Next morning, I had to get into an inter-departmental meeting right away. There was an event being organised by the marketing team for customers, and the developers, the managers, the corporate communication and the finance had to be present to thrash out various issues.
I didn’t know who would be there from the marketing team since many from that department were marked in the cc in the mail. I knew Narendran would be there, of course, but who else? From my team, only I was there since Maheswari was on leave and it was more to do with my work than any one else’s.
I logged in to my system and left for the meeting right away. I didn’t get a chance to talk to Shelley, though I did the thumbs down sign as she looked at me questioningly.
I went in and noticed Karthik with one of the marketing guys. I quietly slunk into a seat on the other side, hoping he would head out or at least ignore me.
Of course, just then someone has to shout across to catch your attention. When you are in your seat all day long and hoping for conversation, no one remembers you. Try to hide and someone has to notice you and ask you an all-unimportant question, drawing attention to you.
I smiled and walked around to the perpetrator of this indiscretion so that I didn’t reply loudly. The room went abuzz again as others went back to their conversations till awaiting someone to bang the hammer and begin the meeting. I had to smile at Karthik, of course, and he acknowledged with a nod.
The meeting began soon after, and I noticed Karthik leaving the room. So someone else was going to handle this project, I thought.
The meeting went on and on, with teas and coffees being downed like water. It was beyond lunchtime by the time we finally broke up. I was quite up to my neck with budgetary requirements when I returned to my seat.
The moment I sat down in my seat, Shelley came over and whispered, “What happened?”
I gave her the dope on the morning meeting when she tut-tutted. “Who wants to know the boring stuff!”
I frowned – what else? Then I remembered the fiasco, and laughing, said, “Non-starter. Nothing happened. No spark,” for she had led me to believe that one feels a spark if things work out.
She looked up in surprise. “Really? But I thought you both would be inseparable by now!”
I grimaced. “Really, Shelley! Before this horoscope thing, have you ever thought of us that way?”
Shelley looked sheepish. “As a matter of fact, I have.” I gasped in disbelief. I chuckled and got up, and let out a startled squeal as a figure loomed close.
I looked at him guiltily, but he had come for Shelley. She also blushed and the two went over to her seat.
I went in to the rest room to calm myself. What a close call. Had he heard any of this nonsense Shelley and I had discussed?
As I returned to my seat, Karthik was just about to leave. He whispered, so low that even I didn’t realise he was talking to me, “Tried pinging you. Was wondering where you vanished to!”
I stared in surprise, of course, unable to contain myself. Only Shelley noticed and was after me the moment he left the room.
I sat at my system and rolled my eyes at her. “Doesn’t he know when to stop, really!” I said in a furious whisper.
But Shelley was triumphant and careless. “I am telling you, this is going to work out.”
There he was, on the chat, saying a hi and could we meet. I saw Shelley looking at me expectantly and I turned the screen to her. She smiled so happily, it was almost as if he had asked her out.
“What are you grinning about?” I asked, close to anger now. I was ready to put this guy behind me and move on. I thought in the traditional system, you were allowed only one peek at the girl.
“What are you raging about? At least he seems to be interested!” she retorted.
“Am I supposed to be thrilled at that?” I asked furiously, all feminism rising up in me.
She sat again across me and said, “Listen, if you don’t like the guy, say that. But if that is not the issue, then what is your problem in meeting him again?”
I took a deep breath and called my father. He was also silent for a second, then said, “Last shot today, ok? If it doesn’t work out today, tell him so yourself.” Trust dad to leave the ball in my court!
With pursed lips, I typed, “Ok, where?”
He mentioned the café again. I grimaced in disgust, but said okay. It couldn’t get any worse.