He was staring at the huge rectangular glow sign board above the gate. "Head Post Office, Solapur" was flashing in white with red back ground. He knew in another couple of hours the lightings would go off but he was not sure weather his goal would be accomplished. After all Mr.Asthagi didn’t sound very convincing on the phone. Nevertheless the need was immediate and he had no choice as he started on this journey previous night. Throughout the journey he could hardly sleep. And the famed red bus and much feared roads didn’t help him either. But now he was just couple of hours away from his goal and once Mr Asthagi handed did his payment he would be returning back.
"but what if he dosent do the payment.. " "What if he does only partial payment...”
This was not the first time these thoughts occurred to him. They haunted him throughout the journey. But he had a gut feeling that his purpose of the journey would be served. He had lot of things back home to worry about. If mohan succeeded in doing his part of the task everything would fall in place.
"But what if he fails...”
These thoughts were haunting him. He shivered. The chilled morning breeze was blowing. He checked his watch. It was 4.45 am. Another 2 hours and 15 minutes to go. He put his right hand inside top pocket and took out a white little box. He picked a stick from it and placed between his lips. He then remembered he had thrown the empty match box long back. He looked around and saw a small "Gaadi wala Dukan" at the other end of the road. He started walking towards it hoping to find some tea as well to help him cope with the morning breeze.
"Have you tried all the contact?" Raj asked.
"Yes. No use. None of them will help you out. I had been telling you not to entertain such idiots...." Mohan frowned
"Dont start it again. If they dont let them not. I can solve my problems. And if you are not with me i dont have any issues..." Raj replied.
"But.." Mohan tired to interrupt.
"...Nothing is impossible for me and i will come out of this. No matter what." Raj continued.
There was a silence in the room. Raj was looking out of the window. Mohan was sitting in the chair his head covered between two hands and his elbows on the table.
"When they want it?" Raj enquired.
"By evening of wednesday." Mohan said while relaxing back into his chair.
"Ok. Tell them it would be done."
"But how can we. Today is Monday and tomorrow is ganesh chaturthi and everyone will be on holiday." Mohan protested.
Raj now turned back, walked lazily towards his chair and sat in front of Mohan.
"Its difficult Raj. Anyways cant we take some more time. Meanwhile lets get the people from Bangalore to pay up for their bounced cheque."
"I dont think i want to take more time. I have always honored my words. Lets not waste time running behind Bangalore people. I have already tried and all their cells are not reachable. I doubt they have closed out. You can never really trust small MLM companies."
"You should have been careful in dealing with them. I always tell you..." Mohan stopped. He knew it was not the time to argue and in this situation arguing with Raj would make him nothing less than a beast.
"Forget it now. We wont get a single pie from them. But at the same time we cant dishonor our commitment. I will do something." Raj said with his eyes still closed.
"Do we really have to take such stress and pressure on ourselves? Come on raj. We very well know they will give you more time if you talk to them. Why dont you just do that. Its not possible always to maintain commitments and its not advisable. Why for gods sake you put yourselves and others under such stress. You are not god."
Raj opened his eyes and saw a expression of frustration and disgust on mohan's face.
"I am not god. But i always try to do what i can. And you know i don’t give it up easily." Raj said with a voice of authority.
"And if you feel stressed out you can leave. You can also go and start preparations for ganesh chathurthi. As I said. I can handle this." He was now leaning on to the table and staring straight into mohan's eyes.
Mohan could not take this. He rose and walked out. As he neared the door he stopped and turned around. "I am going to belgaum tomorrow morning. Will be back by afternoon. I had contacted Aishwarya Marketing as you said and they have called me tomorrow. But still i dont have any hopes."
"Thanks. I have hopes. I knew it would work." Raj said with a smile on his face.
"But still it would be half. The other half is upto you. I dont want to ask or advise you what to do. But once i finish my task from belgaum dont expect me to back you again." Mohan said and walked out slamming the door.
Raj knew Mohan very well. He was the only one he could count on at any given point of time. If everything goes according to plan his commitment would be honoured and again he would come triumph against his fight with life. How many times did circumstances challenge his ability to manage things. He had lost count. And people never understood why he wanted things done so immediately sometimes. Neither his parents nor his friends. Mohan was no exception.
