It should have been love:
After the first day, Dhir and I became brief smoke buddies during our classroom training. On our smoke breaks, we spoke about our past relationships, families, our surroundings, money and food.
I spoke a lot about my past. For how much I did tell him, he must have thought I'm laying my heart out to him in all honesty and not shying away from discussing anything.
Little he or anyone knew was that I never actually opened a dark door in my conversation with anybody. I was really never in that kind of mood after I finished my education.
When he spoke to me during the smoke breaks, he sounded like a little boy singing a tantrum tune. His voice was coarse but not exactly feminine. His tone changed with the person. With his boys, he sounded more rowdy. That tone was more of a justice to his personality.
I asked him one day, "Dhir, how old are you.". He said, "I'm 24 Vi."
I told him, "Wow, I'm 27. Not that you asked."
He then teased me, "Old woman." And he laughed. I opened my mouth to express the offence I didn't bother taking when we were interrupted by a phone call he got.
He answered the call and was saying, "Tiger, don't worry. You will be fine."
After listening for few minutes he then said, "Give the phone to Tiger. I will talk to him."
He laughed multiple times between his conversations. I heard few more local words come out of him when I noticed his eyes.
His right eye was slightly smaller than the left one. A minute difference. His right eye twinkled more as he laughed. Also, his teeth were all rugged but very childlike. They were not the best looking but were aligned.
I was thinking that there was something adorable about his smile, his whole face when he smiled, his eyes specially. I thought it was actually his lips that made him look the way he looked. I didn't know what I was thinking anymore.
After he hung up, I asked him, "Who is Tiger."
He said, "Tiger is my Grandpa. He loves attention and likes to get sick. He was saying he wants to get admitted in a hospital."
I thought "Strange." I asked him, "Just like that. He likes to act sick randomly. For attention. Who's attention."
He said, "Everybody's attention. He wants people to check on him, call him or stay with him all the time. We do give him enough time and attention but he still wants more." He laughed as he said this.
I couldn't help but say, "Strange". I laughed a little too.
Inside the office, I had three other mentees to take care of and work with. I had made a small political pact with my trainer to allow Dhir to come under me.
Not literally come under me. The thing is, I got to choose four out of thirteen odd mentees. The remaining were to be handed off to the other mentors.
I told her, "I want Dhir under me. Anyone else you give me is fine."
She then said, "You are their first classroom mentor, you have a choice. You only picked Dhir. You can take three more of your choice."
I got her. Somehow, she didn't get me. She didn't realize I didn't care much. But I didn't want to put it across so I told her, "Okay, give me Maddy also."
She said, "Maddy. He is slow. He will affect your mentoring scorecard." I told her, "No problem, I will get him to work better. I really want someone challenging to deal with.You choose the remaining two per your understanding."
The remaining mentees she chose for me were all challenging to deal with in their own way. Prateechi was an orphan who was year older than me. She had financial issues that she dwelled about some times. Sometimes, I caught her crying, took her to the washroom or office lounge to comfort her.
Nasir was an introvert who spoke little and thought less about himself and the job. But one great thing about Nasir is that he loved me deeply. He would put in the efforts he didn't want to to make sure I got what I wanted. He respected me a lot. One day in a fun session during the training, he sang for me, "Tu kitni khoobsoorat hai.... ".
Also the same day, Dhir was asked whom he liked the best among all the girls in the batch and he said, "I would love to ask Vi out." I blushed like a strawberry that day.
The smartest of all the four was Dhir.
I regularly got frustrated with the other mentees when they didn't understand something or asked me the same questions again and again.
One day after a good twenty minute discussion on a particular query, Maddy asked me, "Vi, I am still not understanding why we can't close his account."
I explained to him, "Maddy, I told you. He does not meet the eligibility criteria for account closure. He has pending negative payments. How can we close his account when he owes us money. Think Maddy, your best friend took.. ummm... let's say forty thousand rupees from you eight months ago. He did not return it till date. Will you let him go. Will you not keep him in your life till you get your money back."
Maddy said, "So what am I supposed to tell him Vi."
I was confused now, I asked him, "Tell whom what."
He said, "My best friend."
I said, "Maddy, that was an example. For now you have to tell the client that we will be unable to close his account. He has to clear the negative balances first. Tell him he can do so by using his credit card. Give him steps on how he can update a credit card. Give him a reference help page. After all this, ask him to create a new query when he is ready for account closure. Give him all the eligibility criteria clearly. Don't miss a single detail. Empathise your draft. You have 7 minutes to finish it. When I ask you again, you should be ready."
Whilst all this, I saw Dhir laughing at my expressions. I was already acting exhausted. Dhir then tapped my hand with his pen and said, "Vi, smoke."
I said, "No. Let me finish off with Maddy first."
I reminded Maddy, "Use the word 'unable'. Don't write 'won't be able'".
After a good thirteen minutes, I asked Maddy, "Is your draft ready.".
He said, "No Vi, I'll take 5 more minutes."
I told him, "Move, let me check." I didn't intend to but almost pushed his hand out of my way so I could get a clearer view at his screen.
After I read the draft word after word, I said, "Maddy. What is this. You haven't included anything, any information that is relevant. What are these help pages on credit cards. They are not helpful for this guy. His situation is different from the previous client. Understand Maddy, he is unable to close his account from a long time. He is frustrated. How lucid is your language. Make it more professional. Give him a help page about all the countries that support credit card as well. Maddy make it quick."
Dhir saw me this way and said, "Vi, I finished my query. Do you want to take a look at my draft."
I said, "No" and I started to leave down for a smoke alone. Maddy looked at me while I was leaving and shouted, "Veeee, where."
I yelled back, "Hoooome" and quickly sped past the aisle, the staircase, the cafeteria, the ground floor reception, office entrance and finally reached the smoking area.
After about four minutes, as cutely as he could, Dhir came to the smoking area following me and Maddy came along with him. I looked at Maddy first and asked him, "What about the query. Why did you leave it pending. Chalo, let's go back. I don't need a smoke. I need you to finish that query. Let's go."
Maddy then said, "Vi, I finished it. I checked with the other mentor Misha. She said it was good to go."
I then lit my cigarette. I was happy there was some mentor's approval on that query and that wasn't me. I can share the blame if anything went wrong.
The last two hours of the day were divided between a training session for an hour and a half and a fun activity for the last half hour.
We stretched the fun activity for the entire last hour and left home with all the 'Byeeees!' with smiles on them.
After I left him from work, I got a call from Dhir. I thought that he sure must have something to ask, maybe about a leave or some query.
I answered and said, "Hello."
And he said, a very stretched, chirpy but a little low volumed, "Helloooooo!"
That was music.
His voice on the phone was so sweet. He sounded endearing like a little sweet baby boy. I couldn't believe my ears.
I asked him, "What's up Dhir. Anything urgent."
He said, "No, you had a long day. I was checking on you."
My heart popped out. It went on a small walk that day in search of something else or more. My heart took lanes that it had not travelled through before. My heart met other animated hearts of different colours. My heart was singing, dancing and smoking pot.
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