Drinking too much has its after effects. The eyes betray what chewing gum and a long bath try to hide. Hari however didnt have the long bath or the chewing gum. He was walking around in auto pilot mode. His lips were speaking, his hands and feet were doing their jobs in perfect synchronicity. In all appearance, he appeared normal. The only thing missing in the whole picture was his incisive mind and the undertone of sarcasm that was his signature. Vijay was the first one to notice it.
“Who is Vijay ?”, you ask. No ? “Who is Hari ?”. Ah ! Forgive my manners. Lets roll the camera back to the beginning. Harikrishnan Nair, aka, Hari is your typical run of the mill Mallu who roams the vast concrete jungles named Bangalore. Oops, Bengalooru. He is 5′ 11″ (an inch short of the 6 feet that he believed was his birthright), fair (thanks to a bloodline that should be purple for all the royals that adorn the walls in his ancestral home in Kerala) and one of those few gifted designers in India (his websites are among some of the most shared on Facebook under varying adjectives like cool, awesome, etc..His brilliance made him pretty famous among the more talented of the designers around the city. He was also known as a stickler for quality and time. He wouldnt be rushed into anything and he would always deliver on time. Designing was a passion for him, which was fine except that when the client is a nincompoop who has no sense of color or aesthetics, he went ballistic. That is where Vijay comes in. Vijay was the guy who kept the company from going bust. The guy who kept he genius of Hari’s designs under constant control. He had learned enough through DIY books to make the minor changes which made their brilliant creations, more acceptable, more corporate, more boring (according to Hari).
Friends from a tender age, it is rarely that two minds gel so well. They were the perfect partners, Vijay the face for all the terrors Hari could dream up and boy could he dream them up. Both mothers were blamed equally and took all of it with a smile. A smile that knew they were destined for greatness. The growing up years saw them develop distinct personalities. Each a compliment to the other. Where Hari was impetous, Vijay was restrained. Where Hari was a perfectionist, Vijay liked to compromise. Teachers always wondered how long it would last, this friendship that was stuff of legend, not something real life could sustain.
While Hari excelled in Math , Vijay tagged along through the humanities stream in the same college. Brothers from different mothers, they were just too used to each other, that the absence of the other was a thought that never occurred. The move to Bangalore was also together, Hari got that first job as a newbie designer, while Vijay had joined an NGO. The social streak in him made him seem gullible but he had a knack for closing deals that was seldom predictable.
Now 5 Years later, they had quit their 9 to 5 jobs and joined together with seed money from the mothers and had set up shop. Vijays network got them loads of requests, Hari’s wizardry on the computer made them the duo that everyone wanted. They could deliver the perfect blend that you wanted. Add to the medley, random designers and coders that Hari found from everywhere, they finally were growing. Both in numbers and in revenue. This was going to be a good year. Last nights bash had been the celebration of 150 websites signed, sealed and delivered. Monumental yes, memorable yes. But Hari was distracted.
“Whats wrong ?” Vijay confronted Hari, “What scheme are you dreaming up now ?”
“Nothings wrong. All is well. We just hit 150, the team has come together,” said Hari as he closed the door to the apartment,” and… and I think I am in love.”
“Ah ! There it is. Again.” Vijay said. Lets go back into the black and white flash back mode here. Hari as you have seen by now was a man driven by passions. Matters of the heart were a constant ailment for him. He had had numerous encounters with the female kind, each time declaring that this one is different. Vijay had stood by his side through them all. Watched him float on clouds in the beginning, then slowly get see him fall into a spiral of complaints (mostly regarding his freedom, to go wherever he wanted, to drink, to smoke and to not be dragged around town on trips that seemed to be absolutely pointless) ending finally in a couple of weeks of drunken nights, crying and laughing, shouting and silent, till the storm abated.
He never let his work fall during any of these many encounters and Vijay felt relief. This was another of those poor women who had been attracted to the magnetic energy of a man who was absolutely confident of himself. The guy who seemed lost without a care, the kind that every girl wanted to take into her arms and shelter. It will pass, Vijay thought and let it go.
Vijay had fallen in love once, still was in fact, with a girl who somehow decided to love him back. Tina was HR team lead for one of the companies Vijay had pitched for in his NGO days. He had stuttered through the entire meeting and was completely surprised to receive her call 3 days later.
“When are you going to ask me out ?”, she had asked,” Its not good to keep a girl waiting.”
That statement gave him courage. A courage that he had never felt before. ” When should I pick you up tonight ?” he countered.
“Tonight ? Isnt that a little too ambitious of you ?”
“I think we have both waited long enough for this moment. Lets make it Lunch. Right Now.”
“Nooooo.” She said, wondering how he seemed to know what she wanted and cut the phone. He walked into the office 45 minutes later with a bouquet of roses and a smile that was irresistible. Both off them didnt return to work that day.
I digress. Sorry. Back to Hari. He was going mad , he decided. This girl was different, he knew somehow. He was trying to figure out how to find her in this city of teeming millions. Creating plans and scratching them out almost immediately. There had to be a way. “Wonder if she even noticed me ?”, he thought.
She had. But Maya had a bigger problem right now.
Chapter 1 here
PS: Bring out the Red ink, Usha and Sashu. Dont have any others I can call regulars who will be ready as soon as you two.