Sound of the approaching train at the station near by brought back raj from his thoughts. He was holding empty tea glass in his hand. He checked his watch. It was 5.20 am. Suddenly the deserted road started filling up with people coming out of the station.
"Ek chai aur dena bhai mere..." He raised his empty glass and gestured at the tea wallah.
He thought of calling Mr.Asthagi and letting him know he was waiting. But hesitated. It was early morning and Mr.Asthagi would still be sleeping. He thought its better not to annoy Asthagi. Anyways he had promised to meet him at 7. Within minutes the road was empty again.
8 empty Tea glasses lay beside him on the bench. The sun was bright and once deserted road was full of people and vehicles zooming by. Raj was getting impatient and frustrated. He checked his watch again. 8.45 am. There was no sign of Mr Asthagi yet.
"I dont care if hes sleeping. He had promised 7 am and its already 8.45." he thought to himself and took out his cell. Meanwhile his cell came to life and "Rehna hai tere dile mein.." tune started off. It was mohan.
"Mohan! tell me. whats the news."
"I am leaving now. I just called up to know whats on your side. Did you get the payment?" Mohan enquired.
"No. I havent met him yet." Raj replied.
"I knew he would not turn up. You dont have his address as well. and today being holiday post office will be closed. what now?" Mohan sounded worried.
Raj was irritated, But it was a fact. All he had was Asthagi's cell number and nothing much. and he had forgotten that today was ganesh chaturthi. Not knowing what to say he replied
"I am sure he will come up. I will ring him now."
"What? You mean you haven’t called him till now? What have you been doing since 4. Dozed off??" Mohan was furious now.
"I thought not to disturb him." Raj said controlling his own anger.
"You are just impossible. You make us all stress it out here and now you don’t want disturb some ABC. I will never understand you." Mohan sounded very indifferent.
"Anyways i will call him up now. You finsish the task i have given you. As i said. I will be back with payment by evening. You need not worry." Raj raised his voice.
"You are not god."
"I amy not be. But i can handle it." Raj cut the cell.
Raj was furious, frustrated and irritated. He tookout the visiting card of Mr.Asthagi and dialed the number.
"Network busy!" Showed his cell.
He tried again.
"The subscriber you are trying to call is not reachable at the moment. Please try again after some time." The gentle female voice informed him.
"May be the signal is weak." He thought and tried again.
No matter how many times he tried the result was same.
For the first time in 4 years of handling tight situations and managing resources he was panicked. "May be this time destiny had different results. May be i will fail."
Raj's head was aching. He took out the little white box from his pocket. It was empty. He threw it away in frustration. He sat on the bench with his hands on his head.
My Mad Musings : Commitment – Part II
He had to act fast. Raj was not prepared for these sudden turn of events. He was feeling helpless. He could only hope everything goes fine at belgaum and some how Asthagi turns up to meet him. He checked his watch again. It was 10 am now. Then suddenly he remembered sonu. Sonu was sister in law of Asthagi and it was her who introduced Raj to Asthagi when Asthagi wanted a new software for management of accounts at post office. He made a call to sonu.
"Hi sonu.. Raj here.."
"Happy Ganesh chaturthi.." sonu interupted him before he could continue.
"hmm.. well not so happy ganesh chaturthi.. i need a favour.. i want Mr Asthagi's address.. i am in solapur now.."Raj said
"What are you doing in solapur. Thought you were in hubli."
"Will explain you later. i dont have much time. can you give me his address?"
"well ok. write it down."
As raj looked at the peice of paper in his had he felt elevated. Now he could reach Asthagi and he would be back soon.
"I am not god. But i can handle this." He said to himself.
He hired a auto, and handed over the address to driver. Driver considered it for a moment and said
"50 rupayee lagenge sir"
House was well built. The doors were well decorated. It was obvious that Asthagi and family were celebrating ganesh chathurthi with full fervor. He knocked the door and in few seconds it was answered by a young fair looking lady who was beaming with smile. He could hear laughter behind her. May be somebody had just finished a joke. He thought of his home. Everybody was celebrating the festival and he was wandering from place to place.
