Less of driving more of expert manoeuvring through the traffic; Harry was on his way to work. It would take him another forty-five minutes to reach his office located in the center of the town. This was despite the fact that he had been driving for the past twenty minutes from his home which was well within the city limits! Harry was late to work.
The Spring season was over. Looking at the sky from his windscreen, Harry could see the harsh summer sun peeping from behind the white clouds; waiting to increase its heat to unbearable temperatures within weeks. The car air conditioning would soon become ineffective; his city had no beach and there was no family holiday planned for the summer. Harry was not looking forward to the days ahead; he was annoyed. It was anyway hard getting through a normal work day and the terrible hot weather made it worse. The morning rush to get ready on time and beat the snarling traffic; finding a suitable parking spot where his car wouldn’t get grazed by a bike or another car door; rushing to squeeze himself into the overfilled elevators which would take him up to his 13th floor office. It was getting to him now. Harry was disgusted, bored and quite fed up.
“It’s been over twenty-five years. Doing some crap job or another. It was okay when I was young. Climbing the ladder felt good. The new job I got, was always better than my previous one; the pay check fatter each time. It’s not that way anymore. I have been stuck on the same salary, the same designation and in the same organisation for nine years. Things are getting from bad to worse. My income stubbornly refuses to go up and the expenses defiantly refuse to come down!”
A loud honk from behind brought Harry out of his musings. He looked up at the rear-view mirror to see if an impatient motorist was trying to get past him or an accident had occurred. Multiple bumper to bumper collisions during peak times was a common sight. Thankfully, this time it was the former. A fellow agitated motorist. The real culprit though was the wrist watch. The clicking time was reminding everybody on the road that they were getting late and needed to get to work fast. Both motorists exchanged annoyed looks. They knew they were unwillingly bound together by the morning madness. Reaching office an hour later, Harry knew he would need to work longer today. He had to make up for the three times he had come in late this week. There was also the matter of the workload that had come his way; some of it not even a part of his job description!
Harry dropped himself into his chair and signalled to the office errand boy for a cup of tea. That third cup of tea in the morning was a necessity. It would work its magic and help Harry gear up for the long day ahead. His wife often admonished him for his need for tea. The first one in the morning when he woke up, the second which he drank on his way to work from his silver colored insulated mug and the third cup at office as he began his day. Harry couldn’t function without tea. He had reduced the number of cups to five and had the fourth cup of tea with a mid-morning cookie. The last most important cup of tea was sipped before he left the office, to help him stay awake at the wheel while he drove back home, through dense traffic after an exhausting and cumbersome day.
Harry stared back at the screen in quiet silence. He wanted to shout. He was tired. He was dejected. He felt tired already but the day had just begun. It looked long and gloomy. There was no excitement left, no new learning, no fresh opportunity. Nothing to look forward to. Just another day explaining the same things, writing the same emails, answering the same questions – all to the same people. Fighting the same battles. Again.
Countless emails had sprung up overnight like wild mushrooms; they stared at Harry from his computer screen. Each screaming for immediate attention like a ticking bomb ready to explode if not diffused immediately.
Are you coming for lunch?” asked his friendly colleague as he approached Harry’s desk. “Lunch? Already? What time is it?” Harry quizzed aloud while glancing at his watch. It was 2pm! The morning had miraculously passed. In a robotic manner Harry had gone through his emails – deleting some, answering many, saving a few for later in a multitude of folders and ignoring the rest. He had taken calls from those with questions (most of which he had already answered in the umpteen trainings he had given!) and again made follow up calls to those from whom he needed answers. Nodding in agreement, Harry carefully saved the presentation he had been working on and signed out of his computer. He picked up his lunch bag and headed towards the elevators with his colleague chatting about the weather. The café was on the 3rd floor. The lifts going down were as crowded as they had been in the morning on his way up. Harry squeezed himself into one again.
