The Epiphany of Cassandra


This post is written for the Indifiction Workshop. The Plot on which the story is based is by none other than The Fool, one of the most brilliant and eminent bloggers around, who writes at Lucifer House Inc. 

The post can also be read at The Epiphany of Cassandra

‘What on earth!’ murmured Meghna as she raised her head slowly from the pillow and looked through her messy hair towards the alarm clock on the bed side table. But that wasn’t making the intermittent buzzing sound that woke her up; irked she sat up tying her hair into a bun while her eyes caught the glimpse of her laptop at the far corner of her bed. She moved towards it and her screen was full of pop-ups from messages of her Role Playing Group Members. There was an abrupt glint in her eyes and suddenly all her siesta disappeared. She ran to the kitchen, grabbed a soda, took the laptop and sat on her study table. She was ready to reprise her role as Cassandra for her favourite Massive multi player online role playing game, Land of the Giants.

**************************************************
‘Darn it why can’t someone get a few decent hours of sleep!’ screamed Meghna as she woke up reluctantly and silenced the alarm which this time was indeed the cause of her broken slumber.

Meghna was the Vice President of GenX Telecom. An Alumna of Havard Business School, she was every bit of the go-getter that was required for anyone at her position to be. Such was her persona that she was called the ‘Conceited Dictator’ in hushed tones around office. And it wouldn’t be wrong to say that she held a very high opinion of herself. She was in her thirties, unmarried, tall, had black lustrous hair upto her waist, beautiful hazel coloured eyes and a stunning figure. The only thing perhaps missing was the warmth. But as she would have put it, she certainly wasn’t around to waste time spreading the mushy hullabaloo of love and kindliness around.

It was the time for the Quarterly Strategy Meet where Meghna was to apprise the Board Members and the CEO of the company. She walked into the conference room fifteen minutes earlier; ofcourse she had to. She was a control freak and everything had to be perfect.  Taking a chance was not her cup of tea.

As she connected her laptop and tried to turn on the projector, for some reason it just didn’t seem to work. There was some snag in the connection perhaps. Without wasting a moment she called on to her office IT technician, Arup. He was the go to guy for any IT related issues in the office.

Tall, welcoming, friendly, level headed, a favourite of the staff, Arup was in his early thirties as well. He was not only a pleasant bloke but equally good at his job too. Perhaps he could have been much more than what he was today, if it weren’t for the heap of responsibilities at home.

‘It’s about time. What took you so long?’ exclaimed an irritated and impatient Meghna.

‘Sorry Ma’am. I’ll fix the issue right away’ apologised Arup inspite of the fact that he reached there as soon as he could. Well within SLA as the IT guys would have put it.

‘Of course you will get it fixed right away! Hurry up, will you? The company honchos would walk in any moment and you can’t even get a projector connected on time. What do you even get paid for!’ fumed Meghna. It was very much like her. She was not only intolerant but never regarded anybody or anything important enough next to her.

‘There it’s done. Is there anything else I can help you with Ma’am?’ said Arup, as courteous as ever.

‘You wish! Now leave I have work to do unlike you.’ saying that Meghna turned toward her laptop to get everything set for the meet.

Arup left the room as always doing his job without showing any sign of irritation or frustration at Meghna’s behaviour. However just before he stepped out of the door, he turned back to look at Meghna. She was busy rehearsing some corporate jargon, when her eyes met his.

‘Go on. What are you waiting for? I don’t remember you being on the invite list!’ she chided him sarcastically.

‘I guess she really is overly conceited’ Arup murmured as he went out of the room.

It wasn’t the first time hence he was used to her tantrums, as some would call it. He had been in the company long enough to know how particular Meghna was about everything, to the point of being ruthless and brutal.

******************************************

It was late at night when Meghna reached home from work. She was exhausted; it had been a long day. All she wanted was to get some decent sleep, some rest. Just then she remembered that it was the time for ‘Land of the Giants’. Well it was one of the things for which she could forget everything. She could don the part of Cassandra anytime. It was an avenue to channel her assertive and often antagonistic nature. And like in her real life, she was a leader there too of a fragment within a clan.

