The day went on as usual otherwise. The emails kept on coming. The meetings kept on dragging. And soon it was lunchtime. My colleagues called me out as I was drafting an email. I had just started on it and would require sometime before I send it to the client. It wasn’t urgent anyways. So I saved it for after lunch and joined the team on their way to the cafeteria.
The lunch table talk was mostly centered around the recent loss of India against England in the ongoing Cricket test series. It was their second consecutive loss and a very bad one at that. As Sahil cursed the careless attitude of Indian Batsmen my eyes wandered towards the TV screen. It was showing its hundred top news of the week. Only a subtext of Indian loss at the bottom of the screen. I thought that the news channel would be cursing for the Indian loss more than any of the ardent fans. The win of India against England around Independence Day would have made for a much better headline.
The talks then wandered off towards the movies that were getting released this week and the team party planned next week. A couple in the team had recently got married and they had decided to throw in a party together for that. By the time we got up from the table, it was almost two. There was a meeting at two. Too involved in the discussion we had lost track of time. So we rushed back to the elevator lobby where the lift was already waiting to go up to the eight floor. All of us promptly slid into the elevator.
I was the last one to get out of the elevator. In my effort to look at the time on my wrist watch while simultaneously turning left towards the office wing, I didn’t realize a group of people coming from the opposite side. I bumped into one of the guys. I looked up apologetically.
“Sorry,” we both said to each other.
The guy smiled and resumed walking past by me. It was then my I saw the two girls who were behind him. One of them was the same girl I had seen in the morning. The one who was with that group taking photos. The one I had thought of complimenting for looking good in that saree. It was the same girl. But she was not waring ‘that’ saree anymore. She was wearing a shirt and jeans instead. Everyday wear. Just like me. Just like the others. She had changed from what she was wearing in the morning.
Then I remembered there was one mail a couple of days back. Regarding the best ethnic-wear team photo competition. Teams were required to send a group photo with each member in an ethnic wear. She must have wore that saree for the competition, the thought flashed across my mind.
As I was thinking all this, I realized that the girl was smiling at me. I wanted to say hi, but I couldn’t. She still looked beautiful, and I could have complimented her anyways. But the fact that she had worn that saree only for a competition got stuck in my mind. I just smiled back, too tongue-tied to say anything.
A strange heaviness bore upon me as I reached my desk and plopped down into my chair. I had a mixed feeling about this day. Disappointed for not wearing an ethnic wear, relieved to find almost everyone being in normal clothes. But I would have liked it otherwise. If everyone had wore something traditional.
And I have no right to judge someone, for I myself wasn’t doing that. But seeing that girl changed into her usual clothes, my heart ached a little. For maybe this act was symbolic of the mindset of today’s youth. Where Independence day celebration is reduced to selfie-taking, and hoping that fifteenth August – the Independence Day- falls near a weekend – so that we get a long weekend. Nothing more that.
Nothing more than that