Friday, October 29, 2010

A Tale of Times

A story, as anyone will agree, needs a few characters, a background and a path from start to finish. Sometimes something take prominence over others for example the characters. The characters overshadow everything and the story proceeds in a more or less logical fashion. You can tell from the start to end. Like mathematical formula. Like the one, which I had the good fortune of experiencing in my early career. I share it with due dilligence to the original affairs and yet, strictly deny any resemblance to the characters.

They were friends. Bharat, or as I remembered him - the century-man, was the first one. He was flaunting the densest beard in our office corridor. He had bright eyes behind heavy frames. He had a sluggish approach to everything around him. And above all, his scale of thought involved centuries - thus the century-man.

Bharat would occasionally rise above my cubicle wall and invite for a short coffee-chat. His discussions, as I found, were boring. It would involve the silk route, the scriptures of Hamurabi and then suddenly jump to the earliest bronze age relics discovered Indus Valley. He moved along human history, and also across the vast possibilities of Martian colony like a gigantic time-traveller. His slow speech with long pauses, completely disregarding the time-pressure of our daily chores, fitted extremely well with his mannerisms, his dress, his beard. He would take a cup of coffee and go on discussing the advent of coffee beans. In most of the cases I was invited, I had to leave citing some real urgent work. I never knew how he managed his. However, he found some active and passive listeners among the steady stream of coffee-drinkers.

Among those listeners, Mathew was the most vociferous. I named him the hour-man. Mathew was my direct project manager. He was bound by time. And Bharat openly criticised him as a slave of time. They argued. Mathew impatiently and Bharat patiently. And still they were the best of mates I have seen in my office.

A clean-shaven, well-dressed, hurried-looking Mathew trying to follow the gigantic-scale accounts of Bharat. That was the commonmost scene I encountered in our office coffee room. Bharat would point that there lies nothing in thinking in the scope of a city or a state, it matters more on how Dravidian races mingle with supposed external invadeers. Mathew would disagree and show the multitude of divisions in terms of Christianity and its growing acceptance in his native region. Bharat would point that as a mere upper layer, growing and disappearing with time. His scale was vast, be it in time or space. He would argue that the picture only gets clear if we zoom out maximum. It becomes easy for him to tell that India is bound to get vivisected and conquered again. Their daily exchange was like that - never destined to meet anywhere, be it time or space. And still, they agreed to disagree. To me, they were century-man and hour-man.

Mathew was extremely obsessive about project deadlines. His standard was high, meeting the deadlines were imporant to the hour and not to the day. His daily routine was divided by hours. I still remember observing him to take a banana at everyday exactly at 4 pm. Never before, never late. I wondered, like many other colleagues of mine, how he got the time to chat with century-man. But, it was like that.

And then, Annu joined our company.

Annu was the lady, everyone liked to talk about. She was the fastest English speaker I understood. I had a Tamil colleague, who could speak even faster but, beyond my cognizance. Annu was the limit. Annu dressed hip. She knew the in-thing of fashion almost on weekly basis. Her mobile was having a different ringtone on different times of day. And to top it all, she was breathtakingly beautiful. Soon people started helping her in all kinds of projects. And then they started dropping her notes. She handled those like simple pieces of paper. Torn, tossed, dumped.

However, when I overheard Mathew and Bharat discussing over Annu, I could not suppress my surprise. Going by the mathematical formulae, I thought that moment-lady will be a apt naming for Annu. So, century and hour-man were talking over the moment-lady. And to my astonishment, both of them kind of agreed for the first time I knew.

"She is something that centuries of search led to."
"Yes, perhaps you are right Bharat. I feel like time is moving slower". Hah, time delation ! I thought. But again they started disagreeing.
Bharat said, "No. Time moves faster". Back to the square again.

The rest of the story was more predictable than I imagined. I learnt from another colleague that both Bharat and Mathew soon joined the wannabe suitors club. Bharat wrote a rather unusual quick-paced love-letter. Mathew took few days to compose one. The tone was slow and deep.

The climax happened the day, on which I was about to leave the company. I went around bidding farewell to everyone. I went to Annu's cubicle to find her not being around. I could see some pieces of paper littered around on her desk. Mathew's handwriting was known to me. It was too difficult to supress my curiosity. I quickly managed to catch a glimpse. The phrase "the journey of Ulysses" caught my attention when Annu appeared. "Take those, take those" - she told laughingly. I was embarrased but, managed a smile. "They write notes like 80-year old philosophers to grab my attention" - Annu told me, with a blink in her eyes. I retreated.

I found both Mathew and Bharat in the coffee room. They looked morose, surely not because of my leaving, I knew. I bade them goodbye, pretending to not know anything. I turned around to take a glass of water. They were discussing in a subdued mode.

"Sometimes..you know Mathew" told Bharat.

I almost could sense the ending.

"time stops beating" - Bharat, the century-man, told.
"you are right, very true". - Mathew, the hour-man, agreed.



Salvador Dali, and not me, drew this extremely thought-provoking painting.

1 comment:

  1. It´s a good story,with very modern thought & the ending is really excellent.

    ohhh, i forgot to tell about the picture, it´s very meaningful & feeling really "time stopped beating"

    ReplyDelete