Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Toilet Paper 2

Worked backwards, the numbers looked like this - three million dollars a month meant an average of hundred thousand a day, which spread over hundred outlets worked out to thousand dollars a day. With an average selling price of ten dollars, he would have to push more than a hundred quantities per outlet to make the numbers. That was, of course, assuming that he operated within the area norms that were set for each sales manager. Breaking the law would help him rope in another hundred customers at the very least. That made the equation a lot simpler. Fifty units per outlet seemed realistic given the daily demand of his product in the areas put together was definitely more than fifty.

Summarising the plan in a worksheet, Sachin saved the file on his desktop. Since his plan involved area encroachment, he didn’t think it wise to e-mail it to his boss. He wore a smile of satisfaction – satisfaction from his efforts and from his calculating and scheming mind. It was ten in the night. The day’s work was coming to a close. He planned a quick smoke before heading out to the parking lot towards his car.

Suddenly, his pocket vibrated. Sachin was happily distracted in his self-glory, and the vibration caught him unawares. His wife was calling him on his mobile phone.

Same old stuff – when are you coming back home, honey. I’ve been sitting around watching TV all alone, waiting for you to return. Dinner has been ready for the past hour or so, and we’re getting late….we hardly get time to talk Sachin, we haven’t even finished watching Slumdog Millionaire coz you’ve been so tired every time you come back home…blah..blah...blah.

On his way back home, he stopped by a twenty-four-seven supermarket outlet, and bought himself a packet of condoms. Evidently, sex remained important. Biological need. And perhaps a good release after a hard day’s work.

Back into the car, Sachin turned on the radio, and turned up the volume. He was typically Gen X, so he refrained from old forms of music, and was an ardent follower of hip-hop. And he liked them loud. Like most of his generation, Sachin belonged to that cohort that endorsed hard work and hard partying. Hard liquor. Hard women. Fast cars. But he always kept his priorities in place – his work was worship, he believed in fast organisational growth, he believed in cracking sales orders that others found difficult to, even if it meant servicing the market till the wee hours of the morning. And even at that hour, our Gen X protagonist had enough time to down a couple of beers, get that quick high and return home to wake up his mistress and knock her up.

Gen X. Generation X. Work hard, party hard.

Inside the car, the radio played back to back rap numbers with techno beats. Got the adrenaline rushing in Sachin’s body, and he pressed the accelerator harder. The songs ended and the radio aired an ad on Mother’s Day, and it spoke about special ways of greeting your mum.

It hit him suddenly. He had a mother! He had nearly forgotten…it must’ve been twenty days since he last exchanged words with her. She had called him in between but he was busy, and he didn’t find time since to call her back. This was well timed-this Mother’s Day. He thought of what he could do for her. He decided to spend five thousand rupees this time, just so that his mum knew how special she was to him. He was sure something good would come for that sum of money, and in any case, he would leave it to his wife to actually go shop and pick something up.

For the remaining part of his journey back home, he kept thinking about his sales plan. The promotion had better come this appraisal.

He turned the keys to his house, and entered it with dainty steps. The lights were out, and it seemed that his wife had reconciled to a night without dinner.

Emotional b****.

He opened the fridge and fixed something for himself. He didn’t want to wake her up, for this would mean an unnecessary resistance to him watching the repeat telecast of MTV’s latest reality show. What he really loved about the show was the aggression and attitude it portrayed. Women were swearing and scheming, men were shouting and flirting. Survival of the fittest. Sachin liked this kind of stuff. Like his other Gen X cohorts. He liked it when someone flipped the middle finger on national television – it demonstrated a new wave of courage and independence. In peace, he scooped up another episode of the reality show, and happily enough, his wife kept snoring in the other room.

He entered the bedroom. Slowly undressed and got on the bed. Climbed on top of his wife’s body and started kissing her gently.

“Not today please, I’m sleepy and I’m tired. You take so long these days, Sachin. I feel like spending some time with you in the evenings. Our marriage wasn’t meant to be like this, Sachin. "

Sachin looked at her from the corner of his eye. She could spend the rest of her life whining away. She simply didn’t belong to his generation.

“ Today was your mother’s birthday. Did you wish her? "

Sachin felt his brain freezing into a cold mass. He had forgotten his mother’s birthday. Despite God’s way of reminding him through the radio ad a few hours before, it didn’t register to Sachin that the day also happened to be one that he had celebrated with pomp for the first twenty odd years of his life. He used to be the first to wish his mum, and always made paper cards for her. Those cards had words like “ I love you Mummy” written on them. Even at eighteen, he brought home a big chocolate cake and arranged for fifty candles to be mounted on them. His mother would, almost always, work hard in the kitchen, preparing the most delicious of dishes for her Sachin. Even on her birthdays. Those birthdays were fun. Really were.

But all that was before he identified himself with this burgeoning generation of conscious career minded individuals. Before he joined Gen X.

It fittingly took the coward to arrange a few words to reply to his wife’s question.

“ I did call her, but her phone was not reachable. I felt miserable about not being able to wish her. Infact I was thinking of buying her a nice gift this time…I’ve kept aside five thousand…You know what, we can go back to the home furnishings shop…or wait, how about that sari you were telling me about…I think Mummy will love something of your choice………………..”

He kept talking. But his words didn’t reach his mother, who was fast asleep in another part of thr world, with moisture collecting on her cheeks.