"Is Mr.Asthagi available. I am Raj from Hubli." Raj said.
"Oh. he is. Please come in." The lady welcomed him and rushed into a room near by.
As raj walked into the living room area he noticed small ganesh staute positioned on the right side wall of the room. By now even in his house ganesha would have been decorated and most probably magal pooje would have been taking place. He checked his watch. 10.45 am.
Meanwhile Asthagi walked into the room and welcomed Raj. After exchaning ganesh chaturthi wishes both of them took seat at nearby sofa.
"Mr.Asthagi. I had called you yesterday and was waiting for you since morning at head post office. As mentioned over the phone the need is urgent and i have to move today itself. I tried your cell but its not reachable." Raj started.
"Actually my cell got spoiled. my kid was playing with it yesterday..."
"But you had promised me you will meet me today. anyways so if you can do the payment i will move. i am sure you understand my emergency." Raj said knowing he sounded bit harsh. But he had lot of things to worry about.
"Well i am sorry for that. Raj i will be able to just do half payment. You know because of these festivities i wasnt able to arrange the whole amount." Asthagi replied.
Raj was furious but did not expresess anything. Controlling his feelings he said "Fine. Not a problem. Remaining i assume you would pay by next week."
"I will try." Asthagi promised.
On his way back to Raj was thinking about the reamining half he had to adjust. He was expecting Asthagi and Belgaum clients to make full payment and they were his only hopes in the current situation. He was running out of time. He checked his watch. 11.25 am.
While he was pondering over his next step, his cell buzzed again. It was mohan.
"Yes mohan. What happened?" Raj was curios.
"I had told you..."
"Now dont start it for gods sake. Just give me the result." Raj shouted back.
"Right then. Half payment done. What next?"
Raj didnt have the answer. He needed some time to think. "Call you back. Dont leave belgaum yet." That was all he could say.
Raj was thinking fast. "What next?" seemed to be a big question, answer for which was hard to get.
At the solapur bus stand Raj saw a bus that was leaving to Sangli. Suddenly something flashed in his mind. "Golden Business Club" He uttered. He immediately dialled mohan and asked his to proceed to sangli.
"But have you spoken to them? Without talking to them i dont want to go. Better i get back to hubli and try something there." Mohan protested.
Raj was sure something would be done at sangli. "I will talk to them. You catch the next bus and be in sangli by evening." Raj said.
"Whatever. For the final time anyways." Mohan scrowled and cut off.
Raj was thinking hard. "What next? What about another half?" He was repeating to himself. He absent mindedly boarded bijapur bus. As he made himself comfortable in the corner seat he remembered something. He hurriedly got off the bijapur bus and ran towards other side of the bus stand. He saw Raichur bus leaving , chased it and finally boarded it. Inside the bus he made a call Jagdeesh.
He was again greeted with "Happy ganesh chathurthi."
"Forget it jagdeesh. You know you owe me a lot and you accept it right." Raj sounded arrogant.
"Yes ofcourse Raj, whatever i am its cause of you. What can i do for you. Just tell me." Jagdeesh was perturbed by Raj's sudden attitude but somehow managed to suppress his shock.
"I am already in the bus comming to raichur. Meanwhile i dont bother what you do. But i need 28 thousands to be ready. Can you do it?"
"28 Thousands. I mean its not possible in 7 hours Raj. Hope you understand." Jagdeesh couldnot suppress his shock anymore.
"Its possible dear. And you know me very well. If you can not do it you know what next. And i suppose you dont want that. Right?"
"are you threatening me? What has happened to you?"
"Yes i am threatening. I cant dishonour my commitment and for that i can do anything. Well if not possible by you be clear. Mohan is in sangli and he can always take a bus to raichur and not to mention Aravind,Ganesh were searching for you in hubli. I have their numbers."
"I will try my best. But really dont expect it to be ready by the time you land here. I need some time."
