Office is a place to work. But what comes under the purview of work is not well-defined. I am one among the many people who use this loophole to their advantage. I was trying to basket a piece of paper into the wastebasket kept at the farthest corner of the cubicle, when Meera walked in with a frown on her face.
Three days had passed since Rajat started acting rude to her, as per my directions. And by each day I had noticed Meera growing more and more agitated. I had watched these developments with a wicked smile.
Meera walked straight towards me and asked, “Rajat is your friend right?”
“Hmm… He is kind of an acquaintance.” I answered.
“But he is your roommate.”
“Yes that he is. But we talk very less and I never speak office matters with him and I definitely don’t give any advice to him”
“I can see that. He is sooooo rude and you are really nice.”
I was beaming with happiness. The happiness that one feels when a pretty girl tells you are nice is indescribable.
“Aah…Mm…Err… Thank you”
But Meera didn’t acknowledge my gratitude. Instead she asked, “Is Rajat always so bad in his behaviour?”
“Yeah, kind of… I don’t know… He is my roommate. I shouldn’t probably say anything.” I was given the opportunity to deliver more damage to Rajat and I was lapping it up like a hungry cat.
“Ok. I understand.” Meera said
I was not finished, “But I can tell you that he barely speaks at home and he is always angry towards the whole world and very pessimistic in his outlook. He sees a cute puppy and says that it is going to grow old and die. I mean what kind of a person says such a thing. He is… He is…” I was searching for an apt word to provide a crowning effect to the tirade against Rajat, when Meera thoughtfully completed the sentence, “He is damaged.”
I thought for a moment whether that word was sufficient.
I felt that calling Rajat crazy or terming him as an alien or something more dramatic would have been appropriate; but I didn’t want to disagree with Meera.
So I also chimed, “Yes, he is damaged; damaged beyond repair. So damaged that…”
Meera cut me off, “But I can change him.”
“I can change him. Oh this is so exciting. Rajat is the kind of guy who doesn’t understand what it means to be nice. I want to show him how to be nice. I want to help him. Oh the poor man. How sad that he had to grow up not knowing what it is like to be treated with respect and being gentle with others. I am sure he had a traumatic childhood.” Meera was so animated that she used her hands to gesture her joy. She was happy.
I stood rooted to the spot. The world was crashing around me. How could this happen? I had a perfect plan to paint Rajat in a very bad light in front of Meera and here she was ready to take him up as her pet project.
I finally found my voice, even then it was a squeak, “That is great.”
Meera left the cubicle, apparently to start working on her plans to change Rajat.
I didn’t move a muscle for the next 5 minutes. My brain was working overtime. Finally, I sighed and smiled. I had a plan. The situation was bad but not irredeemable.
That evening during the bus ride home, Rajat was going ballistic about Meera.
“Dude, you wouldn’t believe what happened today. Meera was very nice to me. She asked about my home. She asked about my studies. She was impressed with my academic achievements and even patted my shoulder. She patted my shoulder, man”
“Yeah, that is great, Rajat; that is great.” I was fuming.
“I have to thank you man. You are a genius.”
“Yes, I am a freaking genius.” I said through clenched teeth.
I kept to myself during the journey and Rajat didn’t ask me why. Why would he? He had received a pat on the shoulder from Meera.
At night, I casually brought up the subject of Meera again, with Rajat. I said, “So you think our plan is working, huh?”
“Yes, man. Working gloriously… Hats off to your brain” Rajat was full of praise for me.
“Yeah, yeah, now it is time to execute the second phase of our plan.” I said.
“Oh is it? Tell me what to do” Rajat was eager.
“Tomorrow onwards you are going to drop the act of being rude and behave nicely to Meera. You should be very convincing. Help her out in the support activities… Speak politely and just forget about being mean to her.”
“Phew. This is a good plan. You don’t know how difficult it was for me to be mean to her before. I mean, how can one look at her and say anything rude?” Rajat was obviously relieved.
“I like this plan of yours. I like it better than the previous plan of yours.” he continued.
I smiled. Not the smile of a victor, but a more cautious hopeful smile. I had read somewhere that girls always think that they can change guys and make them better. I figured that when Meera saw Rajat’s change in behaviour, she would think that she had succeeded and drop the whole issue. She would be happy with her success, but then Rajat would cease to be important to her.
I went to bed thinking about how Meera would run to me to announce her success with Rajat and how I would congratulate her, praise her people skills and then suggest that I give her a treat in CCD for improving my roommate thereby making my life better. I dreamed about us sipping coffee and talking while the guys passing by watched us in envy. I slowly fell asleep with a mischievous smile still playing on my lips.