Both of us worked on the same floor of the office, we were just an acquaintance. He would often pass from the alley in front of my cubicle, perhaps to fill in the bottle of water from nearby cooler after lunch. Most of time, I saw him as engrossed in deep thought, walking his head down and with slow speed. Sometimes, when he will raise his head and our eyes will meet, he will make sure to pass on a smile. As if trying to portray everything is OK, It looked like an ideal way to deal this people filled but lonely place. We never exchanged words, but still shared something that was beyond words. To me, it seems he was an introvert and just don’t like to talk much or maybe he has some health problem. Sometimes, I also see him at cafeteria alone sipping tea and engrossed in deep thought.
One day, I was at the cafeteria and had just picked my cup of coffee. I was looking for someone to sit with for another 10 min, it was already 4:15 pm and in next 15 minutes, I will need to get in a call. I saw him sitting alone on a table and decided to exchange some words with him. I went on to him said “hello” and asked “can I sit?”, he looked at me, gave a smile and nodded his head. After few sips, I asked his name. He said “Shyam”, sounded low as his persona, seems words doesn’t
come to him easily. I asked him again, which department he worked, he murmured “Database Support”. He didn’t ask me what was my name or where I worked. I sipped few more time from the cup and then it was time to go, so I excused myself to return back to my place.
Most of the days after lunch, I would sit back to my place rather than go for a small walk, workwise this a free time. Rather than surfing on the computer or doing some official work, I would use 10-15 min for making some origami models. This was a good way to take a break, break the thought patterns and do something constructive. There was a plethora of waste printed papers, same can be used to build some little origami models of flowers, animals etc. I would keep these models on the table near my computer or pin them up on the soft board of my cubicle.
One day, when I was pinning the origami model, Shyam was passing by. He gave a smile as usual but stopped this time to look curiously at the paper flower. I thought he may be interested in the model, so I gestured to him to have a look. He took it in hand and admired, I said “Keep it with you, it is a small gift”. And after that incidence, it was more often he would come to me and take that day’s origami model with him.
One day, I asked him what did he do with the models. Shyam replied he would present it to his wife. This started the topic of his family and I came to know about his situation. He came from a middle-class family and his was an arranged marriage. It has been almost of 4 years and they have not been able to extend the family.
His wife was a quiet woman and won’t speak much. I guess Shyam was not able to spend quality time at home due the work pressure and office timing. Shyam limited time and coupled with societal pressure, led to the state of depression for his wife. To make the environment cheerful, Shyam would take some savory or sweet while going home but that too now didn’t lift the mood of his wife. Shyam would now make a small story that he will present this origami model. This created a talking point for him to his wife with positive overtures, stories would be linked to the everyday office and traffic trails. I was moved, I could have never imagined a small gift could make a big difference.
On Monday, Shyam told me, he will not be present in the office for 2 weeks as they are traveling in coming weekend. He has promised his wife for a vacation this marriage anniversary, that was due for last 2 years. When I was at home, this thought was still lingering in the mind. Then it came to my mind an anniversary gift perhaps can make both of them smile. I picked my phone, I see a deal notification from the SNAPDEAL for the various books. I searched for a book on the Origami- a combo deal along with Origami paper, there was a good discount as well. I didn’t think twice, ordered it through phone on office address and went for a good night sleep.
Incidentally, I had to travel suddenly for official purpose. When I reached back it was almost 2-3 week I had met Shyam. This time meeting with Shyam was a different experience, he was filled with joy. He took my hand and said thank you. I said you are most welcome and asked him did he liked the origami book. He said it made his life, as his wife was using the same book to teach Origami models. She has started taking origami classses and is feeling contented to heart by interacting smaller kids. Spending time with kids and making some extra income has done wonders
This was indeed a touching moment for me, as a small gift gave me a good friend and made many problems go away.
If you enjoyed reading this story, there are few more that you may like, click here – Go to page with links to all short stories