By the next morning, Raj had reached Bangalore. He called up a number from the phone of another person. He had to make the call. It was important for his stay in Bangalore, at least for a while. He had many friends who got their jobs in big software companies that are located in Bangalore, and most of them are still there, if he was guessing right. He had been out of contact to almost everybody in the world, including his parents for almost a year. There was no way he could tell if his friend was in Bangalore or not. If he was not, then there was another few numbers that he would be calling. Hopefully, some of them would be in Bangalore. It was such a pleasant place. Compared to Hyderabad, the weather was more pleasant in Bangalore. But the traffic was worse. One could not cross the road safely at any time in Bangalore, such was the traffic. Standard of living was also more than what Hyderabad would have. Anything that costed about 100/- in Hyderabad would cost about 200/- to 300/- in Bangalore. Owing to the large number of IT companies in the city and the money they could make in this city, that would seem to be a smaller amount when the pay comes in. Hyderabad has lower standard of living, but it also has lesser salaries. If a person could make something that he would be making in Bangalore and live with a standard of living of Hyderabad was really lucky. He could splurge on stuff every day and still end up with a few bucks by the end of the month, when usually everyone would be lamenting their lack of money.
Raj had called up his friend Bhargav, who was working in a large MNC in Bangalore. They say that if you throw a stone in Bangalore, it is most likely that you would hit either a dog or an IT engineer. And most of the IT companies were large MNCs itself. Raj and Bhargav used to be colleagues at that company when he was working there. Raj had left due to the demons that entered his life. He never told about that to anyone. The only person who knows it was Srinivas. And that too, after he had questioned Raj one day. When Raj had expressed his desire of becoming one of the top people in a very big college, his dad had supported him. Then, when he got a really good placement in a large MNC, he had been on cloud nine. There was nothing that could make him happier. And as he thought that, Raj had come with a shock. He told his dad that he wants to move into the construction field. And that too, as a construction worker. Srinivas could have easily given a post similar to what he was doing in the MNC in his own company, but Raj was adamant. He wanted to be the construction worker. Srinivas didn’t understand why he was taking such a decision. One day, after six months, he had gathered the courage to ask his son what was the reason behind his decision of becoming a construction worker. And that day, he told him. Raj told him the reason and after a long time, Srinivas had seen Raj cry.
Luckily, for Raj, Bhargav was still in Bangalore, nonetheless, the same company too. He had been promoted to lead a small team of about 5 people, which was what Raj was doing when he left. Raj informed Bhargav that he would be at his place in about an hour or two and asked him for a place to crash. Bhargav told him the location where he was keeping the spare key to his apartment and told the watchman that Raj would be coming and he would leave a little early, if he could help it. Bhargav’s company had a strict policy on Work from Home (WFH). They can take a WFH, only if they are sick, or they are delayed in a project, when a project manager would send the request to the company’s head office, or when riots happen in the city and there was no other option that working from home to complete the project. As the case now was not one of the above three, he had to go to office. In a world where a company tries to make its employees work more than it pays them, by WFHs or over time in the company, it is kind of weird that Bhargav’s company doesn’t have such a rules.
Raj went to Bhargav’s place and got freshed up. He didn’t get a chance to get his clothes to the place, so he took a dress of Bhargav and wore that. His hands were burning, due to the blisters that had formed of the work yesterday. In the process of running away, he made them worse and they started bleeding now. He tied a cloth to it, to stop the bleeding after cleaning it with an antiseptic. He made some lunch for himself from the little food that he could find in Bhargav’s home. Bhargav was addicted to eating, and he liked to have a lot stocked up in his home. His earnings gave him way to do that relentlessly. Every week he spends about 2000/- just for the snacks that he eats during the time he is at home.
By evening, Bhargav had returned and was happy to see his friend, Raj, who went out of touch from everyone. Both of them were best buddies once, and he had stopped talking even to him. That enraged him once. He waited a long time for him to call or respond back to the calls that he made to him. Morning, when Raj called, he was surprised to hear a familiar voice from an unfamiliar number. After the call, he became excited. He was seeing his best bud after nearly a year. Or was it more?
“Hey Raj, how are you? Been a really long time” Bhargav has asked.
Right to the point. Don’t you have any other way to reach there? Like divert the topic towards lunch or dinner or something.
“I’ve been better. Yeah, it is a long time” Raj replied. He didn’t tell anyone he was a construction worker. And he had to tell that out someday, to someone, at least Bhargav. Bhargav had been with him since he knew him. Both of them were inseparable and hiding the truth from him was making Raj feel guilty.
“So, which company are you working for now? Or have you started your own company? I knew you would start your own company. Can I get a job there? Please? Pretty pleaseeeeee” Bhargav was gasping. He spoke with much excitement that Raj wondered that if he was a girl, he would have been all over him, doing stuff that right now, felt disturbing.
“’I haven’t started my own company dude. I am working in another company. It is Deepa Constructions Private Limited. I will tell you everything, but can we go for dinner? I am starving, dude. And it has been long since we went to the restaurant together. Let’s go out. “Raj replied. He still was thinking that he needs time to tell the entire truth. He was buying time just to frame the way he wanted the conversation to go.
In the restaurant that they called their hang out place, or adda, as they sweetly called it, they sat down to eat after ordering their food. It was the usual, roti with sabzi and some rice. After a long time, Raj was having a better meal that what he had in his hut in Hyderabad.
“So, you were saying about Deepa constructions dude. What about it?” Bhargav asked stuffing his mouth with as much sabzi as it could fit.
“It is a construction company dude. A small one. It is a small job” Raj replied. He knew that the time has come and he had to break it now.
“What exactly do you do there? Do you take bricks and walk to the top floor to give to the others?” Bhargav asked, jokingly. He laughed off, after he made the statement. He was not ready to face what the reply would be to the statement that he had made. No matter how humorous it was in his assumption, it became tragic as it hit Raj’s head.
“Yes. That’s my job. I am a construction worker” Raj replied. The cat is out of the box.
“What? Don’t kid me dude.” He replied. As Raj didn’t even smile, he understood that what he was saying was true and he in fact was a construction worker. He continued “Why have you become a construction worker?”. He almost choked on his food when Raj gave the reply.
“It is a long story” Raj replied.
“We have all the time in the world. Plus, it is the weekend tomorrow” Bhargav said. He wanted to know badly what happened with his friend and why did he go from being a team lead in a large MNC to becoming a construction worker. It was not a job that people chose, saying that it was their passion, or they found their calling in that. This usually didn’t come in the list. It never came in the list, not usually.
And Raj started narrating his story.
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