"You have 7 hours and i guess thats a lot of time considering that now you have started your own MLM and being ganesh chathurthi you have enough forms filled up. Happy ganesh chathurthi."
Raj cut off the cell convinced. He knew jagdeesh can not afford to let mohan,aravind and ganesh know he was in raichur. Raj had always supported jagdeesh and now he knew why. Raj had developed and maintained contacts with all and sundry and this was the time he would use it. Raj felt proud of his long sightedness.
My Mad Musings: Commitment III
As raj alighted from the bus, he saw jagdeesh standing near the bakery at the other end of the platform. It seemed as if he had been waiting there since long time. His expressions were mix of anxiety,shock and fear. Raj checked his watch. It was 7 pm.
Raj and Jagdeesh were seated on a table facing each other. The bar was dimly lit.
"What for you?" Jagdeesh asked Ram meanwhile making a hand gesture to call the waiter.
"Nothing. I have to move. What time is the bus to hubli?" Raj was stonefaced.
"Its at 9. You will be in Hubli by 5 in the morning. I still dont understand why you need money so urgently. Anyways i have done my part. "
Meanwhile waiter had approached the table. "Peg bottle XXX Rum and Coke" Jagdeesh placed the order.
Both of them finished their dinner and headed back to bus stand. Raj went and occupied a window seat and jagdeesh was standing outside.
"So now i am safe. Right?" Jagdeesh asked Raj. Raj's threat was still in his mind and Raj now wondered weather that was the reason why Jagdeesh gulped more than Two Quarters starting from peg bottle.
"Well, for now. Who has seen the future. But you are free from my side. I have released you from my debts." Raj assured him and before jagdeesh could express his gratitude bus was on move. As the cold night breeae crossed his face he thought of his last 24 hours. They had been dramatic enough. He was sure all the way the his commitment wouldn’t fail but somehow every time circumstances had challenged his belief. He smiled. He was about to win his war again. Again he was set to prove he can do anything. Enjoying his success he closed his eyes and was instantly lost in dreams.
As Raj and Mohan climbed the stairs, there was something that was bothering Raj. He seemed not sure. Mohan had thought of asking him during the ride but hesitated. Mohan failed to understand why Raj was still not happy even after achieving their goal. He seemed to be stressed still. On the second floor they walked into a office and were immediately greeted by the receptionist. She recognized Raj and said "Mr.Ali is waiting for you. Please go in."
Ali welcomed both of them and asked them to be seated.
After initial greetings and bit of casual talk Ali popped up the question. "So Raj. Have you bought the payment. You are known for your punctuality and commitments. Hope you live upto it." He let out a smile.
"Sorry Ali. I am not doing payment. But i have something else to offer." Raj said ignoring the shock on Mohan's face. He wanted to scream, shout and question Raj why he lied but controlled himself.
"Well Raj i didnt expect this. I thought you would.. anyways if have other plans then it must be better i believe. So whats that you offer me."
"I heared you are starting new business and i am sure you require a software for that"
"No i am not doing any new business. Why should i. I am fine with what is going on."
Raj relaxed himself on the chair and seemed calm compared to the Ali was now nervous. Raj knew very well that this sort of denial was first step at hiding the truth. He had enough experience in tackling these sort of people. Ali's expressions made Raj more confident and sure about his plan.
"Gouse from gangavati had called me few days back. It seems you are not dealing with their company anymore. Also Sanjay from belgaum They say you are not providing enough forms to White pearl. And i dont think you will be associated with Apna parivar of davengere."
All these companies were clients of Raj. He had provided software for them and the deal was arranged by Ali. And after nearly 8 months Ali had demanded his percentage eventhough nothing of this sort was discussed earlier. Raj was not surprised when Ali askd for commission. He was sure Ali would someday ask for a favour or something else. When raj was under financial loss and faced instability Ali had asked Raj. The timing could not have been worse. But Raj had to keep his commitment.
While returning back from raichur it suddenly struck him that why was ali wanted his commision now. Only few days back he had stopped giving business to all these three companies as reported to him by his other contacts. It was also rumoured that ali was touring coimbatore and chennai with a group of people well known in the MLM business circle as biggest company hoopers. Ali had recently opened the office. The he knew why ali was so much intrested in Raj's commission suddenly.
