I peeked out of my comforter. It looked sunny outside. There were some sounds coming from the other room. I put my hand out, searched for my mobile and picked it up. It showed the time to be 7.30 am. Which meant I had just 45 minutes to catch my local if I wanted to reach office in time. ‘Pooja, why didn’t you wake me up’, I shouted. Silence. ‘Alright make some coffee for me’, I screamed again.
‘Khud bana le (make it yourself)’, she screamed back. I stopped and looked back towards the door.
Pooja and me have been roommates for five years now. We had been roommates during our MBA days and after that when we moved to Mumbai to start our careers, we stayed together.
We balance each other nicely. I am reckless, she is calm. She analyses, I act. And now she has become my surrogate mother. Meaning she wakes me up, cooks for both of us and so on. While I am the one who shops for groceries et all.
All in all we gell nicely. But Pooja saying no to a cup of coffee was very unlikely. So what has happened to her.
While I stood staring at her, she boomed, ‘Aren’t yo getting late for office’, and I rushed to get ready.
In the coming days I noticed a gradual change in Pooja. She was distracted, didn’t eat much, went to office reluctantly and refused to open up with me. I just hoped that it was love and not something destructive like drugs.
Until finally one fine day, her mother landed up at our doorstep.
‘Pooja, how are you’, asked her mother.
‘Fine, ma’, Pooja said.
‘Take these snacks, I made it especially for you.’, her mother said.
‘uh, hu’, was Pooja’s reply.
‘There are some Motichoor ladoos too’, said her mother.
‘Pooja are you sick?’, said her mother.
Are you in love with someone?’
‘sheesh…..no, why are you asking this question’
‘Pooja, you don’t call me nowadays, even if you do, you don’t talk. By the looks of you, you are not eating well, you look distracted too. So tell me, whats going on or what is it that is bothering you.’ her mother said.
‘Nothing’, was Pooja’s reply.
‘Aunty is right’, I chipped in, ‘Something is bothering you…’
‘Leave me to my worries’, she screamed.
We left her but it was obvious that something was bothering her.
it was late night. I heard her sobbing in the balcony. I crept slowly to where she stood taking care not to disturb aunty.
‘What’s the matter babe’, I asked.
She looked up in horror
‘Nothing’, she said.
‘And I suppose some dust fell into your eyes and so you are crying’, I said.
she let out a sigh.
‘I want to break free Shraddha.’, she said
‘I did MBA because I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Go back to my town. Start some small scale industry, help generate income, create opportunities for youth…. This job, its demands are not for me ….But….’
“what?’, I asked.
‘I have to do some repair works for our home in the village, i still have to pay off my educational loan. And what about capital for my venture….
‘Good that you know the hurdles before you’, it was her mother. Obviously she was eavesdropping on our conversation.
‘I have spent so much in your education and upkeep. Also what about us, do you want us to stay in some old age home. huh, Leaving off a nice job for ‘jan kalyan’, Hah. And then we have to get you married too’, she said and went off.
Pooja let out a sigh.
We settled back to our routine but Pooja was a different person now, dull and subdued.
It was a Friday evening. I was playing solitaires when Pooja stepped in. ‘Come come, I have brought some rasmalai for us’, I said.
‘Rasmalai? What are we celebrating?’, she asked.
I generally don’t like sweets. And if I do there has to be a reason. Pooja knows that.
Well, I have a plan. Listen quietly till I end.’, I said.
‘Alright’, she said
Four of us i.e Myself, Dinesh, Kartik, Apoorva will give you 10% of our salary as interest free loan for a period of five years. ‘
‘BUT…’, she started speaking/
‘I asked you not to speak in the middle. Yes, I spoke to all our batchmates. So the four of us will provide you with 10 % of our salaries. With that you will have to manage your personal expenses, repairing your home, paying off your educational loan etc. I think it will be enough because you have some of your own savings too. Aniket can provide you with venture capital provided you make a nice case study and submit your ideas. Sheela can market your product of you are thinking in terms of rural crafts etc. Ashish….’
‘I get it. I get it….you all have decided to help me achieve my dreams.’
And so Pooja left to follow her dreams. I miss her, I really do but then she is going to make a difference to the life of others and that is commendable. I hope some day I have the guts to do the same