The humming sound of my cell phone, which was lying on the floor in vibration mode, broke the silence of early morning. It was 6:30 AM. I usually get up around 7:30 AM since I joined this new job. I had put my cell on floor last night before sleeping. I picked up the phone to take the call while lying half-asleep on my bed, my roommate sleeping on his side of bed. You know… how hard it is to come out of sleep during last hour of sleep-session.
“Hello !”, I answered the call with my eyes still closed.
“Good morning Betu” (my parents call me Betu sometimes.. with love & affection..which is Hindi word for “Son” roughly).
“Good Morning, Dad“, I replied with a smile, while my eyes still closed.
“Are you still asleep? We had planned to call you half-an-hour earlier but then we gave it a second thought and decided not to disturb you so early in morning. We could not wait any longer now. Warmly wishing you many happy returns of the Day. May God bless you with all the …….(.a long list of blessings and best wishes for my …healthy… wealthy… prosperous,… happy life … ) …. “, sounded the phone.
I kept on silently hearing their best wishes and blessings, with my smile growing after every blessing I received. Finally they ended it with a lyrical “HAPPY B I R T H D A Y“, a little bit loudly, as we are usually accustomed to put all our energy in wishing someone with that phrase. It was loud enough for me that I had to momentarily take the handset away from my ears.
Now it was my turn. Till now, I was lying on my stomach and was facing in opposite direction to my roommate’s bed. I raised my head now and turned back to see if I did not happen to disturb his peaceful sleep. And I found him still asleep. “Thank you, Dad, Mom“, I replied to my parents. They were on speaker phone mode on the other side.
I tossed and turned upside on the bed to make myself more comfortable. Parents’ voice had turned a bit in to emotional tone now. It was natural as it was my 20th birthday and I was away from home and family for the first time in my life. Even I missed them badly. They said, “Beta ! You were with us here on your last birthday, but this year we are all missing you badly today. Anyways, that’s the way the life is. You take care of yourself and have a blast ! Enjoy your birthday with your friends and colleagues.“
Now my Mom took over and started asking me about my plans for celebrating my birthday and who are my new friends and if any of them is a “special one”. I assured her that although I too am missing them on my birthday, but yes, I will enjoy it to the fullest with my colleagues. And to the last question of “Special friend” (She wanted to know about my girl friend, if any, or any close friend ), I told her “No Mom ! It’s hardly two weeks for me in this new place, and most of time is spent in office, so I hardly get time for anything else. Life here is too hectic.“
After small chit chat and some more instructions to me to be followed for my sound health, finally the call was over. It took around 15 minutes to us in the call. I checked again on my roomie, he was still enjoying his sleep. I also decided to compensate my incomplete sleep-session by extending the time limits for today and closed my eyes for a quick nap.
When I woke up, it was already 8:40 AM. I was running late for the office. Extremely late ! I jumped out of the bed, looked at the clock again. I had hardly half-an-hour to leave for the office. My room-mate had already left for his office. He usually leaves between 8:30 to 9:00 AM. I rushed to finish the daily needs and took the shower. There was no time for breakfast now, so I decided that I will be picking up something en-route or will take something in office canteen, and left for the office at 9:20 AM. I was running late by 20 minutes, so decided to hire an auto-rickshaw or rickshaw, after coming out of colony, but it was hard to find one available during these peak hours.
I reached office at 10:00 AM, around half an hour late. When I reached at my desk, I was informed that HR manager had visited to see me but I was not available. I dropped an email to HR Manager, out of courtesy, apologizing her for me being late today and asking the reason for her visit. Right after 10 minutes of my dropping her email, she entered my cubicle, handed over to me a Formal Happy Birthday Greeting card, and a small gift hamper (some chocolates and cup cakes), and a free meals coupon for lunch from office canteen. She announced my “Happy Birthday” event to all my colleagues and thus I was made the Star of the day in my center of excellence of around 100 odd people, I barely knew any of them.
Everyone started wishing me a happy birthday with a smile and a handshake. A few guys, who had their seats closer to my cubicle and had established good acquaintance in these two weeks also gave me a friendly hug (Guys only) too, and then most of the crowd went back to their seats and resumed their work except a few who are sitting close to my cubicle. We (the small group of neighborhood colleagues) decided to have a small party after office hours, of course, I was the host. Some more pretty girls from relatively distant seats joined the gang when they heard the word “Party” on offer. But it was okay for me to add more beauties among the beasts, so I readily welcomed them (keeping in mind my Mom’s words of “Special friend” for a prospective bride). Before they left, all my B’day cup-cakes were gone. They even did not consider it worth to offer at least one piece to me, the birthday boy. But they did not forget to tell me how delicious and soft these cakes were.
In around half an hour after this celebration event, the security guard of my floor entered my cube. He was carrying a bouquet of Red Roses in a Basket (vase). He asked to confirm my name (although it was already there on my desk’s name plate, but he still confirmed if I am the same person) and then handed over the bouquet of Red Roses to me. Everyone around me, including my manager, were looking at me with a sign of intriguing the history-geography of newly arrived Roses.
Girl sitting behind me in her cubicle almost shouted, “Roses are Red !”, and when I turned back, she winked at me with a big mischievous smile on her face. “Who is she?”, she asked.
I replied, “I don’t know who sent me these“. I asked the security guard again if these were really meant for me or if he is not mistaken my desk for someone else. He confirmed positively with my seat number and left after wishing me a happy birthday. Even I was surprised.
I was very new to this office and this city and had no prior acquaintance in the city. If it would not have been the office culture to wish Birthday to its employees, no one would have know that it’s my birthday. The neighboring girls and guys again surrounded my desk in curiosity. They seemed more curious to find out, name and details of my girl friend, which according to them, I was hiding till now. I searched the bouquet and found a pair of Cadbury Almonds chocolates,
And a greeting card between the roses, which looked like
The girl almost screamed with excitement now, “See ! I told it… Roses are Red“. She emphasized on “are” and stressed on “Red”.
I said, “Yes, I see these are really beautiful, and yes these are Red.” I paused momentarily, and then continued, “So what? Red roses are more common than any other roses, that does not make it special.” Everyone in the group was now looking at my face, trying to figure out if I am acting over-smart or really dumb who doesn’t know significance of red roses. I really didn’t know it by that time.
She continued, “It’s okay if you don’t want to share it with us and want to keep your love life as a secret from your friends“. Everyone was sure that I have been keeping my love life secret and don’t want to tell anyone about my girlfriend. But the dilemma for me was – “Who is this my secret girlfriend?”. I was even curious and moreover concerned, if this was any kind of prank being played on me by any of office colleagues.
I kept on waiting for whole day, to get a clue about this “secret” girl-friend who popped up all of a sudden today on my 20th Birthday, but nothing special happened after this. The day ended as a routine office day. When I started to pack my bag at end of the day to leave for home, the girl reminded me to “Carry the beautiful flowers” that someone “special” has sent with such a great love to me.
I did accordingly.
All the way back to my home, I was thinking, “who is this my secret girl-friend in this unknown city?” But later concluded that probably it was a prank from my colleagues to find out my details and love life, in which they could not succeed.
(To be contd…)