The beep of a new mail alert on his laptop woke him up. He straightened himself in his office chair, the motion sensor detected the movement and the lights above his cubicle turned on as if a ghost were at play. His eyes were red and sore – burning from lack of sleep. He stretched himself in his office chair, moved his neck in circles trying to get rid of the sprain. The atmosphere was peaceful and yet it seemed to ring with an eerie silence, his stomach churned with hunger pangs from a week long prolonged starving, his face covered with beard. His body ached all over and his mind created havoc with a zillion different thoughts running in all different direction. He felt like screaming his heart out loud to doze all the thoughts running in his head, but his lungs would burst from the effort.
He let out a frantic prayer as he turned to check his mail. ‘You are fired’. The subject line of the mail made the content redundant. Surprisingly his mind calmed down, the zillion different thought vanished, for a moment he was filled with peace. A week long ordeal of alternating between not wanting to accept the eventuality had come to an end.
‘Thud’ the sound of a cricket ball smashing against his window pane suddenly brought him back into the world. He took a few minutes and then turned around in his bed, the dimming sun rays meant it was dusk. The last he remembered was coming from office and hitting his bed not realizing when he had fallen asleep. He went down to the dhaba at the corner of the road leading to his house, a first since he had moved into his house, generally he would order a pizza. Post his dinner he walked around the locality for the first time noticing things he didn’t have time for otherwise. It was surprising for he had been residing in this locality for 5 years.
Back home he switched on the tv and aimlessly switched through channels, the news channel popped up, running news at the bottom of the tv read… intelligence reports suggest the attack have been traced to….. He switched it off.
Not knowing what to do next he gazed across his room, on the far right corner was the notice board with all the important new clippings of the financial world, the forbes article, the baron top 10 picks, a poster of Warren Buffet. Below the notice board was the study desk with the laptop displaying the list of funds he managed, the American markets had just opened up, the ticker showed a downward arrow in a deep red color, MIO predicted a further downward trend.
Fortune is a flirt. A quarter earlier saw an invitation to a luncheon with the top brass of the firm and a week later a promotion and being asked to take full charge of the biggest trading fund of the firm to be run on MIO. MIO was the name given to software which Saurabh had built. Buzz had gotten around his office leading to the completion of the project, that he was building a software which had a ‘mind of its own’! Eventually on completion MIO was heralded to be one of the greatest discovery in the financial world. The software traded the market without any human input. It brought and sold everything from stock, bonds, futures and options and just about anything there was to buy and sell on its own by calculating the current trend patterns based on complex predictive algorithm. It had been so successful from the time that Saurabh had built it that the firm’s top brass thought it only fit to use it to their full advantage and crush their competitors who had to rely on mere mortal to place trades. The quarterly turnover had been phenomenal and saw a Most Valuable Employee Award being presented by the top board member. The award now sat besides the laptop. All this at just 30 years of age, anybody would have been jealous. He could not help but let a tear drop by from the corner of his eyes.
“It could have been much worse, you are still breathing” a voice ran inside his head. He had to agree with the voice.
The memory was fresh in his mind, late midnight on the fateful day he got a call, at first he couldn’t believe what he heard, it was too shocking to be true, two planes had crashed into the trade towers. The catastrophe brought with it a huge unsurmountable lose to human life, it also had its impact on the economy and the financial markets. Stocks brought by MIO plummeted to ground, the algorithm had indicated a prosperous surge in re-insurance, airline and tourism sector. 90% of the fund’s networth got invested in these sector, all of which plummeted to ground in the aftermath of 9/11.
A week back after all the deliberation back and forth he was given 7 days time to present a plan to set things right barring which he would be asked to leave. Saurabh tried his best to explain that a plane crashing through WTC was not something he could not have foreseen or have programmed into the software but nothing cut ice with the board members when faced with loses amounting to millions of dollars. In spite of the human side to the tragedy all that bothered the board was the deep red they were facing. He came to a realization how shallow the Street was.
