Ranjit was driving home on his Bajaj motorcycle. It had been a long day repairing computers in south-west Delhi. It wasn’t his job anymore to go fix faulty machines, but their chief repair person had gone to his village, leaving Ranjit as the only one capable enough for the job.
His uncle was kind enough to hire Ranjit after he had tried his luck getting into the Civil Services for two years. Ranjit had graduated as a Civil Engineer and he hadn’t the first clue about computers. He spent his early days driving his superior, the veteran computer mechanic Sikander Bhai, around town repairing computers and working as his understudy. It was after gaining enough experience over a year that Ranjit was promoted to Sales Head of the business, a post created especially for him. His uncle often remarked he was a civil servant as he helped people every day, but that was not the type of service Ranjit had in mind out for when he decided to try getting into the Civil Services. But at least he had work. So he didn’t mind.
What he did mind was the thunderous downpour that hindered his homeward journey. The rain attacked him head-on. When a few metres’ stretch of submerged road presented itself, Ranjit parked his bike under a tree.
He stood there observing the waterlogged road, although his plump baby face made passers-by think he was chided at work and was about to burst into tears. He rested his hands on his love handles and started watching the other two-wheelers make their way through the daunting road in a bid to mentally chalk out a route avoiding all potholes. If he wasn’t starving he wouldn’t have minded waiting the rain out under the Eucalyptus tree. He hated getting wet. But he was starving. He prayed God would show him the path in the form of a motorcyclist.
God did appear in the form of not one but two motorcyclists in as many minutes. But close on His heels was the Devil. He appeared in the form of a car that zipped right past Ranjit and sprayed water on him. It was more of a slap than a spray.
But that was Ranjit’s life.
When he did reach home he found a third person with his roommate. The guest said hello and licked his fingers, wiping them on his undersize green polo before holding out his hand in greeting. Ranjit looked at his glistening rice laden fingers. They were still orange with the chicken curry he was enjoying a moment earlier. Such was the intensity of Ranjit’s hunger that it was his stomach that returned the greeting.
“Come have a seat. I’ll heat some chicken for you,” said Vipin, his roommate. Ranjit put his bag down and sat at the chabudai. It was the only furniture they owned in their two-bedroom apartment. It dug into his not unnoticeable belly when he bent to eat. Even though it was just a few inches above the ground, it made a world of difference for Ranjit, for he wasn’t eating off the floor. The previous owner had left the table and a disco ball in a corner of the ceiling that coloured the small hall in a dim, royal blue hue. Vipin liked using it, but Ranjit insisted they rather use the fluorescent light, the only item they had installed.
Vipin was in his house attire: dark boxers with an unbuttoned shirt, showing his white tank top. The window at the far end of the room was wide open, letting in the energetic wind. His soft, curly hair fluttered with his red shirt printed with yellow gulmohar flowers.
“This is my friend Kunal,” Vipin called out standing next to the stove. His voice had gone awry on the road to puberty and didn’t match his muscular build or his chiselled features, just like Ranjit’s face didn’t match his name or heritage. It was the only thing the roommates had in common.
“Ranjit Chaudhary, nice to meet you,” said Ranjit, holding his left hand out. The guest nodded and smiled as his face was stuffed with food.
“Kunal is also part of a family run business,” said Vipin as he joined them with the heated curry.
“Oh?” said Ranjit, serving himself rice.
“Yeah, he is a Debugger,” said Vipin, nodding at him. Kunal chuckled at the remark while Ranjit raised his eyebrows.
“It seems we have quite a bit in common! I belong to the same field. I’m not a debugger per se, but I do work on computers,” said Ranjit, swallowing the rice from his hand. Kunal knit his brows and cast him a questioning look as he sucked the rice and curry mixture left over on his fingers.
“What is it that you do?” asked Kunal.
“I sell computers. Well, I don’t just sell them, I repair them as well.”
Kunal chuckled again and looked at Vipin. Ranjit felt belittled. “That doesn’t mean I’m a one-man business. No sir! It’s just that I’m sort of a jack of all trades,” he said, wearing a meek smile.
Kunal got up and walked over to the sink. “We’re not the same,” he said, turning his head slightly and washing his hands. Ranjit opened his mouth to say something but decided instead to fill it with rice. It wasn’t his nature to voice his opinions freely, especially in front of someone he’d just met.
His thoughts were interrupted by Kunal smacking his slippers on the floor. It made Ranjit jump, which in turn made the small table jump, though not very high, much to everyone’s relief. Kunal walked towards him looking at the underside of his slippers nonchalantly.
When he reached where they were sitting he produced a card, handing it over to Ranjit and pointing to the dead cockroach on his footwear. Ranjit eyed the dead bug that gave him a few angry fingers before Kunal flicked it off.
“I’m a DEBUGer,” he said before breaking into a laugh with Vipin. Ranjit looked at the card.
DEBUG – The Premier Pest Control Service of Delhi-NCR