Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Short Story - Cubicle Dairies

‘What an ass! The least the jerk could do was hang around for moral support. I hate you Mr. Maharaj’, I muttered to myself as I hit the send button.

I looked at the corner of my screen.  6:30 pm and we were still pretty far from where we needed to be. Software-wise and movie-night-wise. 

Neil walked by in his black shirt (my favourite), sleeves folded, and giving me a half nod. My heart fluttered, but no, not even he, with his awesome Greek-God like person, could make this evening any better. 

The movie was for 8PM. SRK’s new release at PVR, first night first show and our monthly team movie night.  Of course it was my brilliant idea. And it was a lot of hard work to coordinate and get each of my fussy team members to be available.  I had planned everything. I booked early, managed to get seats together -all 8 of them. Even the aisle seat for Mimi for her frequent bathroom visits.  I even pre-ordered dinner. It was supposed to be a perfect start to the long weekend.

But now here we sat in our grey cubicles, freezing in the overly air-conditioned wing of the e-Logistics department, cursing under our breaths; the friendly camaraderie replaced by impatience and annoyance. 

“Mr. Ramamurthy has advanced the deadline by two days. So, guys, we need to finish the first release today itself. So stay as long as you need to. I will arrange transportation back to your places, if required and let’s show them what an awesome team we are”, 'Mr. Maharaj' announced, this morning, expressionless and in an almost rehearsed manner. “And yes, you will need to come in tomorrow for testing and also on Monday.”

Stunned silence. And everyone turned to look at me, the reigning queen of ‘planning and execution’.  I had certainly not planned for this. 

Murmurs of dissent filled the air.

What the heck...!!

“Well apparently Mr. Ramamurthy is heading for his second honeymoon to Phuket.” 


“Don’t believe me? Check his status update on FB.”

“Isn’t he like 60?”

“Sheesh!!! So much for first day first show, Chitra. ”

“I think you all had movie plans tonight, no? You should just cancel and go after the project is over. ” Mr. Maharaj smiled an over-enthusiastic smile and left to the pantry with this coffee mug.

The day went by in a trance. No matter how much we tried, we were not going to make it. And now at 6:00PM, his highness decides to take off. He had politely refused the movie invitation and thank God, because you can’t really share pop corn and Pepsi with your PM, now can you?  And with most jokes naturally centered around him, it would be really hard for us to be ourselves and have any fun, if he had agreed to come.

“So, team, I’m getting out. I have some family over for dinner. Good luck. Ravi, please take over.”

Like puppets, we all nodded and smiled our wooden smiles.

“Ok then, I will see you on Tuesday.”And just like that he was gone. Suave and smooth. Tossing his longish hair back  and gliding out. Like it was perfectly okay.

And that was the end of the movie night. And the popcorn night .  And the SRK night.  And the long weekend.

Cuss words flew as soon as he was out of sight. 

Ravi, the eternal optimist was ready with his gyan. “Ok guys. Looks like we will miss the movie; which is awful. And Í hate him too but let’s make sure we feel good about something tonight”. 

Ravi, the sweetheart, blessed with kind eyes and an empathetic nature, was wasting his life in this cubicle. He was life coach material. He was the guy who could be on the cover of a self help book. When Ravi spoke, we all listened.

All lot of swearing later, we settled down. The movie started and the movie finished. And by the time, we left office it was 11PM. All of us groaning and moaning, stuffed on pizza and drunk on software code; we were drained out.


I was in a better mood the next day. My policy was very simple. If you have to work on a weekend, you might as well look fabulous. So I took my time getting ready. I wore my new coral hued top with a pair of white ankle-length pants; my neon nail colour looking great against my tan wedge sandals. Sunglasses on my head, smelling like sweet peonies and feeling like a million bucks, I made a ‘fashionably’ late entry. 

I was surprised to see Mr. Maharaj at work.  I really did not think he was going to show up. Didn't he say he would be coming only on Tuesday? 

He was standing up and seemed to be looking towards the door as I entered. Following me with his gaze as I walked the full stretch down the hall and into the cubicles.

