I see her laughing gregariously, I am immediately drawn towards her. She stops laughing and sips her tea from the black mug that reads KAZO. I see her colleagues leaving, and she is now staring at her Desktop.
It’s almost 7 in the evening and I wrap up my things to go back home. I find her sitting and working. Everyone in her bay has already left.
There has been changes in the seating arrangements on our floor and the right side of our sitting area has been allocated to a new project with a freshly formed team. Project is highly anticipated and needed a quick delivery within 8 months time. I was amazed to our firm’s commitment to ship this project in such short duration.
Hi, I am the regular analyst guy here at Clifford Analytics and my name is Rihan Dubey. The girl that I mentioned is Shrutkirti. She is the UI/UX designer and I see her around the conference rooms, near the coffee machine and sometimes while waiting for the lift. We don’t have much interaction, other than a common project group on Slack, or in mail chain where I share the UI templates with her and to 50 other people working in this project.
I have started seeing more of her due to the new project Capage with our new client Sans International, they are a logistics company, dealing in shipment cargos via industry. We will be working on designing, developing and providing support for their application for tracking shipment, supply chain, procurement and other details that I am not going to bore you with but yeah I am an Analyst so you must probably deal with me going into the gory details of everything.
I love to talk to people, people are good, and I can be quite detail oriented. I can read people through the way they talk, or probably I like to think that I am making a connection with them. Well why do you think I grabbed this Performer of the year award here? It’s because I have been successfully delivering the client requirements to the team and vice versa, I am a pro and I also sound like I am talking too much. Well I warned you before!
Project kickoff meeting went well and it’s almost a week later Shrutkirti caught my eye. It was her laugh, her carefree laugh. I haven’t seen someone laugh full of heart. She is wearing a white salwar suit, her hair are tied into this messy ponytail, fringes around her face. She is wearing two layered oxidized antique jewelry in her ear and has black rimmed glasses on. Her nose is pierced where she is wearing a round oxidized nose ring. She stares at her screen as I leave.
I never really got a good look of her face, so I search for her on the social media. To my surprise, she is a ghost! Who on this earth isn’t on social media, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Instagram. What is wrong with this girl?
I try searching different combinations of her name, surname, date of birth, contact number I just extracted from the firm’s directory. Shrutkirti Narayan. I give up and decide to see her in office itself.
I board the metro, grab the breakfast, my morning coffee, plug into my airpods and rush towards the office. My shirt is crisp, my hair is set and as soon as I step foot aside to punch in my ID card. I look at you. You are going upstairs since the lift waiting is too crowded. It’s the 3rd floor and I can’t decide to use the stairway or to go along with you. I stick to the lift.
I come to my seat and find you sitting firing up your Desktop, with all the design pages smothered at your desk and little colorful sticky notes beautifully placed behind the Desktop on a blue pin board. Your mouse is moving and the giant Apple Desktop fires up. I can’t see your face, you are wearing a teal colored kurta with jeans today, your open hair and you wear your glasses.
I observe you, your timings, your reactions, your hairstyles, your clothes, your group, your coffee and lunch breaks, the way you work. You look like a no makeup person, a simple girl with no expectations and I can’t tell much but you are a corporate robotic zombie least interested in the HR bonding activities or the team building challenges as well. I wonder who drained the life out of you. You always smile, laugh, and put a fake cover on that makes me wonder something is terribly wrong with you. You seem upset and you so beautifully hide it. It has been a conclusion of 41 days of me observing you minutely, your every move and turn from a distance socially ineffable to do so.
2 MONTHS LATER
We have our first phase of rollout for the client and meeting is scheduled with everyone in the team at 4pm in training room magenta. All the conference rooms and training rooms are labelled by vivid color names. I go through the invite list and find your name on it. First chance to finally see you may be a little close.
I wait for the clock to strike 4 and I pick up my MacBook to attend the rollout meeting, following you with your work journal towards magenta. You grab a chair and I choose the one exactly opposite you. I know I sound like a creepy person right now, but I had to see you, a ghost with no social life literally.
People start filling in and I look at your face. Your lifeless eyes giving nothing away, you smile in pleased disposition. You are gruesome worried and your freckles hiding all the worry underneath. I get a good look at your face, seeing the faded miniscule scars of physical injury over your head, neck and some over the corner of your mouth. I look at your hands. They are beautiful but have rough texture, your nails are chipped and you look like a household chores’ person. I see your wrist watch and look at the presentation.
4 MORE MONTHS PASSBY
I see you in the office hours before I am even here and you stay up late, even after I leave. You have been working a lot, or you just don’t want to face whatever you are going through. I have been hearing your smile, and looking at your laughs and have fallen for you may be a little. I fear talking to you, and try to maintain my social demeanor to be professional.
I talk to some people I know whom you interact with to find out what’s really going on with you. Looks like you are a private person too.
I wait for a couple more days and I can’t shake off this feeling of coming and talk to you, so I decide to talk to you. I come over to your desk, you look up at me. I greet you raising my eyebrows, you shake hands with me and those beautiful sore hands need some loving care. You ask me about the latest changes suggested by the client that I mailed to you. I respond being neutral about them and I ask you if there is any template that can be done better than the client suggested.
You smile lovingly, but it looks forged, I read your face beneath your falsified excitement and though you have great suggestions, you tell them with no expectations of them getting accomplished. I discuss them with you and they are some wonderful ones, so I make a sheet and immediately schedule a call over with the client to get the ideas implemented.
