Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Cleaning Liquid

Found something I had published - it said - 15 years ago ! It even had 6 interesting comments !
Wow ! It's that long back , that I was so caught up in Sulekha !
Found everything interesting, like I did not write it, someone else did. That must be the way most of the writers & film-maker feel about their old works - detached. Its only the audience who associates the work with the creator.
I feel like I should save that text here before internet does some purge.
I feel so exciiiited !!!

The Cleaning Liquid

Prithi Shetty
Prithi Shetty / 15 yrs ago / 
Tarun looked at his wristwatch. It was digital and showed 3:32 PM. He had always insisted on precise timings. He glanced up and scanned the computer screen. The entire screen was occupied by crampedly written C code. He was trying to find an elusive bug. The bug, which would allow voice recording to play for 21 seconds among other things. Yesterday the playtime had been 14 seconds. And today, an attempt to run the program displayed hundred and twenty one errors. Again he glanced down at his watch. 3:34 PM.
Eleven minutes and the PL (Project Leader) would be here. PL and "those esteemed members of the industry" who would fund the project. Forget achieving the optimum value, the program even refused to run on the demo-day. Panic, rising from the core of his being, had now reached his skin.
He stood up with a start and in effect pushed his chair. The chair rolled away till it bumped off a table. Now he began pacing around in the non-cluttered center of the room. All the computer-tables were lined along the walls. All his colleagues were away and hence no one was around to share his agony. He hit his clenched right fist to his left palm. Looked around the room. Left. Right. Eyes scanned the entire expanse of the room on one side and then roved over his table. Again he looked at his console screen. Bent towards the keyboard, he pressed the down key and scanned the entire program again. Where lies the evasive change? How was he to find it in eight minutes? A quick look at the watch showed 3:37 PM.
He felt sick. He wished he was sick. He was going to be fired. This is it. This is the end. Over. It's all finished. Finished. Standing straight upright, all he could see was...was a bottle. He took a second look. A rather large, amber colored bottle was lying on the overhead panel of his computer table. It contained alcohol based cleaning liquid. Raghunath, the office assistant, had left it there, after the Friday cleaning. Tarun picked up the bottle. The label read, "...contains Benzene..."
His eyes on the bottle, a smile escaped his lips.
The room resounded with their boisterous laughter. They had just finished their gossip cum ribbing session and were moving out for lunch. As Abhijit got up from his chair he exclaimed, "Hey! Look at this," pointing at the overhead panel of Tarun's computer table. Three bottles stood there, side by side, all labels facing the audience. Assuming the demeanor of a performer, he intoned, "Look, if you are deep in coding or debugging and tired, you drink from this Bisleri bottle. If you had a successful execution of your program, you are thrilled -- you drink from this Cola bottle. And if your program refused to run, you drink this chemical. Howz that?" The room resounded with another bout of laughter.
Tarun uncapped the amber colored bottle, swigged the contents in one gulp. Then he stood still for a second and gulped down water from the Bisleri bottle. The expression on his face suggested that cleaning liquids don't taste good. Okay, so now he had to fall sick. And soon. Very soon. In seven minutes flat.
At 4:00 PM sharp Mr. Suraj Kapoor walked into the research Lab. He was Tarun's PL. Along with him walked in Mr. Sonawale from FocuSys. At 4:25 PM sharp, both of them left. There was no Demonstration of the project, as Mr. Sonawale had another urgent meeting to attend. The three discussed the market aspects of the project.
Tarun sat quietly in his chair. Exhausted with relief. Now he was not alone. All his colleagues were back and the usual cacophony reigned the room. He was not sure what he felt like. "To laugh or not to laugh, is the question."
The phone on the next table rang shrilly. Blankly he reached for it and answered with a "Hello". On hearing the voice on the other end, he came out of his reverie. "Yes, speaking." Gradually, his face brightened and his slick demeanor came back.
"Ah ha. Is that you? Glad to meet you. But have we ever met?"
A pause. He listened intently.
"Okay I will wait for you. You know the address?"
A pause again. The smile on his face grew larger and larger.
"Okay then. I will be at the Tiffany's sharp at five. Well frankly I did not expect you to be a female. I am happy you are. See you."
Tarun moved with his chair, towards his table. With his chin resting on his fists, he stared at the console screen. This time he was hunting for no bug. He had a silly grin on his face and his mind was lost in cyberspace.
The call had been from his keyboard-pal, with whom he had been communicating by email for the past four months. Till half an hour ago, he knew no personal details of the person, not even the gender, though he had shared most of his. And now he was going to meet her in person. He was thrilled.
All of a sudden his grin disappeared. A groan escaped his lips. Clutching his stomach he ran out of the room. His neighbor Adi, startled out of his concentration, stared at him go.

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