Monday, 19 December 2011

A smile from the past - II

Read part I here: A smile from the past

Sneha reached the designated location at around 5:15 and on her way had already cooked up an excuse for being that bit late in case Madhav questioned her. She had been to that particular Cafe Coffee Day joint in City Center, Salt Lake quite a few times with her colleagues in the past three months and knew quite well that it wasn’t the ideal kind of location for a date, which the proposed meeting seemed to be. She had decided on a much casual look and was dressed up in a full-sleeved purple T shirt and a pair of blue jeans. As she was taking the steps towards the restaurant, she tried hard to remember any Madhav Ranjan she had met in the past. There was none.

Madhav Ranjan was seated in the open area of the Cafe Coffee Day joint well before 5 pm. Over the years he had learnt the value of being on time, in fact before time if possible and had thus made it into a habit. Madhav was pointing out something on his phone to his assistant James when he saw a young lady approaching the table with a puzzled look.

“Hello. You must be Sneha”, James said as both the men stood up and smiled at her.

“Ah yes. But Madhav…”, Sneha responded.

“I am James, Mr.Madhav’s personal assistant. Here’s my boss”,

Sneha looked at the other man. He appeared to be in his mid-thirties and his face looked strikingly familiar but she couldn’t remember having met him before at all. “So there’s going to be a third person carrying out the conversation? Great!”, Sneha thought and had almost pronounced the last word aloud when Madhav extended his hand. They shook hands and Madhav signalled James to leave.Sneha saw that before leaving James took out a stack of small paper chits and put it down on the table along with a pen. “Oh so that’s how it’s going to be. Pretty cool”, Sneha thought,  quite pleasantly amused at the idea.

Madhav moved forward, pulled a chair and gestured Sneha to take a seat. “So Mr. Madhav Ranjan, what’s your story?”, Sneha started with the one single question that was hovering her mind for the last six hours. Madhav smiled and pulled out a folded piece of paper from his coat pocket and gave it to her. Sneha opened it and started reading.

“Hello Sneha,
I know this entire thing must be appearing quite strange to you and I am really sorry for causing you any sort of discomfort…”

Sneha stopped and looked up at Madhav. She could see a faint touch of nervousness on the man’s face and said, “No no, it’s fine. In fact the uniqueness of the occasion has really got me in. Besides, I hope you understand the little bit uneasiness regarding the way the meeting was set up. And yes, you really look familiar. I hope this note of yours explains that part”

Madhav gave a wide grin and nodded. Sneha smiled back and once again started reading the note.

 “….But trust me, you can’t imagine how happy I am to once again see the person who had left such a deep impression on my life…”

“Deep impression? Me?”, Sneha said to Madhav in much amazement. Madhav gave a brief nod and gestured her to keep reading.Meanwhile, two cups of Cappuccino were ordered.

“… I know you can’t make sense of what I said just now. Let me help you out Sneha. Let me take you 5 years back in Delhi. It was a hot summer morning and we were in the same taxi headed towards Cannaught Place. You got down near Karol Bagh but not before helping me out to make a life-changing decision. I could speak back then and was working on my laptop. Remember anything?”

That was all he had written in the note but was enough to give Sneha’s memory the required jolt. She could see the day clearly in her mind. A man dressed in formals was frantically typing something on his laptop and received calls in between. He looked very much nervous and was sweating profusely. She had enquired the man if everything was okay. He looked at her for a while and then turned his laptop to make the screen face her. “Just look at this. I have designed this web-site for a company. It was all ready two days back when the idea for a new feature dawned on me”, the man seemed desperate as he moved his finger over the screen and clicked on links in between. “See this tab here. If you click on it an entire new window opens up that gives a virtual tour of the company’s achievements with an animated mascot guiding the viewers”, the man showed Sneha how it worked and kept on clicking on tabs and links.

“It looks good. But why do you look so bothered?”, Sneha had asked the man back then.

“Bothered? I am scared!! I have worked on this project for months. But now I fear they might not approve it. I briefed them about the new feature over the phone. But it seems like they prefer the conventional ways. I know this design is unique and really want this to be on the site. I am undecided whether to keep it and present it to them or change the codes again right now”.

Sneha had replied, “Okay. See, I don’t know much about these technical stuffs. But if you really believe in your idea then keep faith in yourself. Go ahead with this design. Take a chance”. The man kept staring blankly at her for some time and then went back to working. While she was getting off, the man wrote his name and number on a piece of paper and gave it to her asking her to call her if she knew of any web-development work. Sneha remembered telling him that she had left her cell-phone at home.

