The Anger Bar

Episode 1 | Read time : 14 mins

An office cubicle somewhere in Powai, Mumbai

He was sitting there for the past 10 hours, at the rate at which his work was going, he would have to sit for another 10 or 12 maybe. He stood up and noticed that everyone had already left, there were no lights on the entire floor except his bright LED monitor.

“FUCK!”, he screamed in anger, his whole body shook up with the boiling hot feeling, he picked up his empty coffee mug which was branded with a slogan “I hardly work” and smashed it against the concrete column. And in an instant he was calm, he exhaled loudly and proceeded to pick up the broken shards of ceramic.

Earlier that day…

Pankaj Sinha was the Senior Manager in The People HR Company. The People was a prime service provider in the business of Human Resources. They collaborated with many multinational companies and provided the staff to handle the employees. Today Pankaj was on the research floor, it dealt with Research and Development in human psychology which was then trickled down to be brought into use when dealing with actual employees. The R&D team was the most coveted in The People and was the brainchild of Pankaj and he took immense pride in its growth from a 5 member team to 125 members strong team in a time of 3 years. Pankaj had himself recruited almost all of these members and was on a first-name basis with them, and the only person he actually despised was Dheeraj.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, today I am here to announce the Top People Award in Innovation in Research & Development. Before I announce the winner, I will call out the names that made it to the shortlist. The first name is Dr. Wadhwa, for his lie-detecting survey, the survey has been brought in front of our Board of Directors and Technical specialists and is being reviewed to be brought into practice”, there was a round of applause as a stout Dr. Wadhwa beamed and waved to the entire floor, “the next one is Mrs. Lata Joshi, Lata has been working with us since the very beginning and has now led several projects and scaled up almost 50 of you guys in this research wing, her latest project on Rolling Vacation plan has also made it to the Board…”, a short woman waved at the floor while people standing next to her shook her hands, “the next one is Dheeraj Purohit”, Pankaj’s mouth twitched as he said his name, “Dheeraj has been a great asset and has kicked off the Human Behavior Team with 5 other members after the Board allowed his pet project of Body Language studies to be kicked off..”, the applause wasn’t that resounding as the first two times, and Pankaj cut off the applause in between, “and the winner is, hold your horses for this one, the winner is… Vishakha Patni!!!” enormous applause sounded through the entire floor, Pankaj was shouting on top of his voice while the applause continued, “she gets the award for being the youngest team member whose idea of Paid Vacation and Unpaid Work has been approved by the Board!”

Dheeraj swore under his breath, “How did that bitch manage to get her idea approved?”

“Now don’t get worked up, she must have slept with the Board Members…” Sohail added to cheer up Dheeraj, “Ahh shut the fuck up Sohail… You always have to think of perverted stuff?”

“Woah! Come on… She is sly, you never know…”

“Look at her Sohail, she is 24, her pupils are not dilated and her skin has blushed because of all the people congratulating her, she is honestly surprised. She didn’t know she was going to win this. Now look at Pankaj, he has a smirk on his face, which he is trying to show off as a happy smile, something is going on his head, I bet he is after this, I was a clear winner, The People is the only HR Company with a Human Behavior Study Team, the others won’t even have such a team for the next 10 years.”

Dheeraj saw Pankaj coming up to him, “I hate that smirk on his face”, he thought. “Tough luck, Dheeraj my boy, the Board was very convinced with Vishakha’s trial implementation, meanwhile I have some bad news for your team, the Board is going to review the work of your team this Friday, they want a report and presentations on what are they funding for this whole year.”

Dheeraj was flabbergasted, “Pankaj… I mean Sir… It is impossible, we have some really brilliant ideas, but Friday, Sir can’t do this… We need a couple of weeks… 10 days…”

“Friday means Friday, my dear boy, Sorry I can’t help you here…” Pankaj cut him off with a smirk. He then saw Dr.Wadhwa and started walking in his direction.

Dheeraj stood there rooted, his mind numbed with the anger which was searing through his body. So Pankaj had made it his personal ambition that his team was shut down. He had never liked him ever since his interview with The People. He was dragged back to work by Sohail.

Dheeraj’s senses came back as a ceramic shard pierced through his thumb. The pain took over the residual anger. He had 3 days to save his job. Sohail and his team had left for the day. He had no idea how he was going to pull this off. Every time he thought of Pankaj, his body seemed to be taken over by red hot anger and the only way he could let it off was physically damaging something. In the past 5 hours, he had broken a pencil into two halves, removed the handle of his seat, and broken a ceramic coffee mug. The anger was blinding, like a demon possessing him, it was as if he had infinite strength to break or damage anything he wanted. “It’s just a phase, it will pass.” he thought, throwing the shards in the bin. He returned to his desk and started working again. He was simultaneously working on three reports and two presentations, none of which were close to completion.  His eyes were giving up, on him, he had a tough time staying awake, and he couldn’t get coffee also after destroying the mug. Two hours later, he dozed off on his chair.

6 months earlier…

“Sir… You have to attend the final round of the interviews along with the Board Members today at 3 PM”, Pankaj’s secretary read out his special list of appointments for the day.

“Do we have any special contenders today?” he asked, thinking if his Research Wing could get someone special. “Yes Sir… Dheeraj Purohit, 27 years old, Masters in Human Psychology from Harvard, specializes in Human Behavior and Body Language semantics, has passed the previous rounds by practically just telling our panel members what they had for breakfast and who they slept with last night with 98% accuracy…”

“Impressive… I will watch out for him.”

