The clouds cleared after the long session of a massive thunderstorm that had created havoc last night. The sky was still covered in a greyish-blue blanket. The earth was still trying to breathe after the backlash it had received from the Rain Gods. The plants looked greener and the neighborhood cleaner. The roads had canals of rainwater flowing at full speed on both sides and children let their paper boats sail on the channel of water that danced while sailing along with the flow of the water. When one sees the whole scenario from the eyes of a child everything is beautiful. The innocence of childhood and the smile of stress-free faces made the scene resemble one of those from 80’s movies that depicted a simpler life and probably a happier one too!
Vineet, however, was not a child anymore, and the child within him had long been lost. Reasons for this get lost with time and its relevance as well loses significance. He too loved playing in the rains as a child but now he just hates it. No one knows what transformation takes place while we grow up.
He put on his white shirt and took out his tie. The tie had octagonal patterns with a dual shade of sea green and turquoise blue that blended seamlessly.Vineet had the best tie collection among his entire batch of colleagues that sat on the top floor of the building housing all major MNCs. He had gathered many compliments from his offshore and onshore colleagues especially for his tie collection. Whenever he visited any shopping center, he would make sure to buy ties of different pattern for himself despite having matching ties with each pair of his formal wear. His girlfriend Sushma, had fallen in love with Vineet,a simpleton three years back .Vineet had very average looks and was someone who would easily get lost among the crowd. Everything was average about him, but anything that stood out in him was his excellent mannerisms and the way he dealt with people. Probably, it was his upbringing that made him humble in any kind of tough situation. His mother was his ideal and he had vowed to his mother on her death bed that, no matter how difficult life gets, he will not change his founding principles.
Sushma, an electric fire band and seemingly a contrast to Vineet in characteristics could not help herself get drawn to his humility, very much to the shock of everyone. The couple had gone through many taunting remarks like Langoor ko Angoor Kahan se mil gaya? ( where did a monkey get such delicious grapes) and faced many such offending remarks while they continued to date each other. But all these years, the bond between the opposites had only become stronger. Sushma had accepted Vineet for his simplicity and Vineet adored Sushma for her charisma. Like magnets attract iron filings, these opposites attracted each other with an invisible force, much to the jealousy of their friends.
However, Sushma could never understand the obsession with the ties that Vineet had and honestly, had now accepted it in her life. She was now so much accustomed to the shopping of ties that if Vineet ever delayed buying them on their shopping spree, she would be the first one to make her way into the Ties Rack in the men’s section. It was as if the ties had made their ties stronger over some time.
The pitter-patter of raindrops had stopped and Vineet, with much reluctance to step out in the rain, started getting ready for the office. He took his car out of the shed and buckled up his seat belt sideways. The cool breeze after the spell of rains had brought the level of humidity down .Vineet was lost in his thoughts, calculating the market share that his team had been able to tap for the new product launched by his company. He had his appraisal today . He had worked very hard this quarter and had given it all. Unlike any other day, he looked forward to meeting his boss today! The beautiful weather, the mesmerizing shades in the sky had absolutely no effect on him. From appraisal to getting the desired raise in his salary, to having a better lifestyle, to be able to book his first house and finally be able to propose marriage to Sushma, played in front of his eyes. With an extra shot of enthusiasm, he stepped on the accelerator and his car sped past on the wet road defying all speed bumps.
He reached his office and took the stairs, again one of his peculiar behavior of not taking the lift because he felt suffocated within. Everyone mocked him, but he could just not help himself. The very thought of getting inside the lift and the doors closing in front of him, gave him a chill down his spine . It felt as if someone was choking him on his neck. He could easily imagine himself die due to breathlessness just by the vision of closing doors of that tiny space called Lift. He referred to it as a death chamber in his head. He reached his desk after crossing the long flight of stairs, had a last check on the excel sheet entries, and the pie charts depicting that he had achieved his targets, which seemed beyond reach when they were initially assigned to him.He also had customer reviews and feedbacks of how professionally everything was done. There was nothing that could go wrong today, he thought to himself.
With a bright smile on his face, that was probably his confidence in disguise, he went inside the Conference room where the directors of the company were already present . It felt similar to his campus placements during completion of his vocational studies, when he had to get his first job letter. The same tension and the same level of anxiety filled the room. Well, it had to be, this was about jumping a grade from middle management to senior management. He slowly walked in and sat in front of them after being signalled to. He kept his back straight and with a pleasant smile greeted everyone.
The face of everyone in front of him seemed similar, expressionless.He answered every expected question and to his disappointment, they did not seem impressed at all, a reason that could he never understand.
Rather, one of them with a grumpy face remarked on his shabby dressing sense without understanding the fact that it was difficult to not get slightly wet in a rainy season. And one of them, smirked while passing on a hilarious joke on his tie! Vineet, not only felt humiliated but also a feeling of strangulation hit him at that very moment. He could not breathe enough to be able to talk let alone countering them. He tried to grab his tie knot so as to loosen it,so that he could continue his breathing process, but failed. He closed his eyes in that moment of desperation . Alas, all he could see was the doors of the lift ,closing in front of him. He felt …. claustrophobic and like a spring he stood up from his chair, walked towards the exit with his back facing the board. He simply opened the door and continued walking away while ignoring every single call behind his back. He went and sat on his desk with the feeling of phobia still intact. He quickly drank a glass full of water and started typing an Email on his Microsoft outlook. And in a matter of minutes hit the send button of the mail marking all the concerned. He felt light, very light. He then, grabbed his tie knot and took it out of his collar, and threw it in the dustbin with a big sigh! He had truly never liked wearing a tie,he realised it at that point in time.
Two years have passed by now
Sushma called out, “Vineet, I am leaving for work! it’s getting late.””Ok, honey just take your lunch box, it’s ready”, pat came the reply from the kitchen. He quickly came and handed over the lunchbox to Sushma and she left in a hurry waving a goodbye kiss to Vineet.
Vineet now, a Teach India volunteer enjoys teaching school kids and yes he loves getting drenched in the rain with them just like he used to as a little child. No, the couple has still not been able to book their desired house but surely have been able to build their home together filled with love, laughter, and a lot of freedom … freedom to enjoy life! And yes, most importantly Vineet does not have a single tie in his wardrobe now nor does he plan to buy any in future.
Many silently deal with their own claustrophobia in order to fit in the rat race while forgetting to live life.
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