The next ten days or so passed in a blur with Aman and Poo’s noses buried in the pending files. Rahul and Punit were able to join their duties only a couple of days later and by then Aman had accepted, albeit grudgingly, that Poo was an excellent co-worker with an eye for details. Aman had the vision and he specialized in macro-management while Poo’s strength was in micro-management and together they made an excellent team. And so when Rahul and Punit did join back, Aman re-shuffled their work areas wherein Poo would still be assisting him after the files had been processed, reviewed and submitted to him for further necessary action.
Aman was very impressed by Poo’s professional attitude and dedication towards work and almost overnight his prejudice and reservations towards her eased. Aman found himself relying more and more upon her professionally, especially in the absence or rather irregular presence of Rahul and Punit.
In fact, once his initial apprehensions were laid to rest, in a very short time, Aman got used to looking up and finding Poo’s soft brown puppy eyes fixed unblinkingly at him or head bent over her notepad as her hand flew over the sheet in an effort to keep pace with his rapid fire instructions.
And then one day, without any warning, there was a message from Poo ‘Sorry wont be able to come in today, will try in the second half’. He started at the message feeling terribly frustrated – Par hua kya hai? She knew that both Rahul and Punit were again off due to relapse of personal complications, so she wouldn’t do that unless it was an emergency would she? So was there some problem at RM, but then surely ASR would have said something, or was she unwell? Must be really serious for her not to come to office when she knew what the situation was like at the office. Worry and concern gripped him and he struggled to deal with the unfamiliar emotions that assaulted him. Aman tried to control his restlessness and concentrated on his work, waiting for the afternoon – surely she would come? Sab theek toh hoga na?
But the day wore on in agonizing slowness and woh toh intezaar hi karta reh gaya par woh nahi aayee… Aman was out of sorts and could find no solace even in his precious panacea – work. Unable to correctly diagnose his disease (sardi khansi na malaria hua…yeh toh loveria hua loveria hua), he attacked Poo the moment she entered office the next day (after ensuring she looked bright and fresh), “This is an office madam, not a garden or your favorite shopping mall, jab man kiya tab aaye ya gaye,” he sneered, “Where were you yesterday? Pata hai na kitna kaam hai and that it all has to be completed by the end of this week?”
Poo was taken aback, “Message toh kiya tha?”
“Oh toh message will do your work,” he snapped back instantly, “Isiliye isiliye,” he waved his finger in annoyance, “I didn’t like to involve you in office work, no sense of responsibility or work ethics,” he lashed out rather unfairly, “itna kya urgent VIP party tha that you couldn’t avoid going?”
Poo set her lips and blinked rapidly – Aman was even more furious, “Haan haan that’s right, start crying and go running to your precious Bhaiyya,” he spat out.
“Why would I go to ASR?” Poo retaliated strongly, “This is between you and me,” Aman’s heart did a funny sort of a flip at the images and connotations, “And, besides I am not crying,” Poo denied stoutly, “There is something in my eye,” she raised her hand and rubbed it hard, but it kept irritating her and on top of it Aman wasn’t done yet, “Haan ab topic change kar do,” he said contemptuously.
Poo threw up her hands in surrender and dug out her hanky and blew into it to use it as a warm compress, “What’s wrong with you?!” She glared at Aman through one eye, “I understand you are stressed out and overworked but at least give me a chance to explain? I had my last exam yesterday and in all this,” she waved her hands around, “preoccupation I had totally forgotten about it so had to stay up all night studying for it,” she rubbed her eye rather fiercely as it continued to irritate her, “I had full intentions of coming in the afternoon but after the exam I crashed out for a couple of hours and then Nani had fever, Chotti needed help in making a chart,” she trailed off continuing to rub her eye vigorously.
Ashamed (and surprised) at his over-reaction, Aman sighed and held her hand, “Achcha achcha ok I was out of line and I apologize, ok now let me look,” he peered into her affected eye, “There is a lash in your eye, wait,” he took her hanky and neatly drew it out, “There, see such a huge lash,” he showed it to her as she breathed easy, “Phew thanks!” she smiled at him.
Her first uninhibited warm smile to him and he was floored – he stared at her as if he had never seen her before –shoulder length hair cascaded in soft waves around her dusky face, which was dominated by a pair of bright fine eyes lit up by a thousand Watt smile – bas woh toh wahin par dher ho gaya.
“And I am sorry, I know it would have been very difficult for you, so much work and all of us on leave,” she looked at him apologetically, “It wont happen again.”
Aman blinked and recovered, he cleared his throat, “Nahi it’s ok, but next time let me know why, I don’t like to wor…wonder what happened,” he said curtly.
Poo grinned mischievously, “Yehi toh galati kari, no need to wonder, kuch bhi janna ho about my whereabouts toh straight away just call the Reuters Bureau.”
Aman frowned at her, trying to control his weirdly acting heart and bottom of his tummy, “Excuse me?”
Poo nodded her head vigorously, “Yep, just call Chotti! Usko sab khabar hota hai! Actually its all her fault! I was almost ready to come around 3.30- 4 o’clock but it was she who put her foot down and staked her claim on my time for my help in making a chart for school,” Poo shook her head, “Maine bola aap gussa karoge but she refused to believe me – ‘Anka ko gussa karna aata hi nahi’, Poo imitated Chotti’s high clear voice, “oh that reminds me,” and opened her purse.
Aman relaxed and smiled – Angel was right – he admitted to himself, mujhe toh gussa karna aata hi nahi, then what happened today? He wondered a bit worriedly – one look at her bright chirpy face and his temper had shot through the roof – kya ho gaya tha mujhe? He sneezed – ahh must be coming down with something he thought relieved, always makes me irritable and cranky. Even my tummy is acting funny.
“Here,” Poo had been fishing around in her bag, “She sent a card for you,” and handed it to him.
The card depicted a classroom where Aman was the teacher standing by the blackboard and Boo the lone student, there were several colorful balloons floating around the classroom each with a message – Boo makes charts for me; Boo tells me stories; Boo plays games with me; Boo is the best ever Boo.
And on the blackboard ‘I am Anka, the best ever Anka, I never get angry and I promise I will not scold Boo’
Aman laughed and Poo joined him, “Oh but you missed the best part, see over the door is a tiny fairy princess carrying a magic wand,” Poo leaned in to show Aman, she smiled up at him, “That’s Chotti waving her wand and making everything alright for me because I told her that you will be angry with me for not coming to office yesterday!”
Aman put the card on his table and nodded, “You should have handed me the card immediately then I wouldn’t have,” he shrugged, “Chotti ke orders ko kaun taal sakta hai,” he said affectionately he looked regretfully at Poo, “I am sorry, actually pata nahi kya hua tha mujhe I normally don’t react like this,” he put a hand up and massaged his neck.
Click here for Chapter 359