The small talk while having lunch with colleagues was a pleasant distraction for most people at work including Harry. The meaningless chit chat about politics, rising prices and plans to watch a movie based on a murder mystery over the weekend drew them all out from the monotony of the day. Harry was feeling relieved, he had just got some good news. He had invited a colleague and his wife for dinner over the weekend; the guests were now having to cancel due to an unscheduled visit from a relative. It would give Harry the perfect excuse to have a super lazy weekend where he would sleep, watch television, eat and sleep again. His wife would be annoyed though. She had already made the prep for two of the four dishes she was intending to serve at dinner. Anyway, she could always freeze it for later. Harry was happy. No agenda, no set program. Nothing. He had a free weekend to himself. A blissful weekend. The thought made him want to laugh and smile but he couldn’t in front of the invitees!
The day had thankfully come to an end. Time to leave. To brave the traffic again. The weekend was still a few days away; yet it was good to wrap up and head home. He would call his wife once he was in the car. The invention of the hands free calling system was the best one for safe driving. Harry’s wife refused to talk to him until she ascertained he was using it. It annoyed him when she reminded him but he loved the feeling of concern. It was a warming feeling. He needed it. It was the love that kept him going. That’s really all that mattered at the end of the day. It made the hardships bearable.
Knowing that his family adored him, was waiting for him to return home and looked forward to being with him, made Harry feel like a King.
An hour later Harry was finally home. There was an aroma oil burning somewhere in the house emitting an appealing lavender fragrance. After being stifled and cramped up in the car, it was liberating to inhale this fragrant air. It was refreshing. The house was warm and inviting. Harry was dead tired but the moment he entered his home, he felt alive again. He could hear the sound of the television. His two daughters, three years apart in age were watching Gossip Girls. The older one had informed him last evening that it was a “MUST” watch on Netflix. Harry wasn’t so sure. His wife waved to him from the kitchen. She was putting the finishing touches to dinner. Harry immensely enjoyed the food his wife cooked. They would all eat together as soon as Harry had a shower. Dinner was the only meal in the day the whole family could eat together. Everyone looked forward to it. The food was simple, delicious and light on the stomach. Grilled chicken, spiced baked potatoes, and Caesar salad. Good, hearty food; just what he needed. Harry gave his wife an appreciative smile. He really counted on her support.
Dinner was over, the children were now in bed; they had school in the morning. Harry sat in his living room on his favourite sofa. He enjoyed sipping a cup of green tea everyday after dinner while he chatted with his wife. She was telling him about what was happening at school and how he would need to schedule his work calendar and adjust the upcoming parents evening and sports day. The girls loved seeing their father at school events applauding them. Harry was happy to be there too. He was pleased with his children’s school. The fee was pretty high but it had a good education system in place. His girls were doing well and his wife liked the school. At least there was something that wasn’t making him feel depressed! It would soon be morning thought Harry gloomily. The rising sun would plunge him back into the never ending rat race. Harry did not want the night to end. He wanted to sit awhile and talk to his wife. Harry knew that he needed to catch as much sleep as he could to be able to go to work. He needed to go to bed.
Harry crawled into bed and pulled his blanket over himself. It was a large, soft one and years of usage had made it even softer. Under the blanket Harry felt he could take refuge from the world. It felt like a child’s cradle, in which his frayed nerves felt soothed. The blanket massaged his aching body, hid his many worries and cuddled him like a mother. It made him feel safe and calm; rested enough to take on the next hard day that lay ahead. This was the closure he needed at the end of each day. A familiar and welcoming feeling. The blanket was not expensive but for Harry it was invaluable. It was comfort.
Harrys Blanket was not just a simple blanket that kept him warm as he slept. It was more like a friend. He smiled to himself and gave his blanket a thank you pat.
Harry fell asleep thinking “Who says tough people don’t need softness in their lives? I sure do. We all do.”
Urvashi Kumar Trikha
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