‘What a pervert’ I thought, half irritated and secretly half flattered.

“Good Morning Sir!” I chirped and then suddenly noticed the dead pan look on his face. Everyone else was on a coffee break.

What now? I instinctively looked down to see if my top was properly buttoned.

“Chitra please come over to my desk for a minute.”

He pointed to his screen. “Do you know what this is?”

I started to read aloud and stopped after the first two words...

What an ass, the least the jerk could do was hang around for moral support. I hate you Mr. Maharaj’.

Déjà vu. That sounded strangely familiar. 

“What is this, Sir?” I asked suddenly feeling a knot in my throat.

“This is an email from you to me, Chitra around 6:30PM yesterday. Do you know who sent it?” 

What the hell??!!

There it was-staring me in the face-all my hate thoughts, well articulated and delivered directly to Mr. Maharaj itself. Like a slap on the face but via email. My knees suddenly felt weak. The room began to swirl around in slow motion. And my cheeks burned. “I don’t know Sir, how.. it emailed...” I mumbled, suddenly forgetting all my grammar.

“It’s OK. I know everyone is stressed out.”  He said sounding hurt. “You can go now”. 

Wobbling on my wedges, I managed to take the few steps required to reach my seat without falling down. Suddenly I did not feel fabulous anymore.

I checked and double checked my 'sent' box and yes I had sent that email. In my lividness, I actually typed out my thoughts and sent it out to him. My blooper -immortalized-forever.

Half the day I spent in a daze, hoping he would not report me while unsuccessfully trying to draft an apology. 

Mr. Maharaj did not come back to his cubicle after lunch break. Everyone began to speculate as to why he was looking so glum the whole morning despite the fact that the software was coming together, working great and even included some extra features.

"Maybe he had fight with his wife".

"Maybe he sneaked out to watch SRK's movie''.

"Maybe he is just hungover from last night." 

"Is it so difficult for him to show some appreciation?"
I pretended to be very busy.

Around 4:00PM I got an email. It was Mr. Maharaj. Expecting the worst, I opened it. It was addressed to everyone.


I know you all have been working very hard to get this release done and many of you cancelled your weekend plans to meet the deadline. In appreciation, I have arranged tickets to SRK's movie today evening at 8PM- Dinner is  included

Chitra, please collect the tickets from the reception.

See you on Monday. Have fun. 
Mr. Maharaj

Suddenly cheer (in the form of happy swear words)  and high-fives broke out in the cubicle. 

"See I told you it would turn out OK. Great going team!" Ravi shouted happily. "But how the hell did he find out we call him Mr. Maharaj!!!"


  1. Hahahha what a story...i can imagine what Chitra would have gone through :) awesome all's well that ends well :)

  2. Loved this article so much. It's exactly the situation with all us especially who are into MNC's. I just couldn't stop laughing about the email which was sent. It happened with me so many times, and I know how I have managed to escape such situations. Wonderful...

  3. Ya @Shweta, many people have told me this has happened to them.. and its been sitting in my head waiting to come out in a story.. :) Glad you like it..

  4. Hi @Sims, true... its a hilariously embarrassing situation.. for both parties.. But great stories to tell your kids about technology, I guess.. Glad you liked it..

  5. Seena... *CLAP CLAP CLAP*...
    I just loved it..Couldn't stop laughing...I have gone through same, except that mail :P
    Keep rocking and keep writing :)

    Even I am writing these days...not marketing it here...just need genuine help to improve my writing skills...Can you help?

  6. @Mrigank: The best advice I got was to keep reading, keep writing and to keep living.

    Reading lets you learn about things you may never otherwise get a chance to experience.

    Writing lets you get better at writing.

    Living each experience will only give you more writing material.

    Good luck! Keep writing!

  7. I bet many can relate with it, or parts of it. Enjoyed reading it, Seena.

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  9. hahaha what an awesome story ... Mr Maharaja does seem like a cool guy deep down :D Loved the narration :D