The IPL game was about to begin. What an elephantine son! Kumar couldn’t find another phrase in his mind.
The TV was showing the huge, delirious crowd at Wankhede stadium. All the positive emotions went awry when Kumar saw Nita Ambani followed by her son walking towards their seats.
He grit his teeth and hit his palm hard on the sofa.
“What’s the matter?” Meena asked. Kumar’s wife knew instantaneously that he was upset.
“These ultra rich people,” Kumar said.
“The Ambanis,” Kumar said.
“Yes, what about them?”
He had read Arundhati Roy’s article in The Outlook, from which he knew a few facts. Like Mukesh Ambani was personally worth 20 billion dollars. His building was the most expensive dwelling ever built with twenty-seven floors, three helipads, six floors of parking, nine lifts, six hundred servants and what not. He could not remember other details, probably Roy’s essay had mentioned hanging gardens, gymnasiums and such extravagant adorations.
When he had read the article, he didn’t feel anything wrong.
“They have a lot of money and they can splurge on massive, grotesque mansions. Very rich people can spend their money the way they want.”
“So what’s the problem?”
“But why the cricket team? Why can’t the ownership of cricket clubs be given to a group of middle class people? I’m angry – the super rich becoming ultra rich.”
“So, you don’t like the Mumbai Indians team?”
Of course, there were things he liked about the Mumbai Indians. He loved to watch Sachin, he loved the fact that Malinga and Sachin are on the same side, he loved the fact that Rayudu, a fellow Telugu blazes his guns. And so on.
“No, not at all. I like the team. But not the fact that the Ambanis own the team.”
“Relax, why such angst about things not in our control. You have me and we have this peaceful, lovely home.” Meena’s sweet reply was an antidote and a relaxant smile came upon his face. If the relaxant smile could be translated into words, they would mean it’s a beautiful life and a fair world.
His mobile phone rang. It was a colleague from office. Kumar headed the e-governance projects that the state government had awarded to his company.
He spoke for five minutes and hung up.
He said to Meena, “We got a call from the I.T. secretary. Apparently NIC officials want to meet us tomorrow to review the project. Need to go to the office to check a few things.”
Meena knew that when Kumar says he had to be in the office, it was really required. Kumar had told her many times that the e-governance projects were less of technical challenges and more of bureaucratic hassles and ego massages.
“What needs to be done?” Meena asked.
“Yeah you know the drill. We have to convince the NIC guys that the state government did the right thing by giving the project to us and not to them. Enterprise Application Integration is our strong point.”
Meena nodded. “You will miss the last part of this IPL game.”
“No probs, I will catch up on the highlights or re-telecast.”
The discussions at the office took about two hours. It was nearly midnight when Kumar drove his Honda Accord out of the parking lot. The golden colour gave the car a bright presence on the road and in the parking lot. He likened it to ‘my golden chariot.’
He took proper care to regularly service the car and get the dents removed. Every weekend, he vacuumed and spray cleaned the interiors. The leather seats enhanced the ritzy look. He loved driving his 10-lakh rupees car.
The roads were empty and the street lights were bright. The melodies of the late 90’s were playing in the FM radio. As he took the turns smoothly, IPL thoughts entered his head again.
He tried to divert his mind. He tried to think of the plans he had at the office, he tried to think of the movie he and Meena would watch on the weekend, he tried to think of the restaurants he liked Biryani at. Try as much as he could, he just couldn’t let go of the thoughts on the Ambanis and Mumbai Indians.
“The Ambanis have a monstrous ugly mansion. And they get to own Mumbai Indians. They have a lot of money and they want still more money?” He muttered to himself.
Back home, he watched the highlights. He saw Harbhajan Singh bear hugging Nita Ambani and lifting her in the air. It was just too much. He started cursing. Rich f*c*i*g b*s*a*ds. Curse, curse, curse. He grumbled abuses at the Mumbai Indians.
One thing he was sure. His bad mouthing and cursing the Mumbai Indians has an effect. They might win a lot of games, but to date, the Mumbai Indians haven’t won the IPL even once. Only because of his bad wishes.
But that isn’t enough. If only I could kill them. The gripping grimace on his face symbolized his thoughts — If only I could kill them.
Kumar picked up the day’s copy of Andhra Jyothi lying outside the door and sat at the table for breakfast. Every morning, he ate his cereal and upma while reading the newspaper.
The center page essays in Andhra Jyothi interested him a lot and he read them carefully everyday. But today he was intrigued. There was a centre page essay giving a statement by a Maoist. It called for armed warfare, endorsing killing for the achievement of objectives.
How people become Maoists, he mumbled. How could they think about killing, Kumar pondered. His breakfast, getting dressed up and the kiss to Meena — all happened in quick succession. He went down in the lift, got out and walked towards his car.
He saw Nagesh, the watchman, leaning against the wall and watching the television intently. As Kumar opened the car door and sat down, he heard the same statement he’d read in the paper coming in the TV news.
Normally the watch man smiles at Kumar and guides the car out. Today he didn’t come. Nagesh looked at the car for a few seconds and turned his head back towards the TV, hearing the news with intensity.
As the car exited the parking lot and entered the road it suddenly flashed to Kumar. The intense look on the watchman’s face was a gripping grimace.
Even though it was a hectic day, the watchman’s face haunted him. Nagesh may want to kill me. He tried to focus on his work. Currently he was in a small meeting with a senior executive.
“Sir, we fixed this issue proactively,” Kumar said.
Bhaskar was the only manager in the company Kumar addressed with respect. Like a lot of other software companies, employees were called with their first name. Kumar never called Bhaskar with the first name.
“How did you find the issue?” Bhaskar asked.
“Sir, the testing team suspected some slowness in some of the screens and we immediately jumped in.”
“What did you do?”
“Sir, I spoke to the test lead, gathered the slow screens, ran the transactions through the instrumentation tool and we ran the code through the profiler.”
“And you found the bottlenecks,” Bhaskar’s said as a confirmation more than a question.
“After that, things are easy.”
“Yes, sir. It was tuning the loops, writing less-cost queries and caching some data.”
“That’s good. But that doesn’t make it proactive.”
“Can you explain, sir?”
“Predicting the problems our work can create and stopping them from occurring is what being proactive means.”
“Got it sir,” Kumar said with a smile.
Interaction with Bhaskar were experiences in continuous education. The lessons were applicable even in real life outside of work.
He reached home in the evening. Nagesh was sitting on the floor. Kumar got down from the car and walked towards him.
“Nagesh, which school do your son and daughter go to?”
“Saptagiri school, saar,” the watchman said.
“Are they going to school regularly?”
“No saar. The school told them not to come as I did not pay the term fee.”
“How much is the term fee?”
“Two thousand rupees, saar”.
“Watchman, I will pay your children’s school fees from now on. For the current term, use these two thousand rupees.” Kumar removed his wallet from his trousers, counted the notes and handed them over to Nagesh.
“Saar, the children will go to school from tomorrow.” Then came the antidote — a relaxant smile on Nagesh’s face.