Joined: 09 October 2008
This isn't precisely a one-shot. This was my entry for the short story contest. It is a pretty pathetic effort which I had cooked up in two hours. Not surprisingly, it wasn't short listed and the ones that have been chosen are simply outstanding. I asked neetz if I could post my silly entry here and she sweetly agreed.
Some transitory events, some eternal moments
Arun looked up into the grey skies. It was going to rain hard soon, and he had to reach the cafe within a few minutes or he would be caught in the downpour.
He made it in time, although a few drops of cold rain did hit his head before he stepped into the security of the caf. He looked around and spotted her, sitting alone at a table, a cup of steaming coffee in front of her. She was absentmindedly doodling on a tissue, the fashionably cut hair caressing her shoulders. Her usually bright and cheerful eyes were lost in thought. She was dressed very casually, and there was hardly any makeup on her beautiful face.
With a quickening heartbeat, he made his way towards her. It was raining heavily now, the pounding sheets of rain infusing a certain uncanny sense of foreboding in the city. He could see it in the faces of all other people in the caf as they gazed out the windows. But one man who was sitting at a table near her seemed to be absorbed in a novel.
As he reached the table, the girl looked up and smiled.
The instant Arun sat down opposite her, the man who had been engrossed in the book shifted a little and then stilled.
"Hi. How are you doing, Arun?" Ananya asked, after he had settled down and gestured to the waitress to get a coffee.
"Great. What about you?"
"I'm doing fine. Why did you ask me to meet you suddenly?" she asked, unaware of the eavesdropper at the next table. The man had been given very specific instructions. He had to listen carefully to the conversation, and then report every small detail to the person who had hired him.
"I just wanted to tell you ? I'm going to join my friend's company as a partner," Arun said eagerly. "It's doing alright right now but I know we will be very successful in some years. And then maybe we ? you and me - could -" his voice faltered as her expression changed from curiosity to bewilderment.
"Arun, please. I've told you once before that nothing could happen between us. I just don't see you ? Can't we just remain friends," She asked, looking equally embarrassed and sympathetic. He wasn't even a friend, just an acquaintance and a very distant one at that. She had barely met him a couple of times at some parties, and had been uncomfortable with him from the very beginning. He had proposed to her the second time they had met. She had been kind but firm in refusing him, and she had thought he had understood that she had meant it. But here he was again. She should never have agreed to meet him. Anyway, this was going to be the last time she ever met him, that was for sure.
Arun didn't say anything, but looked absolutely unhappy.
"So you are joining a new firm?" she said after a moment, trying to change the atmosphere. "That's really great. Which company is it? Which field? "
Arun looked at her nervously. "Ultima Security. It's in the same field as my present company. I've managed to get all the confiden ? I ? I mean, get all the training required."
"So you'll be in direct competition with your present employer?" she asked quizzically.
He nodded tensely, not meeting her eyes. "Yes,"
Ananya looked at him suspiciously, feeling uneasy about the suddenly furtive look on his weak face, and she abruptly felt the urge to get as far away from him as possible, feeling strangely revolted. She had sensed at their first meeting itself that there was something not quite right about Arun, like the line between right and wrong did not really exist for him.
"I need to leave now, Arun. Have to meet up with some other friends," she lied, getting up with her umbrella.
He nodded again silently, and she quickly made her way out of the caf, finding the torrential rain more welcome than the company she had left behind.
The man at the adjoining table slowly closed the book and allowed himself to smile a little. His client would not be unhappy with what he had found out.
In other part of the city, the owner of a multinational corporation smirked to himself as he kept the phone down. He had finally got what he wanted. His man had done a good job. But a second later, the smirk on Veer's face transformed into a frown of anger.
So Arun had been betraying him....
The management knew the company's secrets were being leaked out for some time but it had taken time to pin down the source. And now they knew. Arun Mehra, a top-level employee they had hired a few months ago, was the traitor. Veer had disliked him at first sight and had only hired him on his father's insistence. His father had known Arun's father in college and he had wanted to do something for his deceased friend's only son.
He had had his suspicions about Arun for some time, but now he had proof. The IT specialist he had hired had traced the transfer of several documents containing sensitive information from his account. Arun had devised a complicated setup to send the documents so that it had been very difficult to trace the movement of the files, but they had finally managed to get a breakthrough.
His cell rang again as he brooded over the way in which he was going to deal with Arun and he looked at the number. It was the number of the man he had hired to follow Arun. The detective had found out that Arun had planned to meet someone today in a cafe and he had been told to listen to every bit of the conversation and report back.
"I'm calling from outside the caf. Mr. Mehra met a girl here," the detective said, and the relayed the whole conversation he had heard.
So he was joining Ultima, Veer brooded, the company to which he had been passing on all their information to. This was the final evidence needed to seal his fate.
"Then the girl, Ananya ? that's what he called her - left 10 minutes ago, and he also left after a few minutes."
Veer stiffened and sat up in his chair. "Did you say Ananya? Could you describe her?"
"She was around 5 feet 3 inches, fair and slim, dark brown hair, big brown eyes."
Veer hung up the call and leaned back in his chair in a thoughtful mood.
In yet another part of the city, the doorbell rang in an apartment. A fashionably dressed lady opened the door to see a man standing outside, drenched to the skin.
"I have the info," he said.
"You found out who is it? Ananya, come in here quickly."
Ananya entered the drawing room to see her aunt looking very excited and the detective they had hired standing in the middle of the room, dripping water.
"He has found out the identity of the man who has been sending you flowers," her aunt tittered.
"You have? Who is it?" she frowned.
