He was a newbie at our office.
He brought 5 slices of brown bread and Aloo Gobhi (a popular Indian vegetable cooked with Cauliflower and Potatoes) to office every day. He would heat it in the microwave and gulp them down with two cups of coffee. Every day.
We all shared food with each other. We found his eccentric behavior, of eating the same menu every day, quite funny. In every other matter he was normal, like us.
He ate alone and didn’t eat with us. Besides who would want to share the kind of meal he brought to office every day? We would have been the losers, not him.
Office is office and there will be gossip behind people’s back. Everyone used to joke behind his back.
‘Iron Clad Menu!’
“Gluttony of Monotony!”
“No prizes for guessing what he’s bringing today!”
The tags on him were merciless. And all would laugh at a new joke we could think on him and his unchangeable menu. This continued for two years.
Then one day a strange thing happened. We came to know he had resigned a month back. And this was his last day at the office. More surprises were in store for us! This time when he opened his meal box there were no bread slices. But a sumptuous feast — vegetable rice, chilly cheese, yummy yogurt and deserts. This was completely unlike him.
It was this day or never. If we didn’t ask him the question that was uppermost in our minds we would all die with the mystery unsolved.
‘Sir, if you don’t mind, can I ask you a question?” We formed a semi-circle around him, with him at the center.
“Yes?” He was not the least intimidated.
“Why did you eat only 5 slices of bread and aloo gobhi everyday? For 2 years?”
He laughed. “You took a long time to ask the question. Well, every day we take the same route to office. Every day we sleep at exactly the same time. Every day of our life is no different from the previous. We do nothing with our lives. When every aspect of our lives is the same, why should the food be different? I had vowed I would eat the same stuff as long as I would do the same thing day after day. It was my way of breaking the mould I had settled into.”
“And this change today? What’s the reason for your celebration?”
“For 7 years I was trying to complete a novel I was writing. Every other distraction was welcome, because it was damn tough to work in discipline. So I took the vow. That I had to publish my book before I would get rid of those 5 slices and aloo gobhi. A month ago, the novel got accepted. I had broken my routine. Did something with my life after all.”
“Is that why you quit the job?”
He smiled as he nodded his head. I have enough to be able to pursue writing. The thought that I would never finish my novel was scary. Now I know I can finish what I begin. And I have several ideas in my head. Besides I need to promote my book too. It is close to my heart.”
He shared his meal with us that day. It was the tastiest lunch I ever had.
“Please do show us the copy of the novel when it appears in print,” We told him as we saw him off.
It was amazing, we had a writer amidst us and we never knew anything about him. While driving back home, I saw his point of view. The same boring road. The same routine. Unchanging. Monotonous. Deathlike. No passion!
Life was precious and ticking by. I too began to think of my passion. Photography. There was always the day when I would go out on a holiday to shoot. I had been damn good behind the camera. But somewhere I lost the passion. I would have to do something about it.
Next day, I too brought 5 slices of bread and aloo gobhi.
I was not alone. Three more colleagues had the same menu.
We didn’t laugh when we saw the coincidence.
I am an Indian writer by passion and a copywriter by profession. I have published around 60 short stories in almost all the magazines of India. I have co-written two novels: The Quest of the Sparrows, and DAREDREAMERS — A Start-up of Superheroes. Rupa Publications, is the publisher of these novels. To read more about it on my website google ravinirmalsharma (please cut paste this word on your browser to access it) Wish you a happy journey through life!