It was Friday and the office clock struck 5 in the evening.
We planned to go out in the weekend. Myself, Karan, Atul, Michael, Christine and my wife-Niharika discussed places best suited for weekend so that we could join office on Monday.
The office was not very large with about 100 employees in Gurgaon. It was a new company set up 2 years back and was expanding. The management had plans to make it a thousand employees company in the future.
I had met Niharika in this office. I remembered she was wearing green suit with red and yellow design giving her a tall and slim look. She had come for the interview and asked me for cafeteria. I introduced myself and we chatted for about 10 minutes. I really liked her way of talking and she liked my sense of humour. That’s what I understood at that time.
When she joined the company after about a month, we again met in the cafeteria and started chatting like we were old friends. She told me that she lived in Pitampura in Delhi.
She asked, “Akshay-where do you stay?” I replied, “Rohini”.
She was glad because Pitampura and Rohini were adjacent to one another in North West Delhi.
We could both sense that we could meet easily.
We usually go to cafeteria or go out for walk whenever we got time. Eventually we decided to tie knots.
Six months later we got married.
I didn’t like much the idea of going out with colleagues during weekends but Niharika liked this and with passage of time I developed this taste.
We both had gone out couple of times with colleagues. It was a plus point for me as I interacted with both co-workers and my wife thus getting to know each other better. My wife would not complain that I was not giving her time and my co-workers would not say that I didn’t go with them.
After marriage I had gone with my co-workers without Niharika only once. She told me that she respected my space and that I should devote time with male friends also which are very much required.
I had also gone with Niharika on several weekends and many times on weekdays taking leave from office on the pretext of one thing or another thing.
We had been together now for almost 18 months.
But I had been noticing for some time that she was not happy and fight with me on one or another thing. I asked her the reason but she didn’t disclose.
But later on she told me that she wanted me not to go out with colleagues and only remain with her on weekends.
I told her that I was in a senior position now and it was important to keep team happy. But she didn’t understand.
Anyways today we had to decide our destination for weekend but I could see that Niharika was not taking much interest. I looked at her and said, “Jaanu tell us where we should go.”
Everyone in the office knew that we used such words during leisure time or whenever we planned our weekend.
Niharika suggested for Jim Corbett Park. We discussed that it required more than 2 days but later on everyone agreed. We planned to leave early tomorrow morning at 4 to avoid traffic.
It was difficult to get up early and get ready by 4 in the morning but to gain something we have to sacrifice something. We had to sacrifice our good sleep to enjoy weekend.
We all took cab and reached Anand Vihar from where we had to board bus for Jim Corbett. The bus started and we all began to sing songs and crack jokes. There was no sleep in our eyes.
We stopped after about 2 hours for getting fresh and having breakfast. After about 30 minutes the bus started again. I was feeling like sleeping right now. I looked at Karan and Christine and they were yawning.
In about 10 minutes I was sleeping.
After about an hour the bus suddenly stopped. I saw outside but there was no restaurant in case anyone requested driver to stop the bus for refreshment.
I could see Atul going towards washroom followed by Michael.
I felt thirsty and looked for my water bottle but it was empty. I didn’t want to get out of the bus. Niharika’s bottle was also empty. I had no choice. I went outside to get my bottle refilled. But here also there was competition with about 10 people trying to reach the only tap available in this remote place.
It had been 5 minutes standing in the queue. I saw both Atul and Michael coming out of washroom and moving towards the bus.
My wife called me from the bus and asked me to come soon.
Still there were about 5 people waiting for the water. I heard horn of the bus and my heart sank. What if the bus moved and left me here.
I didn’t want to go with empty bottle especially after waiting for so long. I was not sure when the bus will stop and I will get water. I was in the habit of drinking lots of water and could not remain for long without water.
Now only 2 people were standing in front of me I being the third one.
Sound of the engine shrieked into my ears and I didn’t want to think that the bus had left.
I turned back and I was shocked. The bus was not there. Wild thoughts came to my mind. How will I go back? It would not be easy to go back in the absence of public transport and farm land everywhere.
I realized that I should not have gone after water which could be sacrificed for some time. I should have listened to others in the bus.
I started walking with fast pace towards the road to see if the bus had stopped some distance away. I could see very small part of iron rods at the back of the bus. I started running in the hope that it would be the same bus. I kept on running and my shirt and vest were wet with sweat and I was about to faint. I ran faster but the back of bus started diminishing. I ran for some more time but I lost the view of the bus. My legs were shaking and my whole body was wet with sweat. I took bottle to my mouth but the bottle was empty.
I fainted after some time.
Suddenly someone shook me and I got up immediately. I saw Niharika sitting next to me and wiping my face with towel.
I saw my co-workers who were sleeping.
I asked her what had happened. She replied, “You were trembling on your seat and your sweat was dripping from your face. You must have seen some nightmare.”
I could not understand for some time. I saw my face that had made towel wet. I could not understand anything.
I relaxed on my seat and started thinking what had happened. I didn’t remember anything.
It must be my dream.
But I learnt that never go out of the way if time is the key factor and others are eagerly waiting for you.