I am waiting for the auto-rickshaw outside my office building, but no one gives me a ride. It’s drizzling and I am getting late. I look at the watch and I have to be there in the new office building by 6pm, it’s already 5:30. I look at another helpless lady, waving at the auto-rickshaws and talking to the drivers to drop her somewhere. They are rejecting her pleas. I just missed the last interoffice cab by 2 minutes.
I look at my phone battery about to die in the next few minutes, I quickly book an UBER ride, no one accepts and as usual, it keeps waiting. I finally manage to book an auto 15 minutes away and I note the number 1401. I am waiting for the ride and I am restlessly looking at my watch.
The lady is holding a cream umbrella and wearing yellow clothes holding a bag and a few books. She looks polished probably in her mid-thirties. She is unable to find herself a ride and I feel pity for her. I wonder where she wants to go, I look at the small auto-icon moving slowly on the UBER ride. My watch is about the strike quarter to 6.
After 15 more minutes, my ride finally arrives and I get inside the auto. I look at her from the rearview mirror from the auto and I look at my watch, time passing away in seconds, 10 minutes to my meeting. I can’t decide, whether to stop the auto or rush to the meeting. I won’t be able to reach on time if I do.
I ask the auto rider to stop and request him to take a little back. I wave at the lady and ask her “Hey Where do you want to go? Let me drop you. Please sit.” She looks at the rain pouring a bit fast and closes the umbrella and asks me to drop her at the library. I smile at her and I ask her the route to the library. She asks me where am I going? I tell her the building address and she asks me to drop her midway so that she can make way on her own.
I insist to drop her first and then make my way to the office building. I ask the driver to cooperate to which he does, the lady navigates the way to the library and my office building falls halfway. I ask her to continue the ride and the payment is online. I get off the ride and I leave for my meeting.
The driver drops her and my phone is out of battery, it starts raining very heavily. It’s almost 6:18. I must be late for the meeting. Everyone must be waiting. I am quite late, I join and the meeting continues. After a weary hour-long meeting. I finally put my phone to charge before leaving the office. I am as usual working and I switch on the phone.
As soon as it restarts, it is abuzz with notifications. I check my phone and there is a request to pay from the UBER app, I make the payment and I see 7 missed calls from an unknown number. I look at the phone through my glasses. Who is it? I check my text message and there is a message from someone.
“Please call when you get this.” I immediately call the number and a male voice picks up.
“Hi, Who is it?” I say loosening my tie.
“Whom have you called?” The stern male voice speaks up.
“I got a message to call back on this number. Have a few calls” I say trying to sound defiant.
“Sorry Wrong Number” The male voice disconnects the phone.
How weird? I ignore the calls and messages. I work a few more minutes and I am about to leave. As soon as I exit, and as usual, my hand goes to fetch my id card over to my pocket. I can’t find it there, where did it go. I look for it in my shirt’s pocket, my office bag, I go up to my temporary desk, to the meeting room, to the restroom I can’t find it.
After having searched everywhere, I think I might have lost it. I walk my way back home, and I search for the auto rider’s phone number, I must not have left it in the auto ride. I call and it goes straight to UBER. I disconnect and wonder, will have to request a new one, with an FIR, penalty, and the bullshit policies. Oh crap! What a bad day.
I am peacefully sleeping in my bed. My phone rings. I look at my cellphone and it’s 7 in the morning, who is calling.
I pick up the phone barely awake and a sweet voice greets me. “Hey, Anugrah!” I am eyes open wide now“Who is it?” I am trying to recall the voice, I look at the number, I sit up in my bed.
“I have your ID card here in the library with a message to call you, can you collect it from here.” I am confused for a moment. I can’t understand, when did my office start having a library. “Hello! are you there?” the sweet voice is calling and I respond, rubbing my eyes, putting my hand in my hair “Yeah, yeah which floor is it?”
“It’s the second floor.” she says. “Oh near the IT department” I say, opening my eyes.
There is silence and the phone disconnects. I rush to the office and I am not allowed entry into the building I call back on the number and the same male voice picks up. “Hello” I am confused.
I look at the number and it is the number from last night and this morning. I think and I recall the lady holding books going to the library. I understand all the situation and I say “Do you have Anugrah Jaiswal’s ID card with you, I left it there, ” The male voice responds “Who?”
“Yes, you work in Collective INc,”
“Yes I do.”
“Please come and collect it,”
“Where is the library can you help me with the location”
“Its the Noida public library in Sector 15.”
The phone disconnects and I book a ride to the library, trying to recall the face of the lady I dropped yesterday.
I walk inside the library. I walk up the stairs and I reach the second floor as guided by the sweet voice over the phone, was it the same lady, or was it someone else. I find the book racks and people studying. I try to find the librarian, I find a man in his forties something reading a book and I walk up to him.
“Hello sir, I am here for my ID card” He looks at me, my office bag and he opens his chest drawer and hands me the ID card. God grace the lady.
“Thank you sir.” I turn and walk and I see a girl reading a book, with her glasses on and I try to find the voice I talked to this morning.
I turn around and I see tables chairs, wooden almirahs, a stash of books, stamps and I am looking at all the things towards my right and I collide with the sweet voice of morning. The books fall to the ground with a thud and everyone looks at the little accident. I drop down and I pick the books, and I see you.
“I am sorry about this, I didnt see you” I say embarrassed
“It’s okay, did you get your ID card” the same voice.
“How do you know?” I ask quizzically
“You don’t belong here.” She says.
“Oh I love to read.” I say trying to make an impression
“Oh really” she raises her eyebrows.
“Then read this one” she hands me a beautiful poetry book, the beautiful words, with the feather on the black cover.
“Get it issued or you can read it here if you find time” she says and I look at her.
“Alright. I say,” she smiles and I get the book issued walking behind her. She makes me a member of the library stamps the book and pay the membership fee.
“Anugrah Jaiswal” I introduce myself.
“Sunaina” she says sweetly.
TO BE CONTINUED