“How dare you….” He jumped up and charged ahead. “Are you asking me ?” the sunglasses were up. Bibhas was looking at those wide pools of eyes, now with a faint glint in them. “Yes ! I am asking you. Why did you laugh?” “That’s my business. Who are you to ask ?” Bibhas was furious, “ You mean you didn’t even notice the----the –fa—I mean—incident ? Then why—” “—Why did I laugh ? Okay , here goes---I was laughing at that thin brown mongrel.” Bibhas noticed his brown shirt . He was slightly thin too . Somebody in the crowd laughed . He knew he had lost it this time; the right wrist was paining like one hell; but he made a last ditch effort, “ I can’t see---” ---“It is already gone. You can go too.” The bus roared away. Bibhas stood on the pavement , cursing silently under his breath.
It was almost dark when Sarbani peeped in his chamber. “Bhaaiya.” “Not yet.” “It’s past six.” “Oh! Boudi, stop that , will you! I am busy.” “No. I won’t. Get up fast or I call up your brother” Sarbani tugged at his hand. “Ouch ! It hurts.” Bibhas stood up, nursing his swollen wrist. The pain brought back the memory of the fall, the laugh, the eyes-- “Ay ,What’s wrong bhaaiya ? You look lost !” He made a face.
Sitting in the passenger seat , Bibhas kept mum as Sarbani guided the car through the messy evening traffic of Calcutta. She was getting slightly worried. This is not everyday Bibhas ! At park Circus signal she killed the engine and finally ventured to ask, “What’s wrong ?” “Why did you take away the car in the morning ? I had to come by a cab.” “That’s not a big deal ! It happens to you every other day! Be punctual or have it , that’s the rule of the house.” “Huh!! Empty excuses !! All women are ---” --Come , come; who are the others? You sound pretty experienced on the woman issue!!” “Knowing one is enough. ” “Who? Me?” “No, you are bad but not that bad !” “Then who is this THAT bad ?” Bibhas spilled out the entire story.
“Her name is Barsha. Tall , fair, handsome; doing her final year in commercial art,already got a diploma in multimedia application etc. etc. ---suits us—” Sarbani suddenly said over her cup of tea. Bibhas and Sarbani were already at the breakfast table---- waiting for Aurobindo to join. “What ! Not another match making!” Bibhas yelped from behind the Sunday page. “How dare I ! Don’t I know Saint Bibhas ?” “Then ? She wants a job ? Tell dada . I won’t be able to attend office for another week at least. Bibhas waved his bandaged wrist—now in a sling. Sarbani regarded Bibhas with a sly look—“Brilliant idea Bhaaiya. I shall talk to Aurobindo then.” Suddenly she jumped up and ran upstairs. Mad girl; she will never change. Bibhas let out a sigh and picked up the Sunday page again.
He took almost one month before coming back to his snug little office cubicle. Once recovered, Aurobindo had sent him to give final touches to the setting up of the Mumbai zonal office. In fact, Bibhas had nothing much to do there – the job was in trusted hands. Moreover, their new Accounting software package was due for launch in two months’ time! Bibhas was the project director for that. How could he , at this point, leave station !----but somehow Aurobindo was adamant. Bibhas had to go.
Coming back to his office desk after a month, a surprise was awaiting him. The sample ad layouts for the new software package were lying on his table. Bibhas opened the folder--- It was a sketch—confident strokes with a thick brush— A man lying prostrate on the pavement while a girl laughs from a passing Bus window—the caption in bold red said, “throw away your accountant and join the RED_DOT bandwagon. Our latest Accounting package---- blah—blah—blah…Bibhas was not at all reading the rest any more—he was just pressing the bell madly-- “Call Mrs. Sarbani” He growled at the panicky attendant. “Who has made this layout ?” Bibhas waved the piece of paper even before Sarbani was properly in. She looked pleased, “I knew it would catch your eyes. It’s so brilliant !” “Boudi, just tell me–WHO MADE IT ?” “You seem to be more interested in the artist than her work !” “So, it is a she ! Hmmmm--, may I know her name please?” “Barsha . A new recruit. I told you about her. She is simply Brilliant -- both by looks and work. Your dada was highly impressed.” “And you?” “Why , it was I who roped her in. For five days I scoured all the chartered-- er,--let it go” “Can I see her ?” “Oh yes , why not ? She is quite a looker ! Just press the Bell,” Sarbani suddenly looked somewhat uneasy—“But I must be going. My table is full.” “No . You are not going anywhere.” “Why ? Is the saint afraid of being alone with girls? ” She left the room laughing. Bibhas pressed the bell and lit a cigarette.