“On the Street all that matters is the green buck”. The thought came ringing from deep inside his sub conscious, a deep agony erupted through his heart. He had been so hooked with getting MIO ready for the launch that he had totally forgotten her birthday. He had also forgotten the promise to make it up this time for the many times he had not been able to make it up. Rita had ended up with tears in her eyes. Being stood up alone in the hotel on her birthday, she made a decision to let him go. It was only late night on checking his mail did he remember her birthday, by then it was too late
To reach you in person is impossible. Thanks for making my birthday special. Its over Saurabh, don’t try to talk to me. Don’t bother me in office either. On the Street all that matters is the green buck.
Rita was his classmate at IIT Delhi and then at IIM A and now his colleague at the firm. She headed the firm’s vigilance department meant to keep an eye on the trading activities, lest the temptation of making a quick buck made employees cut corners. Ever since he had gotten hooked to creating MIO, he had been in his own world chasing the dream of making “The Money Machine”. For months he hadn’t made a phone call to family or friends. He felt sick at the realization that he had been chasing a mirage.
Her mobile rang, it was 2.30 in the night, she saw the name flashing and flung the mobile on the far side of the wall. On the other side he heard an abrupt end to the call. He called again only to hear the recorded message “the number you are trying to reach is switched off”.
I have lost my job, you would have heard about that at the firm by now. I am more saddened though for having lost you.
For months I have tried to apologize, what makes today different is I feel it truly from deep within my heart and soul.
Its only after losing, one knows the value of possessing
My hearts has cried in agony, while my eyes have kept dry
Not a moments time went by without you being remembered
I have loved you forever, and in your heart, you know this to be true
I am terribly sorry will you please give me another chance ?
The sky was turning bright, with the approaching dawn, the sun was all set to re capture his dominion. It was the umpteenth time he had redrafted the mail, writing and re writing, trying to find the right words which would convey, what he felt inside himself. Finally he hit the enter button
The ring of the door bell woke him up. The watch informed it to be late in the evening, he froze on answering the door. She stood their, her eyes red and filled with tears. His heart galloped at a rapid pace, he wondered whether it was just a dream, should he apologize, should he say something ? should he ask her why she was crying ?. He decided to keep still for what seemed to be an eternity.
“You stink” she said .
Those words weighed heavy on his heart. “I know, I am terribly sorr..”
“I meant you should have a bath, you are stinking” she cut him short and stepped into the house.
He wanted to pump his fist in the air, do a little jig, she had walked into his house.
“Pizza for dinner ?” Rita quipped
“Yes that would be good. Order while I have a bath” he said pointing towards the phone.
The pizza arrived thirty minutes later and they sat down on the couch in the hall. He decided being silent and nibbling on his pizza was a safe bet.
“So what plans for the future? Have you tried applying some place else” she asked, wanting to start a conversation
“Oh ! Well I haven’t really thought about that, plus who is gone hire a guy who just lost a fortune for his firm ?”
“Why don’t you re write the MIO program and sell it ? It was good. What happened was certainly not because of a flaw in your program”
“Try explaining that to the board” he sighed a relief. Somebody agreed that it wasn’t his fault.
“Anyway, I couldn’t do that even if I wished too. I sold the IP and code to the firm”. For a moment he paused, his mind racing through all the effort he had spent in getting MIO up and running
“I did make a killing in the deal ! “ he let a smile
“Though I lost a more precious thing” he knew he had to bring it up sometime. He gazed in her eyes as he said it
Tears rolled down her eyes immediately, she kept the pizza in her hand back on the plate and tried to compose herself
“I am sorry I didn’t mean to hurt you. I was just … just..” he didn’t know what to say
“I have loved you forever, and in your heart, you know this to be true.. You should become a poet you could make a killing writing poems” she said. She wiped of the tears in her eyes. Her eyes still reflected the pain, her face gave out a hint of anger, slowly the expression on her face changed. She let out a weak smile and his heart knew no bounds.
“Its 8 I should get going. I have to be in early tommorow morning” she said.
He looked at her for a moment wishing she do stay for some more time.
“Thanks for everything” he said, for lack on anything better that he could put forth.
“Why don’t you start a value fund yourself ? Like the guy over there ?” she said pointing towards Warren Buffet’s poster on his notice board.
“I just lost millions of dollars in the market. Who would invest in my fund ?”
“I would” she said with a smile on her face
The rest they say is history .. behind every successful man there is a woman !