“Achla, you do remember today is the D-day, don’t you?” Kalini asked her excitedly, practically bouncing up and down.
“Yeah, I do.” How could Achla forget this day when she had been waiting for it since last one month? And she hadn’t just “waited” for this day; she had practically started living for this day since last couple of weeks.
“So do you know at what time the results are going to be declared?” Kalini asked her.
“Nah, I didn’t even try for it. I knew you were going to apply and I don’t think I would have stood a chance against you. Just imagine! You, the project head of a 30-crore animation movie! How would you feel? And where are you going to treat me? I know we can go to…”
“Hang on. I still haven’t won, have I? I don’t want to count my chickens before they are hatched.”
“Oh, come on Achla. Don’t be a spoilsport. You know and I know that you are going to win. No need to be so modest about it. No one, and believe me, no one works harder and efficiently than you. Of course, this project is yours.”
“Well, you are forgetting Hardeep. He too has applied for it. He may very well get it as he’s senior than me.”
“What nonsense! Have you seen his cartoons? They look more like aliens. This movie requires creation of cute and cuddly characters, not nasty intruders from the other world.”
“Awww, that’s so sweet of you say so. Anyway, let’s wait for the actual results before jumping the gun.”
Kalini was so disgusted listening to Achla that she just threw up her hands. “God, nobody can beat you in pessimism. Mark my words, you are going to win. And as soon as the results are declared, I will be here like a shot to take a treat from you.”
Achla saw Kalini stomping away with a slight smile. She knew that most of the people thought she was depressive and a negative thinker; however, they couldn’t be more wrong. She was a dreamer at heart, and she always went through her life thinking that something good was just waiting around the corner for her. It’s another matter that that “something good” seemed to be running away from her.
Giving a deep sigh, she lounged back in her chair. She still clearly remembered that day when she had moved out of her parents’ home. Both of her parents were scientists and they had wanted her only child to be a scientist too. They had wanted her to study genes that precipitated Alzheimer’s disease. They both were studying it since last 20 years without success. They wanted their daughter to join them to expand the team. For them, saving the world was more important than their only daughter’s happiness.
Right from the childhood, they trained Achla to think clinically. She was made to join advanced Math and Science classes when she was in the first grade. When other girls of her age received dolls as birthday gifts, she received William Dunham’s Journey through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics as a gift. She had hated it, and when she had told the same thing to her parents, they gave her a lecture about how many people were out there in the world that went without food, clothes and shelter. They even took her to slums to show how the under-privileged children lived. They did everything to make her ashamed of her behavior. And they succeeded. In fact, they succeeded so well that Achla never ever said a word of her wants, dreams and goals.
Achla completed B.Sc., M.Sc. and P.H.D. with gold medals. She even interned at Globus Corp., a giant medical think tank involved in finding cures for rare diseases such as Spontaneous human combustion, for two years. But she couldn’t settle down. In her spare time she had started sketching cartoons. She found respite there from the drab life at the lab, a solace in the act of drawing cartoons. With the passage of time, cartoons became much more than that. They started speaking with her. They started playing in her mind. They didn’t let her sleep. They kept her awake at nights so that they can entertain her.
Within a year, Achla reached the stage where she couldn’t face another day at lab. She wanted her cartoons. She didn’t want to look at the sterile glass tubes; she wanted to look at the vibrant hues of her cartoon friends. She quit. Her parents were outraged. She was given an ultimatum: either her parents and a job at Globus Corp., or her cartoons. She choose the latter. She had to move out; she was left without a home. She dipped into her savings and moved into a 1 BHK house in a downtown area.
Thankfully her cartoons were good enough to land her a job at Zinc Inc., a prestigious web design company that specialized in making animated movies. She started at the lowest level because she didn’t have any formal training like other employees. Her doctorate in biogenesis was useless over there. She slogged for 2 years: learning each and every software that made her cartoons more adorable, more lively.
She had got brains along with creativity. She started moving up the ladder. When last month Dhiraj Shekar, the creative head, had announced the opening of a new position for the project manager, Achla had dared to apply for it. She hoped to win that. She wanted to meet her parents once; she hadn’t met them in last 3 years. But she didn’t want to meet them as a loser. She wanted to meet them as a capable individual.
“Achla!!!!!” Kalini’s shout pulled her out of her reverie abruptly. From her lounging position, she jack-knifed into a straight sitting position. “What? What happened?”
Instead of answer her, Kalini pulled up Achla from the chair and hugged her. “You did it! You did it! You are the new project manager! Your promotion is formally announced. Check your email right now! Didn’t I tell you will do it? Yay! Party time!”
Even though Kalini was still hugging her and jumping, Achla started making plans for the evening, for the visit to her parents’ house.