The evening of December 19th. Around 9 pm. We were all on our terrace in Indiranagar, Bangalore having an INK holiday party. The railings around the balcony were decorated with lights, a large star hung from the Christmas tree naturally peeking into our balcony. The fake Christmas tree that I brought from home also claimed its spot in the corner with colorful lights, fake snow flakes and very real ornaments. At the center of the balcony, the DJ was playing music. Everyone had a beer or coke or water in their hands and we all feasted on very non Christmassy snacks from Adayar Anand Bhavan - muruku, spicy peanuts and the omnipresent potato chips.
Sushmita’s fiancé Gowtham was there being queried and put to test by the entire team. I think that he passed the test with his unbounded admiration for Sush. When Sush was up at the mike, a few notes with tasks were passed on to her by her Secret Santa and she was obliged to do what the notes said. She was asked to sing and she surprised everyone with a couple of numbers from “3 Idiots”. When she was asked to propose to someone other than Gowtham, she turned to Abhi and said “Abhi! Can you please do something for me all night?”, and before Abhi could jump with joy, she added, “please keep singing all night”. We all loved our Sush’s sense of humor.
|Sush & Gowtham|
Then, we had our secret santa presents exchange and had to guess who gave it to us. I was truly touched by how much thought and time went into each present that was given. After the exchange, we all gathered around to listen to Abhi singing while Harsh accompanied on guitar, in yet another display of surprise talent. With our alumni Anson, Nirupa and Sim, we are ready to launch the INK Band J. As our stomachs growled in anticipation of the pizza (yep! Another Christmas staple), the singing continued.
|Abhi & Sush|
|Abhi & Harsh|
|Vaibhav, Meghna & Sush|
|Swetha, Sush, Arnav & Harsh|
|Nandini, Arnav & Sush|
There was a moment, when the world stopped for me as I looked at all the young faces that surrounded me. Sush and Gowtham, starting a new life and would be off to USA; Vijji and her husband yet to have their first wedding anniversary, Swetha with her pregnancy bump entering a new phase of life; Vaibhav chatting with his friends who joined him at the party; Harsh and Abhi singing; Rajat sipping wine chatting with Divya; Dipti and Nikhil reconnecting with everyone; Nandini walking around making sure that everyone is taken care of; my son Arnav, Meghna, Praddy, Pranav, Godwin, Nischay, Yamuna, her friend, and all the others – spread across the balcony; Ranjit displaying his dance moves, and the rest of them talking to each other animatedly. We raised a toast to Anu, Elizabeth and Srimathi who weren't there.
I looked at each of them carrying their own dreams, desires and destiny. Each of them may move past INK for a different opportunity, better pay, relocation, marriage, a personal situation or whatever the reason may be. And I missed Sheena, Ram, Shalini, Anson, Deepti, Nemo, Erum, Sim, Nirupa, Priyanka, Nina and the entire NBO team – all those who were once a part of INK, now pursuing their own dreams and paths. I thought of our tough times, mistakes, upsets that we might have caused and all the things that I wish we could have done better. For a moment, I had a lump in my throat when I thought of all those who were part of INK and not with us today and also of all these youngsters who might be somewhere else and join us in the future. And then I realised that we all take a piece of INK with us as we write our futures apart or together. In that frozen moment, all I could see was a bunch of dreamers, idealists and nurturers taking a pause from their busy lives to just enjoy the moment. And in that moment, my upsets, regrets, fears disappeared and I let that still scene be stuck firm in my heart. I am truly blessed to be here… now.