Husband produced two little pieces of paper from his wallet with a flourish and an enigmatic smile. VIP tickets for the IPL. Including food. His blessed boss, who the tickets originally belonged to, was called away on business on the day of the match. And hubby happened to be at the right place (in the boss’s cabin) at the right time (when the boss learned he wouldn’t be able to go for the match, and dejectedly pushed the tickets across the table to him). The boss also threw in the permission to leave work early that day, provided no deadlines were skipped.
I wouldn’t exactly call myself a cricket fanatic, but this I couldn’t miss. VIP seats. Including food. And whoever has been to the field even once would agree that the buzz at the field of action is infectious. You cannot not have fun; and very soon, you would hear yourself cheering hoarse.
I not only had a load of work marked for that day, but my team also had a meeting scheduled with the boss and his superior. I have often felt that I discovered the concept of ‘bad timing’; only forgot to patent it. This only confirmed it. I knew I had to act. And act I did.
The day before the match, after lunch, I put my head down on the desk when I saw my boss approaching out of the corner of my eye.
Hey, you OK? He asked, not really interested, but polite.
Yeah. Sorry. I mumbled, sitting up, my eyes painstakingly the right degree of droopy so as not to overdo it. I had let a few strands of hair out of my neat ponytail, smudged my eyeliner to spread below the eyes, and the lipstick was anyway gone with lunch; so I knew I was not exactly a picture of health and good spirits. Exactly the plan.
“You look…” He was toying with the idea of saying ‘awful’ but didn’t want to be rude. These days, you could never be sure what counted as harassment.
“I am fine,” I sighed. ‘You wanted me for something?”
“Yeah, well, this…,” and we talked shop for a while.
Next day, the day of the match, I wore zero makeup to work. Though I sprinted after buses as usual, as soon as I entered office, I became carefully sluggish. I sipped my coffee quietly at the team coffee break, not saying a word, sighed from time to time loudly enough for others around me to hear, and made a big show of dragging myself to the washroom and returning with a dripping face several times. The trump card was missing lunch.
“Hey, you don’t look good at all,” my boss finally said, getting over his inhibitions. “Are you sure you are Ok?”
“Ah, well, I don’t know. I have been feeling strange since yesterday. I thought it would go away over the night, but it seemed to have got worse.”
“I have a splitting headache. And I have these red rash like things on my arms… See?”
I pulled up my sleeves and showed him the week-old insect bites I got at my friend’s farmhouse. Instantly, he almost packed my bags for me and pushed me out the door, shushing my insistence that I didn’t want to miss the meeting.
“Take care,” he waved, before sprinting off to, I suspect, douse himself in disinfectant.
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