Ananya had moved in with her aunt some weeks ago after completing her graduation. It was supposed to be a short break before she returned to her parent's home in another state and joined her father and brother in their business.
Every day since she had moved in, she had been receiving flowers - huge bouquets of gorgeous red roses. On her birthday, she had gone out with her aunt to celebrate and when she had returned the corridor outside had choked with bouquets of all shapes and sizes. And her patronizing neighbour - Veer Agarwal - had politely asked if she could move them somewhere so he could walk to his door without tripping over the bouquets. It was not the first time he had poked fun at the floral gifts. She had been hearing his teasing remarks about the flowers for weeks.
"Your neighbour, Veer Agarwal. He's the one who's been sending the flowers," the man answered.
"Veer!" her aunt exclaimed excitedly, as Ananya gaped at the man in shock.
Veer. Tall, fair and devastatingly handsome. She knew he headed a huge company, but he was always civil and courteous with all the residents of the building and even with the maintenance staff.
His teasing about the flowers had stung. Because she didn't want him to think she had any admirer in the side wings. Because she was totally in love with him.
But apart from the jokes about the flowers, he treated her with the same detached courtesy as everyone else. And as the days went past without him ever showing any interest in her, she had heartbrokenly accepted that he probably had a very attractive and rich girlfriend, or perhaps, girlfriends.
She had seen him the first day she had moved in, and her heart had skipped a beat as he passed by her on his way out, their eyes meeting for a second. But she had truly fallen for him two weeks ago. She had been entering the building's lobby, and had seen him deep in conversation with a very old and frail woman, her female helper standing nearby. She had remained standing there for some reason, and from the bits of conversation she could catch, she realized that the aged woman had a fear of elevators and didn't want to get in. Amazed, she had watched with captivated eyes as Veer gently lifted the old woman into his arms and began climbing the stairs, apparently paying her compliments, as the helper walked behind them. And Ananya had amusedly seen the elderly female blushing and giggling like a young girl.
All those days she had spent in the misery of loving without being loved in return?..and he had been playing this stupid game, she thought angrily.
"We've located the source of the leaks," Veer announced in the conference room. He had spoken with his father, who had given him the permission to take necessary action against Arun.
"The IT specialist and the detective we hired have collected more than enough evidence against the culprit," Veer stood up and walked over to Arun's chair, noticing that he was suddenly sweating profusely. He went on to specify the details provided by both the men about the traitor in their midst.
"So who is it?" a senior director asked.
Arun sprang to his feet, but Veer blocked his way.
As the others in the room exchanged shocked glances, Veer quietly said, "Don't make a scene. The security personnel have been warned already."
"Is this how you repay the company??" another director snapped at Arun. "After Veer did you such a big favour?.by giving you this kind of a responsible and high profile job. Call the police right away, Veer. Even your father wouldn't tolerate it if he knew this."
Arun's face turned ugly with anger, but he was too scared to retaliate in the face of the 12 angry men in the room. And so he remained silent as the other members also sneered and spat out degrading statements.
"I'm not taking any action against you for this treachery, just for my father," Veer said, even as the other members voiced protests. "Now get out of this room and this company. And if I hear that you've made use of any technology that you've stolen from us in your new company, you'll pay for it tenfold."
Arun stood up and left the room, seething with humiliation and fury. He would get back at Veer for this. He would destroy him and the company. He would ruin everyone and everything that had been part of his disgrace.
He got into his car and raced off dangerously on the slippery streets. Blinded with anger and hate, he cut through two traffic lights. Before long, a cop's car was on his tail. In sudden panic, Arun speeded up, and raced through another red light. But this time, before he could pass to the next lane, a truck rammed into the side of the car. The car veered off the road and then overturned. A second later, it burst into flames.
Ananya rang the bell and waited, her heart pounding in a bizarre mix of anger and hope.
Veer opened the door and smiled at her charmingly. The room behind him was not illuminated very well. 'Hi Ananya, you've come at the right time. I was about to ask you to come over. I need your opinion on something.
"That's a real coincidence, she said fiercely, striding into the room. "Because I came here to give you an opinion myself. What do -" she stopped, taken aback at the sight of the room.
The whole place was lit by candles, roses adorned every corner of the room, and the dinner table was decorated beautifully for a romantic dinner for two. Soft music was playing in the background.
Feeling her heart plummeting to her stomach, she turned to him and asked, "Are you expecting anyone?" Had the detective been wrong about him sending the flowers???.
"Yes. That's why I wanted your opinion. What do you think of this background? Is it the kind in which I can ask a girl to marry me, and be sure she won't say no?"
"No girl would refuse if you asked her. I meant, if you asked her in such a beautiful setting," she amended quickly, misery pressing down on her. So he had not been sending the roses, after all?.
"Let's try that out then," he gave a heart-stopping smile and took out a velvet box out of his pocket.
As Ananya watched in astonishment, he went down on a knee, opening the box simultaneously. Inside a stunning solitaire sat cozily, glittering like fire.
"Will you marry me, Ananya?"
Struck dumb, she stared at him for a moment, and then nodded wordlessly. Looking extraordinarily pleased and happy, he lifted her hand and slipped the ring onto her finger.
"So it really was you who has been sending the flowers," she asked faintly, as he rose to his feet.
"I see that poor fellow you hired finally did his job," Veer smiled, raising her hand and lightly kissing the middle of her warm palm.
"You knew about that?" she asked, embarrassed.
"If he hadn't told you by today, I was planning to call him up myself and let him know my identity," he murmured, his gaze tenderly locked with her lovely eyes which were sparkling with tears of joy, and he moved closer??
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