She was twenty-five, of nice clear skin and mobile mouth, slender but well made, with black tresses flowing down to her shoulders, and radiant eyes filled with avid curiosity. Her fingers waltzed across the keyboard, as did the fingers of the 50 or so other programmers sitting in neat rows carved across the spick and span ambience of the long air conditioned hall.
The intercom on her table buzzed. ‘Gauri, will you come to my office,’ came the voice over the wire.
Blood rushed to Gauri’s face and her mouth went dry. Such was the effect that the boss always had on her. ‘In a minute boss,’ she uttered, in a flurry of excitement.
Cubicles belonging to different executives of the company, lined one side of the hall. One of these cubicles belonged to the boss, who was the company’s programmer-in-chief. Gauri pushed the glass door and entered, her pulse quickened as her eyes feasted on the boss’s perfect form.
Head crowned with jet black hair falling in locks over the forehead, clear dark eyes agile as that of a child, a patrician nose followed by a pink mouth that was a perfect cupids bow, the boss was an immensely noticeable personality. Only someone with heart of gold could have a face like this! Gauri sighed at the thought.
The boss indicated a chair and without wasting another moment began taking Gauri through a file open in the laptop lying on the table. Though she pretended to be normal, deep inside, Gauri reeled under desires that her infatuated mind conjured. What if she raised her finger and touched the boss on the arm? What if she brushed her hand across the boss’s neck?
‘Do you understand, what changes I want you to make in the program,’ said the boss, after the demo on the laptop was complete.
‘Yes boss,’ uttered Gauri.
‘When you are done making the changes, let me know.’
‘Fine boss,’ said Gauri. Returning to her place in the hall she slipped down on the chair and took a deep breath. Being in love is tough enough, but being in love and too shy to do anything about it, there is nothing thornier than that. Oh could she ever dare to unveil her true feelings to the boss!
What alternative did she have expect suffering in silence, and sinking deeper and deeper into the world of fantasies that her infatuated mind never ceased to weave. A favorite fantasy was the one where Gauri finds herself at a secluded villa in a deep forest with the boss as her only companion. One thing leads to other and soon the boss and Gauri are together on the bed.
But sex is not the only activity that takes place in the villa, though that is surely the dominant theme, there is also lot of holding hands, interesting conversations by the fireside, cooking food for each other and just feeling great. Gauri uttered a sigh as snippets from the fantasy played out in her mind.
‘Gauri, are you all right?’ said Nishtha, another programmer who occupied the place adjacent to Gauri’s.
Her reverie broken, Gauri looked at Nishtha guardedly. Have I been musing loudly? Has Nishtha heard me say something that can compromise my love for the boss? ‘Why do you ask?’ she asked.
‘You were hunched listlessly on your desk,’ said Nishtha simply.
Gauri saw that the few other programmers in the hall were also looking at her. ‘It is just that I am feeling a bit drained,’ she said quickly.
‘Why don’t you take some coffee?’ said Roshan, another programmer.
‘I think I will do that,’ said Gauri, getting up from her seat to get coffee from the vending machine installed across the hall.
That night when Gauri slept she dreamt of the boss. They were sitting on a bench in the secluded corner of a park and the boss was suggesting that they should start living together. She said yes to the proposal. The boss leaned towards her and their lips met. They were so happy.
Next day she left bed earlier than usual and started getting ready with great care. She applied curlers to hair, painted finger nails bright red and doffed a purple velvet dress, which was her best dress. Thus attired she stood in front of mirror and admired herself for sometime. ‘Maybe today boss will notice that I am more than just another programmer,’ she told herself.
The boss arrived at the office at the same time as Gauri. ‘You are looking pretty today,’ said the boss, with a bright smile.
‘Thank you,’ said Gauri, and in a sudden flush of courage she added, ‘so do you.’
‘Oh I am in my middle thirties, surely not the age to look pretty,’ laughed the boss.
‘I am sure many would find you just that.’
They steeped into the elevator and as the elevator’s door closed, the boss looked into Gauri’s eyes, and said, ‘you know I have always liked you. If I have to confide in anyone, I would rather confide in you.’
Gauri was awestruck; her impossible fantasy was coming true. Her heart throbbed wildly as she waited for the boss to speak further.
‘I am in love,’ the boss continued in the same vein.
Ah the confession of love! At last it had been made! So sure Gauri was that the boss was confessing love for her.
‘My boyfriend proposed last night. And you know I accepted,’ the boss laughed lightly. ‘We plan to get married in a fortnight. Of course, I will be making an official announcement to everyone at the office, but I wanted you to know first of allÃ¢Â?Â¦’
The words hit Gauri like a shattering explosion, her legs turned into jelly making her slump in a heap on the elevator’s floor.
‘My God, Gauri,’ Miss Rita Mukherjee cried in a frantic urgency, ‘what happened?’
‘I am just feeling drained that’s all boss,’ Gauri whispered, getting up with boss’s help. At that point the elevator door’s opened on the fifth floor and Gauri ran out leaving the dumbfounded boss behind.