This is a first-person narrative from the point of view of Anahita Sahani – the protagonist of High School Never Ends – a book my sister, Kritika, and I are working on. The story published here is based on the same characters, the timeline matches the events in the book, and the narrative style is exactly the same. However, these stories are in addition to what’s in the book, ergo, exclusive. 😛
May 10, 2014
Film City, Mumbai.
People moved around in a hurry, like doctors in the ER. There was urgency in their steps and no one had time to even look where they were going, let alone at each other. When I reached the set, I saw a tall, stout man pacing a few steps before pausing to inspect something only to start pacing again.
Damn, if Vikram is freaked out then this must be serious, I thought.
Vikram was the head of Production and the producer’s son, and therefore my boss. He wasn’t the kind of person who would overreact, and given the position he was at, it was very unlikely that someone like Jugnu could shake him up. Nope, something was up and it definitely wasn’t this emergency meeting.
Vikram Bhardwaj was in his forties, always clean-shaven but had a thick moustache over his lip and looked more Punjabi than anyone in my whole family, which is very much, totally Punjabi, by the way. He had a wide face that could go from friendly to you’re-in-trouble in half a second, but that’s more of a strength and a job requirement. He had a heavy voice that somehow sounded more soothing than rough. He was dignified and even when was reprimanding someone, he was never impolite if he could help it. In the last four and a half years that I had worked for him, I had rarely heard him abuse, and in the TV industry, that’s saying something.
I walked up to him to ask him what he thought was going to happen, when he said, “You’re almost thirty minutes late, Anahita.”
I didn’t want to argue.
“Erm, you know, traffic,” I blurted.
Yeah, right. At 8 AM. On a Saturday. Think before you lie, you idiot.
I mean, it was possible. Just not true.
“Are we on schedule?” Vikram asked. “Is everything in order?”
“Yes, and… yes,” I said. “Why do you think he’s called this meeting?”
“Wish I knew,” he said and walked off.
I marvelled at what a fantastic conversation that was. I had no idea what purpose that exchange served, but I was happy to go along with it, because what other choice did I have?
“You’re thirty minutes late,” Neel said walking up to me while he scrolled through something on his phone, his loose t-shirt hanging on him.
“Why does everyone keep saying that? Didn’t J say 9 AM? I’m thirty minutes early!”
“You haven’t seen your phone yet, have you? I sent you a message last night!”
I took my phone out and looked through my messages.
“Neel, 3 AM isn’t last night, it was THIS MORNING! Do you really expect me to read messages at that hour? And why the hell was this decision made at 3 AM?” I was surprised. “You were still here? And oh my god! I have GOT to leave ALL of these groups. Just look,” I showed him my phone. “How are people so chatty early in the morning?”
My father had just sent a new message to the group ‘Sahanis Rock’ and that it now had 168 unread messages.
“Vikram was here too,” Neel added as he dragged me aside. “He’s worried about something.”
“You know, I got that feeling too, but I don’t think Jugnu has the power or the clout to make Vikram uncomfortable,” I added.
“I agree. But that’s not why we stayed back yesterday. It was…” and he paused only to lower his voice, as if anyone was interested in overhearing our conversation, “…to go over some budget reports.”
“You think there are some financial issues?” I asked, surprised. Our show was doing so well.
“Well, Vikram wasn’t clear on that, but he just wanted to take a look at EVERYTHING we have here and wanted reports and statements and whatnot,” Neel told me. “He hasn’t gone home, and neither have I, by the way, since you didn’t notice.”
I looked at him and couldn’t tell the difference. All his T-shirts looked the same to me.
“If you’re referring to the one millimetre of extra stubble you think you’ve grown then no, I didn’t notice.”
“Ha ha! Very funny,” he shook his head.
“Do you think our show is going off the air? Is that why Jugnu called a meeting?” I asked.
“No, I think his meeting is just going to pile on to our troubles. But let’s get everything in order. Our jobs might be at stake.”
That ought to do it. I worked best when my ass was on fire.
It was going to be a long day.
To be continued.
This blog post is written for Blog Chatter’s AtoZ Blogging Challenge #BlogChatterA2Z