It took me a while to regain my senses after what hit me on 9th October 2014. It all started with Jack asking me to role-play a 3rd standard kid for one last Crossroads interview. “Hmmm…all of a sudden? Fine. Whatever! But wait! Why me? Can I play a 3 year old instead??
Jack: Sharanya thinks you are the best person to do it.
Me: Sharanya!! why did you suggest my name?
She just acted busy, smiled and turned away. An escape looked out of question; so I sat for the interview feeling the video recorder and a zillion eyes ON ME.
Jack: This is serious. It is important that you sound like a 3rd standard kid. Do you need some more time to prepare yourself?
Me: Oh!! Mmmm. No, I am good. (But why is there an audience??? Why does the whole office have to witness this?) Guys, please duck or go away!
(Of course that didn’t work.)
Sharanya’s questioning was so perfect that I actually felt like an 8-year old. I am sure I sucked at the interview but as it came to a close, Sharanya, in her unique cute way, said that she has got something special for me. (What’s going on??) The real me had a slight inkling that she was up to something but with all those eyes on me and Jack’s last words, I stayed in the 8-year-old’s shoes. She slowly drew out a Report Bee designer folder and placed that in my hands.
(Wow! That’s me! AND this is favourite design!!!) Inside the folder were a bunch of coloured chart paper pieces tucked into its inner pocket. I think I heard some voices, “open it…read loudly.” Stunned as I was, I could sense something familiar …something like a “Bee-to-Bee”. Jayashree corrected, “Bees-to-Bee”.
I am so very slow; I took a while to process all that information. I started to read my first message, stumbling and fumbling over most words, in a contemplative but monotonous voice. So, Anant and Nikhil jumped in to rescue the audience, took my reading privileges away and alternated reading one message at a time. But hey! I would have picked up speed only if they showed some patience!! I have to say that they gave a delightfully dramatic read. I enjoyed listening and guessing the source of each message. Yes, that was the game! For every source cracked, I had to stick a little round picture of the Bee whose message it was. (How sweet!! And neat! And creative!)
(So many awesome words for me! Really?) I was supposed to be on cloud#9 but I could not relate with those words as most of them were just way too good for an ordinary person. I mean, a part of me wished for all of them to be true; but all I could agree with was that I write really, really long mails! But then beauty lies in the eyes of the beautiful beholders! I was happily soaked in a transient Utopian state where I was this awesome flawless person. Heavenly feelings!
There were loads of other things planned: one yummy ice-cream cake, awesome personalised gifts, impromptu portrait by Yesvanth, Anant’s speech, and then, over to me. “Me? This feels like a farewell but this is not my last visit and I am not into speeches like Anant”, I said. Anant assured that it was not a farewell but they wanted to do something. I was too overwhelmed to say all I could have said; except “this is one of the best bunch of people I have worked with and I love the magic you make here and how much that means to me. You guys are simply great. Thank you for all the love!!”
The amusement just went on as those little details of brilliant planning and execution trickled in during my journey back to Bangalore!! Each missing link that poured in made me go “aww!!”. Several little things falling into place. First, Bala started a long discussion with me the moment I entered Office to help the team prepare (that is when they were busy writing messages, cutting out pictures and chart paper). This did not feel odd since the size of my luggage sparks conversations all the time!! Moreover, for his stories from the Mountains, one can easily forgo any meeting! But, I felt a little something when he turned around to confirm with Jack if the Crossroad meeting had started when I began to go for it. “Why is he not letting me go”, I wondered. Feeler#1!
Then someone said that Crossroads meeting was cancelled, which was believable since Brijesh wasn’t there. I got a little upset because I rushed out of BVM School for this and I asked Jack why wasn’t there an update on WhatsApp. Jack (obviously!) didn’t say much except that, “I am sure you won’t be upset today.” Feeler #2! I could not connect Arvind’s “witnessing a remote spectacle remotely” in his Daily Plan till Jayshree pointed out. That won’t count as a feeler, even though I asked him what it meant.
All this brought loads of happiness and filled my heart with love for everyone – Jack, Sharanya, Nikhil, Anant and everyone – who so carefully, thoughtfully and meticulously put it all together for someone who stays so far away. Most importantly, I felt grateful for Arvind and missed his presence even more when I learnt he was behind all this; and for Jayashree for a perfect execution. There is just no limit to how amazing they can be!! I so wished Arvind was there to witness his spectacle up close :)!
I stayed in a state of euphoria for a long time afterwards – those moments just kept flashing over and over again!! Ashish knew I was not with him and his constant reminders the next day – “hey! We are doing some serious packing the house here…can you come out of your Euphoria and concentrate?” – were FUTILE. (In my defense, I had done all groundwork beforehand !!!)
I am going to miss you guys!! Thank you for such wonderful memories and so much love.