A Punch In The Lurch!


Shyam arrived unannounced, as usual. Ram got really annoyed that evening; he had an important task to accomplish, his son being away on a college excursion. “This fellow is incorrigible! We meet five days a week in office and yet he lands up almost every evening!’ Ram thought ruefully. “Perhaps…his bachelorhood, sealed by now, is the crux of the matter!” he added to kinda solace himself. His problem was accentuated, particularly because his wife and son loved passing time with Shyam. In fact, they expected Shyam’s company as often as possible.

Ram welcomed him, as always, and Shyam, entering with a yawn, sank lazily in the comfortable sofa. He started talking immediately; nothing of importance, as always. However, that evening Ram was determined not to entertain his visitor for long. Before his wife could emerge he went inside, and said, ‘Give him all the pastries, sweets, salted delicacies with the tea, so that he loses his appetite for supper…and leaves soon.” His wife smiled with a wink and agreed.

Snacks came, tea came; but the visitor seemed to be in no hurry to leave. Ram was fidgeting, getting impatient as the clock ticked on. He seemed to hear a pitiful moaning sound from their bedroom balcony which made him restless. In his family tradition Ram never learnt to be hostile to a guest, always entertaining them, often, in the process, missing or delaying important personal engagements. Besides, Shyam was a colleague and a good friend working in the same film production house.

As the clock struck eight Ram could withstand no more. He stood up.

“I’d rather take my doggie out for his customary evening stroll,’ he announced summarily.

Shyam looked up at him, a bit surprised, and said gravely, “If I were you, I’d rather sit down for some time.”

“What for?” Ram almost cried.

“Sit down first, dear friend. I have something important to tell you,” he waited for Ram to sit down. “Three days back you punched that guy, Ravi, you know...in office!”

Yes, Ram knew it very well, he broke his nose, and he had been bunking office since then. Ravi was an extremely lazy yet cunning and slippery fellow; he always thrived on trying to steal credit for others’ work, and knew how to oil his bosses. That day there was a crucial programme meeting with the regional boss, and all new ideas were on the agenda to brainstorm upon. For that purpose only, earlier, Ram called for a meeting with his colleagues presenting few of his own ideas for concurrence. It was a perfect rehearsal, and Ram had no reason to suspect anybody, even Ravi.

But everything went wrong in the regional meet for Ram. Immediately after the boss’s motivational speech Ravi started speaking presenting a series of innovative ideas as his own creative thoughts which, to Ram’s horror, were the ones discussed by him in the internal meeting, and, to heighten Ram’s horror-turning-to-fury, got tremendous appreciation from the boss. To control himself or rather to save himself Ram tried to put in, helplessly, “Yes sir, we discussed these ideas already. Actually...” he broke off knowing very well that anything he uttered in favor of himself would only project him as petty and envious. Therefore, after the meeting he simply went up to Ravi’s desk, punched him furiously on his nose and stomped out.

“...he threatened you that he would lodge a police complaint, no?” Shyam continued, “but instead, with a bleeding nose, he went to the hospital, and then home to consult his wife before taking any legal action. At the sight of his bandaged nose his wife went into hysterics. She was uncontrollably happy that someone had done what she could never ever have accomplished herself. And how she wanted him to have it…somehow! She felt like an avenging angel, as it were. But then, surprise of surprises! She started taking very good care of him, so much so that their eternally strained married life became healthy and joyous… And my friend, I’m carrying Ravi’s compliments for you this evening. He is so grateful for your resounding punch; a game changer, I say!”

Ram couldn’t react at all for some time, sitting as if transfixed. Then he started laughing, in short bursts of breathless guffaws.

“Enjoy your moment with your wife, pal!” Shyam put in happily. “Let me take out your doggie tonight, it’s my pleasure, entirely!” he went inside and fetched the chained pet, its pitiful moaning now giving way to joyful crooning. At the door he turned around again and said to Ram, “In the meantime boss came to know fully what’s what! So, you can join office tomorrow without fear!”

Still laughing, Ram cried out, “No problem, buddy. Thanks. Come back and have supper with us!”

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