Now five years later, that very man was sitting right before her but no longer able to speak. “Yeah, I do remember it now. So how did you end up losing your voice? And how was that incident so remarkable for you?”, Sneha still had questions to be answered. She saw that Madhav was already writing on one of those chits. He handed over the chit to her in a while. It read:

“Take a chance- those words of yours gave me the much needed impetus. I presented that very design you saw in the car and it was accepted well by the board members. They not only approved the design and paid me handsomely but in fact signed me on for maintenance and support of their site….”

Sneha looked up at Madhav , gave a warm smile and continued reading.

“…One year later, my life took a disastrous turn. I met with an accident while getting down from the train and ended up hurting my throat badly. I lost my voice. As I had to make a lot of presentations in my job I couldn’t keep up with it and had to leave. I felt depressed. I thought about starting my own small venture with the money I got from the medical insurance but couldn’t gather the courage to do so. Once again, your words inspired me. I took a chance and started my web-development firm in Mumbai and in four years it has grown into a renowned company. Now you know how you changed my life. And I have waited all these years just to say thanks to you“

Sneha had a wide grin on her face when she finished reading the note. “Wow, that’s such a surprise. I don’t know what to say. By the way, how did you get my number?”

 Madhav handed her another note.

“Suddenly one day, I saw your face on one of the Facebook friend suggestions. We had a mutual friend, Anjali Thakur. I wrote to her about this entire thing and asked for your number. I got to know that you are in Kolkata at present and so when I had to come here for work I made up my mind to meet you up“

“Well, well so that’s what this is all about”, Sneha sighed, “I am really glad that you found me. It feels great to know how the small things that we do in our day-to-day life might end up leaving an impression on someone’s life. Amazing indeed”.

Over the next few minutes, Madhav and Sneha shared their life's experiences with each other through notes, hand gestures and a lot of pleasant expressions. Sneha talked and Madhav listened. He passed on notes and she read them.

Sneha left for home at around 8 pm. Madhav had a flight back to Mumbai in an hour. While parting, they exchanged a promise to remain in touch in the future. “I have saved your number now Madhav. So no guessing games next time.” Sneha said to Madhav and they both broke into a laughter. Little did they know that in those moments they were writing the prologue of a lifelong story,the seeds of which were planted in destiny's womb, five years back.

When Sneha reached her flat, she immediately ran towards her cupboard. “The number”, Sneha remembered “I did keep all those visiting cards and all in my diary those days” She found the old diary and looked for the piece of paper Madhav had given her. She found it in between the pages. Sneha checked the number. It had been the same all those years.

Just then her eyes fell on a small cardboard box. The box contained pastel colours. Sneha noticed that the bottle containing brown colour had turned over and somehow the colour had leaked, leaving brown-coloured marks on few of the cloths kept near the box. The colour-box was a gift that her closest friend Sunaina had given her on the last day of school as Sneha was quite a painter back then and it had the following words written over it, quite ironically:

For my best friend Sneha, the most careless girl I have ever known”.

Sneha smiled instead of freaking out at this revelation. It was the same smile that was with her ever since she bade Madhav goodbye. The smile now had an added pleasure of another past remembrance and at the same time, the embarrassment of realising her fault in shouting at the dhobi in the morning.

Sneha knew that her smile would last for quite some time now. It was a smile that had flown in from the past and settled on her lips.


  1. well..the story is great...but expected a better finishing...nice try though :)

  2. Well written again but the suspense of part I could have portrayed in a better way.. A sweet short story..I liked the picture.. :)

  3. @R|B: That's how the story transpired in my mind and it had to be that way. I will appreciate it if you can write down a different ending here in the comments. Anyways thanks :)

    @Ruchira: I tried not to include any melodramatic developments and keep it as realistic as possible. Regarding the picture, I had to search a lot for one nearly suitable image and then tweaked with it to match the story. Thank you :)

  4. Hello Pro.
    I actually liked this. The reference to FB friends was a nice touch. It was a pleasant trip down memory lane.

    I only have one minor suggestion, if I may...maybe put the conversation in a different color. The font you used was a little hard on my eyes. My blog posts have a black background too. If I want something to stand out, I usually use the orange or yellow colors. You could even try red. Have a play with color & see what you think.

    Thanks for sharing & visiting. I love hearing from you.

    A Woman's Poverty

  5. @Andy: Even I felt so while posting it but couldn't make up my mind. Using different colors would make it look quite tacky. I have changed the font now for Madhav's notes. Thank you so much for your support sir :)


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