Today was the ‘Annual Day’ to be celebrated in Vijay’s company. Annual Day was a day of lavish fun and frolic for all the employees of the company which would be celebrated on a very grand scale. Actually every ‘Annual Day’ is joyously celebrated in a lavish manner throughout all the companies. All the employees would set aside the stress of their routine work and spend time in thoroughly enjoying the day. They would remain occupied with variety of outdoor and indoor games like football, cricket, table-tennis, badminton throughout the day followed by an entertainment cultural program in the evening to refresh oneself from the day-long tiredness in which a dance on orchestra would be often played. Along with the company employees even the other outside guests invited there would quench their zest for dancing and singing. After the end of that dance and singing orchestra would be the lavish dinner at 9 pm but experience was that nobody would be able to begin the dinner party sharp at 9 pm and everybody was allowed to stay doing all the fun as much as possible till one can remain in the party at night which means there was no end to the fun and frolic. Besides, the next day would be a holiday which means everybody could afford to relish the fun till late in the night even up to 3 AM.
Actually speaking, this ‘Annual Day’ in the company was Vijay’s first to be experienced of its kind. He had heard a lot about it so far. Therefore, today he had lavishly enjoyed all the indoor as well as outdoor games such as Cricket, Table Tennis, and Carom and all other possible play activities till the time his thirst for joy was fully quenched. Besides that, while participating in each of these activities, Nayana was inducing him constantly, to double his enthusiasm. As a result, he did not feel much tired as such. In fact, in the evening he even abundantly enjoyed the fun of playing ‘Musical Chair’ in the cultural programs by constantly occupying every other chair adjacent to Nayana. And now the moment of enjoying the peak of that day’s fun and joy had arrived finally – the evening party had started. Today, no one had any restrictions of eating and drinking anything up to any quantity he or she may want to relish. All types of liquor, such as Beer; Rum; Vodka; Whisky and even Red Wine were made available to all the employees and guests equally alike. The hard core liquor fans were bound to jump at this golden opportunity but those who would remain aloof from consuming liquor too would feel tempted by the lure of this unique freedom of its own kind – available only once in a year.
So the games were played abundantly followed by the cultural program and now the liquor party and dinner was scheduled. All the employees arrived at the venue little before the scheduled time and were whiling away their time by standing in small groups. Obviously, the topic of the entire talk was how lavishly they had enjoyed the day while playing variety of games. The evening party was organized on a fresh green lawn outside the hotel venue and there four counters organized in the four corners of the lawn to serve liquor and cold drinks. All the counters were attended by the catering staff in their formal ironed white clothes with white gloves in their palms. The whole atmosphere was appearing out to resemble with the grand ball room or a dinner banquet hall of a five star hotel. While chatting among themselves everybody’s sight would time and again settle on the four wine and liquor counters set up there but no one had any courage to go and fill his or her glasses because the boss was yet to arrive and therefore no one had any guts to begin the party before the boss had arrived. Without boss’s arrival no one would think of touching the liquor or even fill the glass with plain chilled water. What if the boss arrives and he unnecessarily doubts the plain water glass to be that of Vodka causing a grave misunderstanding in his crocodile mind. It is for this reason, throughout all the annual day parties, an unwritten rule, that no activity should begin without boss’s arrival would be strictly adhered with. Therefore, although all of them were pretending to be busy in the chats among themselves, all of them were curiously awaiting for the arrival of the ‘Big Boss’. All of them were too eager to see the boss present there so that they would fill their glasses and quench their annual thirst and feel the thrust.
Suddenly the whole atmosphere was electrified when a hustle-bustle was noticed at the main entrance of the lawn and that wave of excitement reached and spread among all the invitees……..Ah! Finally the boss had arrived. Complete silence spread in the lawn and everybody’s attention turned at the entrance.
‘Yes! Quite right! The boss had arrived!’.
Immediately after stepping on the lawn, the boss had greeted all of them either by a smile, pat on a shoulder or a greeting expression with palms together – especially for the women. Boss was followed by his wife and daughter Nayana too. Finding that the boss had arrived with family the cunning employees, master at the art of appeasing the ego of every boss, had started lavishly demonstrating their skill.
‘Hello everybody! Today is our party and it is a special annual party! Then why are your hands empty! And why are you looking so pale and quiet?’, boss tried to make everybody’s fun.
In fact, if the boss was to have noticed anybody drinking a glass of liquor before his arrival then he would have made a serious note of it and instantly thought of a cruel idea to teach a memorable lesson to him. But everybody knew that when it comes to talking to a boss one needs to follow double standards. Therefore some of them started laughing at the mischievous gesture of the boss whereas others started forcibly smiling at the remarks passed by the boss. Vijay always hated all such appease-masters because he knew that they were the same people who lacked any talent. In fact, Vijay also hated his boss because of his attitude of feeling joyous at the unworthy appreciation. But the position of his boss being different and delicate he could never express his real feelings toward him. However, he was going to one day reveal his thoughts to the boss because these were indeed the same people who, in spite of being inefficient and relatively unproductive, were managing to rise in the company as compared to the other meritorious employees who were being treated in an unjust manner. This was indeed the crux of the reason why the real life atmosphere in the company was being highly polluted. Although, apparently the atmosphere in the company was appearing to be fine this infection in the minds of the people was bound to prove harmful for the future growth of the company.
After the boss entered there the whole atmosphere had changed radically. One of the pawns of boss prepared the glass of liquor for the boss and offered it to him. Only after the boss galloped a first sip of the liquor that everybody rushed to the wine and liquor counters. Soon from all corners of the lawn the noise of glasses and bottles started echoing. During the college days Vijay had tasted the beer with friends after being pressed by them and he also knew that in a corporate atmosphere one needs to taste it again because of the formal pressures but on the whole he had never liked the taste of a beer. But he had very firmly resolved not to ever go beyond drinking the beer given the kind of pathetic state his father had reduced himself up to. Although many of his colleagues and friends had tried persuading him to go for hard drinks but Vijay was not going to succumb to their demands. He would rarely break a rule he would have bound himself with.
Soon Vijay started enjoying the state everybody else had brought himself down to because everybody was revealing his or her mindset and thus it was a golden opportunity to learn the true feelings of what the other colleagues might be otherwise thinking of. But very soon Vijay realized the futility involved in it after noticing many of his colleagues were only repeating what they had said earlier. On the contrary, Vijay’s first glass of beer too was not yet empty and therefore he glanced throughout the crowd gathered in the lawn. His eyes were now searching for Nayana. One of the corners of the lawn was fully occupied by women and there among them he saw Nayana standing beyond a pole. She was having a glass of soft drinks in her hands and she was deeply engrossed in the chat with her girl friends. Holding the liquor glass he strolled in front of her under the pretext of going to the serving counter and both Nayana and Vijay saw each other and she gave a pleasant smile to him. After reaching that serving counter he thought of moving away from there because as such he was not going to consume any liquor. So he paid a glance at the group of all the girls with whom Nayana was standing and he could only hear the sound of their discussion. But the sound alone was not sufficient to understand what they were talking about.
Once again Vijay looked at the surroundings carefully and thought, ‘What if I stand before that curtain close to Nayana and try to hear what these girls are talking with Nayana?’.
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Girish Katre (GirishKatre@gmail.com)