Client loves me, he is super excited to see Shrutkirti’s ideas, so I go back to her giving this news and for the first time in days I see your spirit rising a little. I ask her for a short tea break, and she politely denies saying she has a lot to do but sure afterwards.
I return to my desk and drop a mail praising her ideas and client’s approval for the process CCing her and 50 other useless people. I wonder due credit be given to the person who deserves it.
Next day, We have our first major release meeting, and we gather in the room Aqua. I am in the meeting and you are late, so you have only one seat remaining that is beside me. You greet me and I nod.
A week later
HR is giving away rewards and recognition to performers of the quarter. We are all gathering in the green area where the stage is set. I walk past you and you as usual are not moving for the drama. I come towards you and ask you to come along. You look at me surprised and you don’t drive me away as usual. You lock your machine and you walk with me.
We are all standing in the green area, waiting for the winners to be awarded and you feel uncomfortable standing there, it’s not me, it is the crowd. Crowd makes you nervous, you fidget your fingers with your watch and HR begins the show and after the small talk, you are regretting coming with me. I look at you and I ask you,
“Expecting the reward this quarter?”
She looks at me and respond “Maybe”
HR is blabbering about some new awards being introduced this quarter, and we listen, there are multiple categories. I joke a little about how the names are too fuzzy and I wonder who they are going to give them to. You agree and speak
“They give awards to those, who they want to work more!”
Your voice is sad and has a tinge of a little excitement may be a little to be given a reward tonight. I sigh in relief, there is a little life in you.
“You will have to treat me with tea every day for a week, if you win anything tonight” I ask her casually.
“Sure” she says “As if I am getting anything.” the excitement still visible, she is secretly hoping to get a reward, I notice her innocence and sadness. Her words and expression of emotions do not match!
HR announces. Innovative thinkers making a difference names being announced – Priti Rizwan, Sanjhal Jain, Shrutkirti Narayan ….. I look at her, and she looks at me, her lifeless eyes lit up for a moment as she makes her way towards the stage to receive her commemoration award. She gets clicked and makes her way towards me, laughing carefree, all smiles. I look at her and I like her this way.
We have our first tea date that evening. She is generous enough to talk to me and thanks me for the appreciation on the template ideas. I modestly deny saying, it’s her work.
As we go back, I see her getting a phone call, and she leaves me in the middle of the way back to our desk. I hold her certificate and voucher, which I keep inside her work journal at her desk. As I open her journal to place the voucher I see a checklist dated a couple of days back.
- Collect Divorce papers from Court…
I cannot read any further and I place the voucher there and her smothered design samples falls down. I arrange them back up only to find out the printed divorce petition which reads Shrutkirti and Aviral. I turn the page with some proof of their marriage, marriage certificate registration sheet, copy of their wedding card dated 3 years back.
Everything makes sense. I am a little heartbroken seeing her going through this tough time. All the months of plight might have been a tough ride. I feel empathy. I leave my desk and go back home, wondering what must have ruined everything.
I reach the office next day, and its almost time for the project rollout, we have a mega meeting today. We all join, she is there too. We are in the conference room Lavender. She greets me gracefully and it doesn’t look plastered. I am happy, I could bring some change to otherwise dull face underneath all the shallow smile and laughs. I nod at her.
We are all set for the one-week Production ready timeline and the seats would be shuffled again, based on the project. So it’s one more week of me gazing at you.
I am working on my mails later in the evening, when you come to ask me for the tea break. I politely deny having work and your spirit lessens a little. I feel sad for blowing you off.
This last week is crucial and everyone gears up for the application to go live. I see you working more efficiently ever since you were acknowledged for the ideas you shared. I wonder if I could ever ask you out, for the date or for a casual dinner, to hear all about your heart filled feeling of hopelessness and despair and why would a person like you be ever left? I don’t have the courage.
I have fallen in love with you and this messed up thing had made me wonder how could I make your days better with no clue.
The Big Day.
The production application happens after successful deployment and multiple rounds of testing we have a handover to Sans International of the project Capage in the 8th month within the timeline. A mail acknowledging the same and appreciating every member hit my INBOX along with the invite to the project completion party next week.
I come to office the next day to see all the capage team boards being removed and team being dispersed and allocated to new projects. Shrutkirti’s Desk is cleaned up along with her belongings. I feel sad and bitter.
I walk the entire floor, to find out which project has she been allocated to, only to find out nothing. I want to text her on Slack, but I refrain. I miss her, I miss watching her. I engage myself in work and a week passes by I don’t see her all day. Its hard, I am feeling a deep void and I can’t do anything about it.
I am working late today, most of my week thinking about you. I get notifications on the slack for the party about to start at the pub booked for party in 10 minutes, people have already started posting pictures on slack and today I don’t feel like going.
I hear footsteps coming towards me, I look behind and I find you. You are at your desk looking for something and removing the board pins from the board. I look at you and you wave at me. I get up and I come towards you. My heart skipped a beat and in this last one week, this little glimpse of you was all I needed.
“Lost something?” I ask looking at her pretty face.
“Yeah, I just needed to check if I have. “ You say putting away those pins in your bag.
“You have your tea party pending” I speak looking at you.
Your eyes lit up and I look at you so closely for the first time since I ever laid my eyes on you.
“Party, isn’t there a party tonight?” You ask me in the same old way, knowing, wanting to go but not going since there is no company, hoping I would go with you but acting all nonchalant.
“Yeah, shall we go?” I look at you and you are immensely happy. I wrap up my things, with your eyes not leaving my sight, and we leave the office together. I see your happy face, I wish it to be happy and around me always.