But there was another reason as well for her attachment with the game, the leader of the clan to which Cassandra belonged was one Strider. He was the manifestation, though virtual, of everything she would want in a man. He was intelligent, strong and a leader. The way he managed the clan, his strategies left Meghna in awe of him. He was the first among the people around her whom she considered at par with herself. For some reason she was sure that not unlike her he too was some corporate big shot.

So the game began that night. Cassandra along with Strider and the soldiers of the clan were to launch an assault on the Dungeon of Death. It was where many from their clan were held prisoners. The Dungeon was surrounded by water on all sides with killer crocs on the prowl, guarded on the inside by ferocious dragons and ofcourse ruthless soldiers from their rival tribe. It was anything but easy but everything went like clockwork thanks to Strider’s meticulous planning and instructions. But it was a long draw for it lasted for the whole night. For some strange reason Cassandra or rather Meghna found herself attracted more and more towards Strider. In some corner of her heart, she harboured the desire to perhaps meet the real Strider one day.

They ransacked the dungeon, freed their clansmen and even captured the rival leader and took him captive. It was a successful mission but it was not until the wee hours of the morning that it all ended. In a few hours, Meghna had to be in office. As she lay down for a nap, all she could think of was the working of Strider’s mind.

***************************************************

It was going to be a long hard day at office. She was sleep deprived and was in a mood just to drag through the day. She sat at her desk yawning and finding it hard to concentrate.

‘I need coffee!’ she told herself.

She walked up to the Cafe Coffee Day outlet in office and grabbed a latte as she sat soaking in the sun trying her best to liven her up for the rest of the day. Suddenly she saw someone with a laptop having the Land of Giants game open, seated with his back towards her. She was curious and bent to catch a full glimpse of the screen.

It was indeed the game that she too loved. But who was this person she thought to herself. Was it someone from her clan? Or, was he from the rival clan? Was he a warrior or a War lord? Who was he? She tried to peek towards the bottom right corner of the screen where the player’s name would be mentioned. But that was hidden by his coffee mug and all she could see were the last two words ‘er’. Now that could be anybody she contemplated!

‘Oh well whatever!’ she thought.

Just then the man picked up the mug to take a sip out of it and there it was written with bold letters ‘Strider’. As her gaze stopped on the name, she felt a sudden surge of excitement.

‘I knew it. It had to be someone from the Corporate’ confessed elatedly. He looked every bit of what she had imagined atleast from behind. His shoulders were broad, he seemed well dressed, his long legs which couldn’t fit within the seat gave away the fact that he was really tall and ofcourse he was ‘Strider’ so he had to be superlatively intelligent.

‘Perhaps I should go and say hi’ she murmured to herself.

‘But what would I tell him. That hey I peeped into your system from behind and hey I am Cassandra. Nah’ she thought and got back to her latte.

But then deep in her heart she knew, that she would curse herself if she didn’t even make an effort to take a look at him. Atleast, she would know what he looked liked.

So she got up and walked past him and pretending to forget something turned back and caught a glimpse of her Strider. But she was in for a shock. The man was none other than Arup. Yes, certainly the very Arup she thought was a ne'er-do-well.

‘What Arup! That can’t be’ she thought but she had seen it with her own eyes. The profile name was that of Strider.

For a few moments she kept staring at him, when he suddenly looked up. The moment their eyes met, Meghna smiled unknowingly waving out to him. No sooner than she did that, she turned and walked back to her office.

Arup sat there and for a moment couldn’t fathom the change in her. ‘Weird Lady’ he thought and got back to his laptop and coffee.

Meghna, now in her office, was dumbstruck. The man she branded as an irrelevant part of the office infrastructure turned out to be the man she placed above all she had met till date.  As she was pondering on her discovery, a pop-up message appeared on her laptop. It was one of her colleagues and incidentally his status on the messenger was ‘Do not judge a book by its cover’. Well that was quite coincidental as she was thinking the same thing. It was not only Arup but every person she had met till date. She evaluated a person’s worth by his position and not by his abilities or behaviour.

‘How wrong was I?’ she asked herself when she received a mail form the IT services asking for feedback on Arup’s services on the previous day.

She smiled and said to her own self ‘Oh well it’s damn hard to admit, but I guess I was superficial all along in judging people. Am I really having an epiphany? I guess I am!’

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