I could hear Pia’s footsteps and I ran out to meet her and Shantanu. Pia
through threw her arms around me as though she hadn’t seen me for ages.
“This is so coooool!!” She exclaimed, referring to the old office building.. I gathered her in my arms and carried her inside, proudly showing her “my office”. I showed her my desk, the printing area, Prasad’s editor room, Suraj’s photography workshop, the new construction guys.. She found it incredibly funny that if those guys didn’t finish their work, the rest of us wouldn’t have any place to work. I explained the logic behind that to her. The flooring wasn’t safe, it was old and rotten and the City Council had doubts about its strength. Prasad over heard me and poo pah-ed my explanations.
“Don’t listen to her Pia.. This place has been around since my grandfather’s time! Its rock solid!!” Prasad was trying to defend his run down building.
We all laughed at his earnest efforts to convince us. I packed my things for the day and was almost ready to leave when I got a call. It was an advertiser who wanted to know the nitty gritty details about our charges.
“This will take a while Pia.. Why don’t you go grab some Pepsi from the refrigerator?”
Pia let go of Shantanu’s hand and went to the next room.
The call took longer than I expected. Shantanu kept flipping through the old copies of City Journal glaring at me occasionally for making him wait for so long. I made a apologetic face and carried on with my conversation. City Journal hadn’t reached that stage yet where I could refuse potential customers. Finally, after what seemed ages, I was done.
“Sorry sorry.. lets go.. ” I looked around.. “Where’s Pia?”
“She must be with Prasad or Suraj.. ” Shantanu opened my office door for me.. I went to Suraj’s workshop. No sign of Pia.
“Suraj, did Pia come here?” Suraj turned to me, “Yeah.. She was here half and hour back. Then she got bored of what I was doing and went somewhere..”
Concern gripped me.
“Pia!” I called out loudly.. there was no reaction. I couldn’t really hear myself over the printing and construction work noise.. “Pia?!” I could feel it in my bones that something was not right.
Prasad came out bewildered at my shouting. “What happened???”
“We can’t find Pia..” I could hear the panic in my voice..
“Don’t worry Khushi.. we’ll find her.. she’ll be here somewhere..” His steady gaze calmed me a little..
We split up to look for her.