I’d just finished the work my boss had assigned me to.
“I terribly miss you, sir… the newsroom isn’t the same without you in it now. Nobody yells at me anymore,” I said. He smiled and said, “Shall I ask your new boss to yell at you?”
“Oh, she does yell, sir. It’s just much different from what you used to do. And now, with her, it has been two editors who’s used the swear ‘fuck’ at me.” I break into a wide sheepish grin. He’s still just smiling.
I miss his dark bearded face and twinkling eyes, and a cabin that smells of stale cigarette breath. How can I tell him that? How can I tell him that without sounding like a crazy person?
I accompany a colleague on her cigarette breaks although I don’t smoke myself. I stand ten feet away from her lest the smoke go into my nose and choke me. But I go. Not because I want to watch her puffing out rings of smoke from the ice burst, but because her smoking spot is right behind his cabin.
As I stand there, ten feet away from her, I sneak a peek into the cabin through the blinds. There’s one crooked blind that provides a vision into his world. A world of stale cigarette breaths, newsroom talks, book discussions, yelling, and loads of editing.
“I don’t want to stay here anymore, sir. I want to leave this organisation. I started applying for jobs in January when I completed one year here. You came and you showed me what it meant to be a professional, to learn something, and work round the clock with not the slightest remorse,” I said.
“I got an offer from another company, sir. I wanted to go, it’s what I always wanted- to leave. But you were teaching me- all of us- and I was finally learning something after having wasted one whole year here. I wanted that. I declined their job offer,” I said.
“They called me again after a months time, you know? Mr M was shifted to the other edition from there by then…they called and offered me a job again. You were making me write, finally. After all those months of not doing anything, I was writing. I was surprised I remembered to write. You showed me how you edited copies. You had gotten inside my head. ‘is this how Ram sir would write a copy?’ I ask myself every single time I write.” I said.
He sat there smiling. As always. He smiles at me, his tall Lanky figure somehow uncomfortably seated at the desk with big notebooks acting as ladders for the desktop. I never understood what that mysterious smile meant.
“Why did you leave, sir? She’s good, of course. How can she not be! You chose her. But why did you leave? It’s unfair, sir. I’m sure you have your reasons and I probably am too immature to know or understand the reasons. But you left, sir,” I said, softly sobbing.
He sat there smiling. I missed how his silver gray hair looked when he was engrossed in work. He’d never know. I’d got out of the shower, softly sobbing. Warm tears run down my cold damp face. He’d never know the conversations I have in my head. He’d never know because these words will stay with me forever.