“May I come in ?” “Yes. Ple----” Bibhas looked up and his jaws dropped. It was the same girl of the bus window!! “You ! ” “You !!” There was a dumbfounded silence for a few moments. Then the girl stammered out-- “I—er-- did not know---- I am so sorry.” “ Me too!” “For your gruff attitude that day ? “—she was already out of the initial shock----“ You need not be sorry for that . After all , you cannot change your basic nature!” Bibhas’s voice was like an icy, sugary knife—“I am not sorry at all for what I said that day. You deserved it. In fact you deserved something more for your uncivilised behaviour. I was too polite to attempt that. But I am really sorry now. Because I am going to fire you.” “Fire me ? “ “Yes. You are fired. Get your accounts cleared and go.” Barsha gathered up her folder with a deliberately slow movement. “Okay then. But before I go I want to give you a last chance—Will you reconsider you decision? “ “Huh ! She is giving ME chance !”. “ You better grab it. Or--” “Hmmmm. Like me to show you the door?” “No thanks. But very soon you will be showing something to everybody. ” Bibhas looked up. She was holding the ad layout in her hand----the fallen man’s legs in her grip— “I am going back to my freelancing job. And very soon , this is going to be a front page cartoon in one of the leading dailies. I shall change the face of the fallen man and the text Now it will be your face , and the text will say---” “Hey !!” “Yes. Think about it. You will be famous man.” “ You blackmailer ! I -- I--”
Barsha was just opening the door when Aurobindo rushed in waving a fax. “Come and see what I have got for you.” “I have been fired Sir.” “But who did--” “Mr. Sanyal fired me just now.” “That’s me! I never—!!!!” “I mean Mr. Bibhas Sanyal Sir.” “May I know her fault please?” ----This to Bibhas. Bibhas was going to burst out again but Barsha acted faster; she held out the sketch—“For making this layout sir.” “ But it’s fantastic,..” Bibhas could notice a faint glimmer of smile playing at the corners of his lips—“If Bibhas does not like it for his software package, change the word to “Postman” instead of “Accountant”. I am going to use this in the free E-Mail page of our site.” “E-Mail !! but we don’t have any—” “Dear lady, we are now going to have our own website--- www. Red_dot. Com . Here’s the confirmation. I came to discuss initial plans.” “Sir-- but--”, “Sanyal Junior overruled. You are not going anywhere. Website launches in three months time, just on the eve of Puja.” “But—” Bibhas was just starting to protest. Aurobindo cut him short— “She is a good artist ,with a first rate degree in web designing. You two will work as a team. You are responsible for the programming part of the site and she will look after the aesthetics. That’s final.” He rushed out. Barsha cast a slanting glance at Bibhas and followed Aurobindo out of the room.
“How’s the webpage coming up ?” “Fine. I have almost finished my part.” “How’s the new girl doing.?” “Okay.” “Workwise ?” “Okay.” “Bhaaiya, isn’t she really really good looking ? She got four proposals in last three months!.” “Okay.” “But, she turned them down.” “Okay.” “Come on. That’s not the only word in the dictionary !!” “What more do you want to hear ?” “What you really feel.” “I don’t like her, and that’s a gross understatement.” “Bhaaiya, do you know one thing?” “What ?” “You are a fool.” Sarbani rose from her chair. “ Just go and see what she is doing in her computer these days and you will understand. Hopefully.” “I only hope I do not catch her playing computer games during working hours.” “Just go and see, you fool !” “Boudi , this is office.” “Damn your office” Sarbani stormed out of his room.
Barsha was too engrossed in her work to notice Bibhas entering her cubicle. He stood behind her , peeped into the screen and froze. She was adding frames after frames of that damned cartoon on an onscreen pasteboard ! She was animating it !!!! Suddenly Barsha looked behind. “ Hi. How long ?” “Just dropped in to see your handiwork.” “ Nice. Isn’t it ? Sir is liking every bit of it. Want to see the demo run ?” “ I donot think I want to.” “But why ?” “ Don’t you know?” “But – just see the animation first ! You will like it too. I’m sure” “So , you want me too see my humiliation with my own eyes and pat your back for that ! Isn’t it stretching the expextation a bit too far ?” Barsha blushed to the root of her hair as she looked up, “No, Bibhas – not exactly that – I mean—.” “Better keep that sweet talking for dada and Sarbani. That’s how you are surviving in this company---” Barsha was trying to say something but Bibhas did not let her--“ I can understand your getting hold of boudi. She is a simple girl. But I just fail to understand how you could please dada ! He is an experienced businessman! ” “ Do you mean-- ? ” “Don’t you ?” “Oh!” Her eyes clouded --“ I won’t bother you people any more. I am quitting.” Bibhas felt a pang of something deep inside him-- “You aren’t serious ! How can you walk out like that ?” Suddenly her eyes were all fire and tear, “ Yes ,I can and I will. Who are YOU to stop me ?” She stood up and walked out without another word.
It was a sultry afternoon at Mumbai.. Bibhas opened the big window on the sea side of his office room. It’s been one month since he has taken charge of their Mumbai office. The market is totally different here. A whole new world of possibilities! But somehow Bibhas feels a little tired these days. That’s why he shifted himself to Mumbai office. But , it did not help.
The telephone buzzed. It was Sarbani on the other side. “Bhaaiya, are you on the NET?” “No” “ Then get into it. Now. The www.red_dot.com has been launched.” Bibhas put down the receiver and switched his modem on.
The e-Mail section had that same cartoon in a small box at the top of the opening page. “Naughty girl”--Bibhas smiled . He was about to move back to the Home page again when it all happened. The picture in the box started moving.---- the girl came down from the bus, helped the fallen postman up and kissed him on his cheek--- on the upper right corner ,dancing red dots were forming a slogan --- I love you my postman – I want my Red_dot----” Bibhas silently looked on as the animation kept on repeating itself endlessly and then dialled the Calcutta office------
---“Boudi,” “What’s it ?” “Who finished the web page designing ?” “ Why , Barsha of course. Couldn’t you guess even that?” “ But she ----” “I know everything, and I know more than you , as usual. Remember your first meting with her ? You told me the story. I simply loved the spirit of the girl. It was not very difficult to locate her in one of the very few charterd buses that pass by our office. Luckily, she had the qualifications. After that it was a matter of time before I could rope her in. And I brought her back the day you left for Mumbai.” “ Boudi..” “ I am listening.” “Is she in office?” “No. She is at home today. Not keeping well.” “I just …” “It’s your problm. You sort it out. I can’t help.” Bibhas put down the receiver and started dialling again. He was going to make another long distance phone call to Calcutta, hopefully a long awaited one too.