Sunday, June 03, 2007


Suleman was busy writing new code for his dream project. He could have delegated the job to any one of the three hundred and fifty software programmers in his company. If he wished, he could have assembled a team of the brightest among his staff and put a project manager over them to supervise the project. But this task he had chosen to do himself. This was the top secret project his company had managed to win from the international competition. He would not trust his employees to keep it secret.

Suleman paused for a break and ordered his secretary to send in some tea. He was tired now. Had been working all day long. As he waited for the cup of tea to arrive, Suleman thought about his childhood days. No one would have believed that Suleman would go ahead and start an IT company. He remembered the days when his father ran a small tea stall by the roadside in Mumbai and Suleman was the only and unpaid employee at the stall.

His uncle who lived in Dubai would visit them once a year and bring new clothes for Suleman. He had to make those clothes last the whole year. Suleman liked his uncle. The uncle would chide Suleman's father for making the boy work at the tea stall. Uncle wanted to take the boy with him to Dubai. But Suleman's mom would not have anything to do with it. "I do not want my child to become a gangster like your brother" she would say to Suleman's father.

Suleman remembered all this as he waited for his tea. "Why is it taking so long, Helen!" he barked into the intercom. "One moment Sir, I am just bringing it in, Sir" his secretary answered sweetly.

Suleman waited for Helen to enter his office. Good girl that, he thought. Nice curves and super efficient. He changed his secretaries twice a year. He believed in variety. A successful man like him has the right to indulge! Helen was his latest acquisition. Shall take her to Lonavala this weekend, he said to himself.

His mind drifted back to the project in hand. No one would guess the code I am thinking up, Suleman thought. Brilliant indeed! I am substituting commonly used words for other commonly used words! Sir means a pig in my code. Boss means dog. Madam means bitch. Yes means screw you... Suleman smiled at his own ingenuity.

"WHERE THE HELL IS THAT TEA I ASKED FOR!" a thunderous voice bellowed from the boss's cabin.

Suleman woke up from his daydream with a start. The big boss's secretary was glowering at him. "Come on you fool! What are you smiling at? Pour that tea into the cup. Boss wants his afternoon tea!" Helen, the secretary woman yelled at Suleman.

"Yes Madam" said Suleman, smiling inwardly as he meekly poured tea from his kettle and handed the cup to the curvy woman. He was still smiling when he reached his father's tea stall across the road.


© Rajendra Pradhan

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