(Chennai, TamilNadu, India)
The ambience was great – the bar was dimly but positively lit. Green chandeliers decorated the ceiling. 8 by 4 foot wooden tables gave a retro touch to the place. 6 foot long glass windows all around with push up curtains half pulled up, gave a good view of Chennai’s night traffic. The headlights of bikes and cars glittered on window which acted like a prism. My blue shirt, golden color imported beer, greenish lights, grayish smoke billowing from next table – made a lovely rainbow. I love this place, no wonder am a frequent flyer here.
I took a sip from my bottle and “so, is the girl Telugu speaking or Telangana speaking” with a chuckle to Lokesh.
Lokesh “re, there is only one Andhra. Yea, she is from Hyderabad”
I “oh, same caste only right??”
Lokesh “of course, if not, my family wouldn’t have proceed no”
I “Dowry evalavu – 50 lakhsa, haha”
Lokesh “we don’t have dowry system in our family, infact entire village da”
I “ok, I believed it” with a grin. I stepped into 4th bottle daringly, without my knowledge though.
Lokesh “if you find her in your company database no – please collect her details da. My mother wants your comments first”
I “hello boss, my company has 2 lakh employees with 24 Gayathris alone –“
Lokesh “her name is samrudhi, Samrudhi Thopucherla”
I “haan, let me check and let you know. Hey tomorrow, there is a function in my house, come by 9AM”
Lokesh “kaadhu ra, if I come no, your grandma wont like it”
I “come on, I'm a very liberal guy, I don’t believe in caste”
Lokesh “Mr. Liberal, please pay the bill”
I “Aama nee ennaikku da pay pannirukka. You get salary or not?”
Lokesh “yea, but not even half of what you amass in software company by just scratching the seat”. Working in central govt. job is the unlimited coupon he has acquired. This works in all hotels, restaurants, bars, railways/bus tickets, when im around…….Argh
After swiping my credit card over the Citibank card reader, I “chal, ceeya”
Lokesh pulled my hand and said “dei, I really like her da, if possible, please give me good news only da”. I smiled.
Shouting “ayyo” I got up from my bed with a jerk. Time was flashing 12:30AM in the digital clock on my plush bed. My head was spinning and stomach was rumbling due to the alcohol. I didn’t exactly remember the name, Lokesh had said. Normally, I’m pretty stable when I drink, I have attended lectures too in my engineering college after 3-4 bottles of beer, but yesterday night was unusually strong. Original sarakku pola. It can't be true, was it samrudhi, he said. There is a samrudhi in my team only – ah, world cannot be so small, after all.
I switched on my laptop from my duckback and kept it on the table and wore my round spectacles. With both hands on cheeks in anticipation, I connected to internet through wi-fi router and then to my company network. I cleared the “to-do” pop-up from my screen and searched for samrudhi name in company’s outlook gallery and found 6 results. And then I saw “Thopucherla” – and I vaguely rememberd Loki having said this phrase or rather surname. I clicked on it, it was indeed the girl from my team – my goodness.
Samrudhi had joined us as junior programmer in march 2009. She is a top rater and is a very smart person. But hold, I have seen her going to lunch, tea, snack, walk, garden, recreation breaks with Anil, senior programmer from my team. I have even seen them holding hands once in garden – ah. There is a rumor that they are going around but is it love? I didn’t know what to tell Lokesh, I couldn’t sleep the entire night.
I waited till the morning sun’s rays hit my window panes. My
house was buzzing with activity with usual festive fervor. My mom clad in silk sari was oscillating around the house mumbling mantras and depositing/withdrawing items from pooja spot. The priest was coughing up mantras in front of god’s photo splashed generously with turmeric and kumkum.
My cousin sisters and brothers were clad in bright silk saris and silk dhotis(without shirt of course) glancing anxiously across the clock and prasadhams. I pulled my cousin Gayathri, my best friend, aside. I vomited the entire situation to Gayathri, “its great to see you talk about girls and friends instead of oracle and SQL , hahaha”.
I “gayathri, he is my school time friend; I don’t want to misguide him by suggesting a girl who is in love with someone else. At the same time, I don’t want my friend to miss a girl like Samrudhi, u know what I mean. Also, Lokesh’s mom has a big mouth, need to be careful about this”.
Gayathri “That’s not your problem da. What kind of guy is your friend? Cant he talk to the girl directly and get her details? Also, going for breaks together, holding hands in park and all is not love – come on, welcome to 2010 Mr. Iyer” haha
I “so what do I tell him? so confused”
Gayathri “hmmm. Btw, how is this girl, Samrudhi?"
I "Samrudhi is very well behaved girl, in the sense, she is good, I mean she works very professionally and is very beautiful too, yea, isn’t she?" Damn, why didn't I notice this before. I always concentrate on working with the underperformers in the team. “Underperformers’ mentor”, that’s me, a consolation post given to a top rater for not getting team lead position, which went to my manager’s cousin sister. Wow, samrudhi, why didn’t I see you before, well ah. But who is this Anil guy – is he her lover? Ah, cant be – but why should I bother, I'm not going to marry her, or errr. What exactly should I tell Loki, then?. Then, hmmm
Tara, sipping the vending machine tea, asked “are you going to tell ok to that alliance?”
Samrudhi “no way, im not yet ready for marriage. My dad wants this to happen, since they have worked together in clinching a couple of business deals”
Tara “this one will be their third successful deal? Hahaha”
Samrudhi “hahaha yea, the guys works in a central govt. job but even that’s not a issue”
Tara with a grin “Then, Anil?”
Samrudhi “ah come on, how is he related to this”
Tara “Then whats going on between you 2, ahn? “
Samrudhi “are you interested in a detailed definition of our relationship? ”
Tara “ok ok, I wouldn’t need to know”
Samrudhi “good. You know what, the only guy I liked in this office was Suresh”
Tara with shock, “you mean Suresh Iyer, don’t kid me”
Samrudhi “yea, I really liked the way he carried himself and the way he organized himself. He didn’t change even when he was not given Team lead role – I like such guys, you know. They stick”
Tara “so what was the problem?”
Samrudhi “well, as such none, but I didn’t know how he would react if I had approached him. I felt he was a bit caste conscious – with his brahmin accent and always adjusting the “thread” like adjusting the bra. Hahaha”
Samrudhi “I felt, he wouldn’t stand for a inter-caste marriage and stuff, u know”
Just then, Suresh, in his sleek blue shirt and black trousers passed their table. Tara waved to him “hey Suresh, the shirt is good on you”
Suresh “hey thanks”
Samrudhi “leaving for the day?”
Suresh “yea, have to meet my old friend. Haven’t met him in 10 yrs, so leaving early”. He walked off adjusting his “poonal”.
Samrudhi had her eyes fixed on his back. Tara “enna feelings-a??”.
Samrudhi “nah, nothing”
Tara with a grin "are you sure?"