Dec 23, 2008

Episode THIR13EN

If you are new to this story, do not start here. Go to the Index and Introduction page.

'I'd like to make an offer to you - to join our franchise as a player for one season'
Warney was shocked. This was beyond his dreams, and he didn't know how to react. 'Thank you,  sir. That's very flattering, but I'm not sure I'd be able to take it up.'
'Well, I'm well-settled in my job and quite happy. I'm not sure I'd want to take such a drastic step as turning pro cricketer.'
'OK. For starters, I know banking can't be a very exciting job. You have great talent as a cricketer, and I can see you really enjoy playing. If I was in your position, I'd jump at the opportunity to turn pro.'
'A few years ago, I might have. But at 25, after having attended IIT and IIM, and being settled into this job - I think it's too late.'
'It isn't too late. You can train for a few months, and will be on the squad this coming summer. If you do well, you could even make the national team before you turn 30. Imagine the possibilities!'
'Yeah, it is very exciting, but too risky'
'We're offering you $30,000 for one season. And if you do well, there are no limits really, for the future.'
'30,000... that equals about Rs 15 Lakh, right? That's only a little higher than what I'm earning currently. And much riskier.'
'It's NOT a risk, Mr Bhatia. It is more than you are earning now. In the worst case - if you don't do well, you could go back to your banking job. With your qualifications, it wouldn't be difficult. And no one would mind having an employee with IPL experience on their resume!'

Deep was stumped. This guy was making sense. But he didn't feel comfortable.
'What makes you sure that I will do well? I've never played anywhere near that level.'
'Wrong! The L&T - A team is as good as some of the Ranji state teams. You've done quite well against them today. I've seen you throughout the tournament - you have a lot of natural talent, and a good cricketing head. With proper coaching and facilities that we provide - I know you'll develop into a very good cricketer.  Trust me, I know my job.'
'I don't know, sir. I'll think about it. Can you give me time till next Sunday? I have to think all possible consequences, and also discuss with my family and all.'
'Sure. We could up our offer to about $50,000 for one season - with some conditions. I look forward to signing you next Sunday.'

Warney smiled, and they parted.

Warney accepted the offer the following Sunday, after much deliberation and long discussions with Preeti, his parents, his good friends. All of them resisted the idea at first, but eventually accepted that there was little to lose, and a humongous potential upside. Shubh had made the decision easier by letting Warney know he could walk right back into his job if things didn't work out. That was, assuming Shubh was still around. Otherwise, Shubh would hire him wherever he was, and he was fairly sure ICICI's doors would also remain open. The contract was simple - 3 months rigorous training & coaching. And another 3 months of match-play. Warney's remuneration would vary between $30k and $50k - depending on how many matches he actually played, which in turn would depend on his performance. At the end of the season, the contract could be renewed if both parties so wished. Otherwise, he'd be released.

The biggest consequence - already - was winning over Preeti's dad. Over the past couple of months, Preeti and her mom had both been trying to convince him about the marriage proposal. Warney was intelligent, successful, from a respectable family, from the same community, and he and Preeti really loved and cared for each other. Everything that mattered was 'right'. He had almost relented, though he still wasn't too impressed by Warney's professional standing. The IPL offer had been the final straw. Now, he was convinced that his only daughter was going to be with someone truly special.

Warney and Preeti were going to Delhi a week later, and a meeting of both families was being arranged.
'Is the Hyatt impressive enough for your dad?'
'What for?'
'As a venue for the families to meet. Over dinner.'
'What for?'
'What for?! You know what for!'
'I don't.'
'Rishte ki baat karne.'
'Kaisa rishta?'
'Tumhara aur mera?!'
'I don't want an arranged marriage.'
'Arranged marriage? WTF? This is NOT an arranged marriage!'
'Looks like one. The families are meeting. No one has proposed to me.'

Now Warney understood what this was about. Ms. High Maintenance wanted him to do the proposal on-his-knees-with-a-ring and all.
'Ahh! You expect me to go on my knees and propose? Come on, that's unnecessarily dramatic.'
'I would call it romantic. It's neither dramatic nor unnecessary.'
'Fine, I'll do it.'
'Now what?'
'If you announce it first, and do it like a punishment, it's not right. You need to surprise me. And it'd better be nice.'
'Hmmm. OK. Dinner at the Oberoi tomorrow?'

They sat down at their table, at the hotel's famous Kandahar restaurant, and ordered drinks and starters. Soon, the waiter arrived with two glasses of Champagne and a chocolate cake. He placed the cake on the table. Preeti read it.
'Will you marry me?' 
'Yes.... Yes' (both options had small checkboxes next to them)
She smiled.

'Oh god! This is a tough choice!'
'I know. Tough to choose any one of those and let the other go.'
'It's more like a choice between the devil and the deep sea.'
'Well, the devil's right in front of you, and the deep sea right behind. Choose. Now!'
'Hmmm. The sea's murky and I don't know how to swim. The devil looks cute and has been nice to me. I think I'll go with the devil.'
'You won't regret it. You have the devil's word.... Also, the devil's reserved a room here for the night, should you choose him'
'Deep, are you nuts?'
'What? This is a special occasion. You wanted this.'
'I wanted a proposal, NOT a honeymoon. That's crazy. Please tell me you're kidding.'
'No, I'm not. I knew you'd protest, so I've already reserved it and the credit card's already been charged.'
'You're an idiot. What's the point? We're not gonna do anything we haven't done before.'
'We've never done it in 5-star luxury!'
'That's supposed to be AFTER the marriage, you moron. There's got to be something to look forward to.'
'Oh, there's plenty to look forward to later also. We're only getting started!'
'I surprised you today, didn't I? Just wait and watch'

She knew he had a point, so she let it go with a smile. They were about to dig into the cake, when they were startled by some loud explosions.

Deep turned to look at the restaurant door, where a young chap wearing Jeans and a sweatshirt was walking in, with a big-ass gun in his hand. What the Frag?! This had to be some sort of a joke, and it was a rather distasteful one for a place like this.

In a moment, Deep realized it wasn't a joke. The man fired, and Preeti was hit in the neck. She fell to the floor, with her neck bleeding badly. In a few seconds, he could see bleeding from her mouth, and her eyes were open and had a glazed look. She was... dead.

Deep went numb. He couldn't fathom what was goin on. This was a nightmare, and all happening too quickly for him. He felt something tear through his side. He felt intense pain, but his mind was numb. He then felt another shot through his ribs, and one through his right arm. He fell to the floor. 

As he was losing consciousness, his mind started playing tricks on him. Everything around him changed. He was standing at an airport. Some distance away, he saw Preeti. She was wearing blue denim capris, a pale pink tee, and sneakers, with rimless glasses. She was reading some novel.

She looked up from the book, and their eyes met. She smiled, and and held out both arms inviting him. Deep started walking towards her.

Then, everything started shaking like there was an earthquake. All the people around them disappeared. There was just Preeti. His vision was blurred, but he could make out that she was still smiling, and holding out open arms. He started running faster. With every step, things were blurring more and more. And then, everything dissolved into darkness.


  1. You killed preeti... you dog!!

  2. Wow... Look how disappointed we all are and they are just characters. Everyone who was there that evening also had a happy story which is why they were celebrating. You obviously shocked everyone the message is so well conveyed. Applaud!!!

  3. hahahahaha ... awesome

  4. D: You wanted sex and violence...
    LoM: u'r married. look around u. u r luckier than Warney. so jus shut the f up
    P: Thank you. For getting the point.
    B: WTF did u find funny, dude?!

  5. Hmmm...some parts of this story sound vaguely familiar...:)