Vyom to look into exactly what was going on. Finding the branch grossly deficit in meeting its targets and horribly mismanaged, Anand replaced the manager with the first somewhat suitable applicant.

Rohit, finding the new manager inexperienced and way out of her depth, had taken it upon himself to oversee her initial months as manager. Long story short, Jyoti proved to be very competent and the time Rohit had expected to spend teaching her managerial strategies were spent discussing where Agrawal Enterprises was headed, and then on to where they were headed.

Things, it would seem, were going well. Well enough that the Mumbai visits were more recreational than supervisory.

And so, yet another day spent in his chamber in the offices, he went through his daily grind of mails back and forth, looking out to a most spectacular greyscale view of Marine Drive, when a voice on the intercom sent chills up and down his spine and the waves washing in to the coast started rolling in shades of blue and the sun spread warm yellow along the road and in through the window, lighting up all the room, colouring with it the carpeted floor and the light blue walls, the brown door and the woman in azure walking in.

An hour later, as she walked out, the blue hues of her dress wrapped up the rainbow in itself and took it along, leaving behind a rich businessman in a pale grey reverie.

Posted in Collaborative story

Chapter Two

“Aggarwal saab? Mr Aggarwal sir, over here,” the chauffeur called out, waving his arm in the air even after his slightly annoyed client had nodded in acknowledgment.

“It’s Agrawal, for-”

“Here Aggarwal saab, let me carry that for you,” the betel-leaf chewing man chattered on. “Arre sir, it must being very hot in Kolkata, no? How you people managing, tsk tsk. I tell you, you should…”

Rohit Agrawal rolled his eyes and tuned out the driver’s how-to-survive-in-Kolkata monologue. The only “chutter putter” he longed for belonged to someone who was probably serving jalebis to her parents at home, her eyes sparkling as she spoke about her day at work. He marvelled at her capacity to work for 8 hours straight, day in and day out, only to go home and cook food. She refused to let the hired help cook all the meals, claiming that making one hot meal a day with her own hands was her way of giving back to her parents, who had supported her throughout her rather long cycle of career changes.

“Besides, I won’t get to do this once I get married….” she had said coyly when he’d persisted.

He shut his eyes while the car sped over the Bandra-Worli sealink. He reminisced about the day they’d sat on Marine Drive, or as she fondly called it, ‘Queen’s Necklace’. He remembered how she had pointed out the street lights and compared them to pearls on a necklace. Who would have thought he’d grow to love her and her city almost as much as his hometown. True to her name, she brought light into his life. Metaphorically and literally.

That crimson red dress that she had worn the first time they had gone out, the bronze streak in her hair when he had brushed aside a stray ringlet, the flush in her cheeks when he’d complimented her. He longed for that colour, vivacious and bright, and he knew deep within that he would travel across continents to meet her if he had to. What blue had it been? Ink blue? No, prussian. Yes. Prussian blue. He laughed softly. The way she had shaken her head, with a tiny crease between her brows, her lips pursing just the slightest, till he had guessed the colour right.

The arrival of his destination pulled him out of his reverie. After he had put all his luggage in place, he called her up, like he always did when he reached. Her voice instantly relieved the exhaustion that had settled within him after the flight. After deciding when and where they would meet the next day, he hung up, a soft smile playing on his lips. It did not fade away till he had fallen asleep, probably thinking about her even in his dreams.

Posted in Collaborative story

Chapter One

So, here we are. And this time, we’re writing a story, in collaboration. We’ll take turns to write, one chapter each. So here goes.

The world was simple in the eyes of Rohit Agrawal. It all came down to a few straight lines. One from his penthouse in Park Street to the ground floor. A fifteen minute drive along Park Street to the offices of Agrawal Enterprises, and back. A bi-weekly flight to by Mumbai, and back. Occasional business meetings in the Astoria, and back. His world had the simplicity of luxury and the detachment of money and power. For him, it was a good world. It minded it’s business, he minded his.

Word had spread among his associates and fellow businessmen that he was hard and unfeeling. That he had no capacity for emotion and his only care in the world was his business. He never denied it. On the contrary, he encouraged such talk. He had never donated to charity, and seemed to let his brain run his life, his heart taking a back seat. All in all, the kind of man who would be accused of being a heartless businessman.

It was said he saw the world in black and white, in terms of his gains and losses. Those who said it, they had no clue how near they were to the truth. For Rohit Agrawal was colour blind. Partially. His condition was complicated. In fact, nobody else knew of it. Normally, he saw the  world in black and white, but with one person, one Jyoti Roy, manager of the Mumbai branch, he saw colour.

In his chauffeured BMW, he was trying to think of the world of colours, the last time he visited it. He couldn’t. Grey asphalt outside the window, his black leather seat, mottled-grey overcast skies above all kept dragging him into the real world, with the pale gray chauffeur and his black uniform, the dappled grey of the trees and the majestic white buildings speeding past. He looked at his own colourless palms and then picked up a colourful grey advertising brochure he was supposed to be reading. Today was one of the grey days.

At work, he attended a sales presentation, where he took two minutes to figure out which curve on the graph was green. Then with a masterful speech on why he believed the new tactics would at the least double sales, he went on to his own office. He decided he’d expand into the property business, and told his secretary tell his Delhi agent to scout for land he could invest in. This was followed by reports from various branches of Agrawal Enterprises, until the secretary reminded him of his 12:30 lunch with the Income Tax department representative, and the 5 pm flight to Mumbai. He stared at the black mahogany of his desk, and then of a face, candles fluttering in the wind, yellow irises in a white porcelain vase… suddenly, the vision vanished, and his hand reached into a drawer and drew out a sheaf of papers, and began poring over them intently, making notes in the margins, letting his work flood over him.

That evening, on the plane, he smiled at the white clad airhostess and idly toyed with a grey silk handkerchief, anticipating its miraculous bloom into a yellow sliver of fire when he entered an apartment that night. Then, shaking his head, he devoted himself to the mails his Delhi agent had sent him, occasionally making notes on a pad using a ball-point pen writing jet black ink. His attachment to colours surprised him.