It was quite clear. If raj failed to give payment Ali would ask Raj to supply him with the address and contact number of all the distributors of these three companies. If Raj did the payment then ali would not be able to ask any favour from Raj again in the future. And worst part was Raj would come in the loop and may lose his clients for being associated with Ali. Ali could have highlighted that Raj was also involved in the business. This might have enhanced Ali's own profile by well known honesty of Raj. Thats the reason why Ali had been demanding payment so urgently. Raj had to think of outdoing Ali. And he madeup a plan. Now expressions on Ali's face proved he was on right track.
"I also heard that you are partnering Srinivasan from coimbatore . So i have a deal. You know how much i demand for the software. I will give software for free to you and would also offer free service for next 3 months. Your share of the previous deals is worth the software. How about that?"
Ali knew he was cornered. He didnot have any choice. He knew he had to take software from Raj. Infact he had assured to his prospective distributors that Raj was supplying the software. The kind of business these people were involved was totally dependent on proper functioning of the software. A single mistake could lead to a great financial loss and at the same time they needed enough flexibility to change the commision structure and downline trees as and when they whished without causing others to know. And Raj's software was the most trusted one.
"Hmmm... Nice offer. I didnt think about it." Both of them knew ali was lying. "Anyways i need the software. I will let you know when srinivasan is back."
"Fine then. Give me a call when its decided. I am going to dharwad. So have to leave now." Raj stood up.
"Sure. Dont tell about this to anybody. Ok." Ali was worried.
"You have my word." Raj said. Raj and mohan got out of the office. There the receptionist was busy with her computer. Raj smiled at her and just said "Thanks. I owe you this."
She just smiled back. Mohan who was looking at all this was very much confused. How could Raj make them run around to arrange money and then lie. Why he was thanking the receptionist. He looked at Raj and said. "I can never understand you."
"Dont try. Because i can not myself." Raj said handing over the broucher of Ali's new company to him.
Raj and mohan were back at their office. Mohan had been questioning Raj through out the journey.
"Fine. I will explain to you. By agreeing to take my software Ali is trapped. I am giving him free service for three months. And any MLM business is at its peak for only 6 months from its inception. By giving free service i make sure the data of its distributors is in my hand. He will not be able to demand favour from us again in the future. If i had done payment he might have still used my software but would have told all the people that i was partner in the company. Thats bad for us. We have never been involved with our clients business and this MLM is dirty work. I would have lost credibility. It pays to be out of it and watch the game." Raj explained to Mohan.
"He can do that even now."
"No he cant. We have not paid him and there is no way he can say we are part of if. Because if i give him payment i wont give him software. Which will mean his distributors will doubt his integrity."
"What if he takes our software and then claims we are his partners."
"Yeah. He may do that. But the moment we know he is doing that our software will stop working. And then he will have to answer his distributors. People will question him why i have not supplied them software eventhough i am their partner"
"If he says you are out of the company due to some reason.?"
"He cant do even that. If i am out then people will obviously ask why i am out. and then I would have got ali cornered. So."
"But giving software for free what do we get?"
"Control over ali's business. Simple. And i am giving it for free. He will surely like it. And i know he is telling everybody that he is getting software from me and i am doing it with lot more features as i am ali's very good friend." Raj was laughing.
"But then how do you plan all this. Who gave you the information he was planning new company."
"I have seen him talking to srinivas lot of times. I checked his data on all the three companies and he has litreally stopped giving them business. First i thought he was going out of this business and may be concentrating on his original family business. Then Rajshri called me to ask about the payment today morning. I casually asked whats the purpose of new office and she told me about Ali's new business plan with srinivasan."
"Who is this Rajashri?... wait that receptionist??" Mohan was excited now.
"You somehow manage things. From where the hell do you come out with things like this. You seem to be destiny's child. But again be careful Raj. Everyday is not sunday."
"But Mohan, You know what. You say i am not god. Today i declare i am God. Aham Brahmasmi. God unto myself"