Pankaj Sinha was a shrewd guy, a management expert himself, he held an MBA from the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. His tall frame was intimidating for his peers and juniors; he was a much-respected person in The People. He had joined The People 3 years back, with the then CEO practically begging him to join them. He joined them on one single condition, the formation of the R&D wing inside The People; the move was a masterstroke as the company started gaining brilliant clients and their stock kept rising. Pankaj knew that his genius had worked, and he set himself to expand the R&D Wing. He was like Steve Jobs for the R&D Wing, the sole voice when it came to approvals, appraisals, and removals. He sat there with the other Board Members, opposite to him sat Dheeraj.

Dheeraj Purohit was an unpopular Harvard graduate, a Master of Arts in Human Psychology; he had majored in Human Behaviour and Body Language Semantics. His final year project was a controversial subject of Body Language for Criminal Investigation. He had rejected an offer from Scotland Yard to come back to Mumbai, serve his ailing parents, and had now applied for the role of Human Resource Researcher at The People. Dheeraj had an average height, round face with a light complexion; he had worn khakis and a plain black shirt for the interview. He analyzed the panel of interviewers, 6 of them. His mind started working in overdrive.

On his extreme right sat a pale-faced person, he noticed the sweat on his brow and wondered amusingly as to what was making him so nervous, he then noticed the red patch near the inside of his collar, lipstick? Secretary? Mistress? Then noticing the crumple of his shirt, he deduced that he had had a naughty time with his secretary not so long ago. Next to him sat an old fellow, the bulge in his breast pocket showed the outline of an inhaler, an asthma patient. Next to him, sat twin brothers, one had a receding hairline, probably hereditary; the other had impeccable hair, definitely a wig. Next to the twins, sat a person with a definite air of confidence around him. His suit was tautly ironed; he smelled of fresh cologne and sat with his back up straight, Dheeraj understood that he was the man with the most authority here, probably the CEO. Next to him sat a tall, dark man with glasses who was observing him the same way as he was.

The pale man was the Treasurer, the old man was the Advisor of the CEO, the bald twin was the CMO, the other twin was the CFO, Dheeraj got the CEO right, and the last one was Pankaj Sinha, Vice President of the R&D Wing. Dheeraj got the job, the Board found him impressive, Pankaj found him arrogant, but he had to bend in front of the board. Pankaj did not like losing.

3 days later. Friday.

Dheeraj and his team showed some shoddy presentations and reports on his ideas. The Board didn’t look impressed, but Pankaj sat there with a smirk on his face. After the presentations, Pankaj came up to Dheeraj, who was seething with rage, his face had become red and so had his eyes.

“I’m really very sorry Dheeraj, but I think the team will have to be disbanded, but the good part is you can still work on the other projects and give your valuable expertise. In fact, Dr.Wadhwa wants you on his team along with Sohail for his current project, should I go ahead with the approvals?”

Sohail turned up just in time, Dheeraj’s rage was going out of control, he could have just slapped Pankaj, and he interjected, “anything would do sir… It’s a shame that Dheeraj’s ideas were not promoted, but there is always a next time…”

Sohail dragged Dheeraj out in the lobby, “What are you doing? Control yourself…”

“That son of a bitch set this all up, you see the smirk on his face, the air of guilty pleasure around him”, Dheeraj hissed angrily at Sohail.

“I know it is him, but we can’t do anything, he has convinced the board, and we will have to work harder to convince them back…”

Dheeraj’s mind was numb, he couldn’t think straight, he saw his reflection in the glass window and he felt like punching through it. His eyes hovered to the glass table and he thought of picking up the vase at the corner of the lobby and smashing it through the glass table.

“We will work something out. Dheeraj are you even listening?” Sohail asked irritatedly.

“Fuck it! I’m out of here…” Dheeraj shrugged Sohail aside and walked towards the elevator. As he stepped inside the elevator, he saw the mirror on the back wall, he felt like shattering his own image in the mirror. The Anger demon had possessed him, his eyes were red as a devil’s. He impatiently pressed for the parking floor, but his shivering hands pressed the ground floor also. He groaned with anger at his callousness. The elevator seemed to be taking more time than usual; Dheeraj kicked the side wall impatiently. At last, the elevator reached the parking floor, Dheeraj walked out not being able to remember where he had parked his car. The anger was getting to him. He walked around pressing the buttons on his keys trying to hear the beep of his car but to no avail. And then he stopped, the flashy white Mercedes Benz C Class stood in front of him and he surely knew whose car it was. He walked around the car, each step raising the temperature of his boiling anger. Behind the car next to the column of the wall he found a long iron lever. The demon in him smiled. He picked up the iron rod and walked up to the front of the car and like a baseball shot he whacked the iron rod on to the windshield of the car, the glass cracked but did not break. This angered him more and he went on a rampage with the car, the alarm started ringing and the security guards came running to stop him. By the time they could pull the rod out of his hands, he had shattered the windshield, two window glasses, and was responsible for a huge dent on the bonnet along with a million scratches. The security personnel had seen the video of an unknown assailant destroying the car and had already called the police. Dheeraj heard the sirens and stopped struggling with the security guards. Seeing no resistance from Dheeraj the guards left him. The noise of the sirens kept increasing and meanwhile Dheeraj’s anger kept receding. The sheer amount of pleasure he got by destroying Pankaj’s car was indescribable, pure ecstasy had taken over him, he had surrendered to the raw and devilish power of anger. He saw the lights of the Police vehicles and started laughing.

To be continued…

🪔 A very Happy Diwali (Festival of Lights) to you and your loved ones! 🪔

This story has more parts so stay tuned for Episode 2 next Sunday!

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- Darshan Pania