Chapter 1

“Ooooooouch, you moron, what are you up to?” Feroz screamed loudly, tears flooding his eyes. Adi and other staff members milling about stared shockingly at me.

Feroz was rubbing the back of his forearm fervently to ease the pain of the stabbed pencil. The pencil’s jab, which was aimed at Feroz’s throat, was thwarted by the back of his forearm which instinctively rose to protect the target.

I looked at Feroz’s face. He was in agony and his face was red, like a tomato. No, not tomato again!! What’s wrong with me? Why am I obsessing and ranting about a stupid vegetable or a fruit or whatever it’s supposed to be? This tomato was going to cost me my job today, I thought, bemused.

“I am so sorry Feroz”, I said apologetically. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. You see I was really frustrated working on this tomato ketchup artwork and tagline. However hard I try, I just can’t make a ketchup sound lustful. I hate tomatoes. I see red when I think of tomatoes!” I tried to make light of the situation but Feroz was not amused.

“I meant to jab the pencil on the table but accidently hit your arm,” I said, rather lamely. For a 47-year old, I was undoubtedly sounding very childish and immature.

“I know this business can make people crazy but when they cannot figure out if they are jabbing at a table or at a person, its calls for serious introspection. Neal, it’s ok to be exasperated but violence is absolutely unacceptable. I thought you had learnt your lesson,” Feroz’s tone betrayed his rage.

“Look, can you ask someone to work on this tomato ketchup thing? I have reached an artistic dead end. I just cannot make a ketchup bottle look sexy or seductive. Kids are going to lap up ketchup irrespective of how the bottle looks,” I said indifferently, trying to dissipate the tension.

“I think you should go on leave, a long, unpaid leave. Your anger issues are cropping up again. I thought the anger management and soft skills workshops were helping but I guess I was wrong,” said Feroz stoically.

I was stunned. I never thought that my repeated histrionics would one day cost me my livelihood. I had erred today and many times before this. But I was too smug about my creative abilities and indispensability to this company to care a hoot.

“You are very talented Neal but your talent is being smothered by your eccentricities. Until you get rid of them, you don’t stand a good chance of keeping this job. I have covered your back many times. But you have already ruffled too many feathers in this company,” said my creative head solemnly.

Feroz’s visage wore a very dejected look. I knew he was thinking about the Sheila incident. I had almost lost my job, dignity and reputation then. My thoughts flashbacked to that fateful day in January when I had impulsively assaulted Sheila.

Comments

Hi Hemalia

This chapter was more vivid and in a way very funny. Try to write less dialogue and more description and see how that works with your overall writing style. I think you'll find you'll enjoy creating scenes and and filling in the background.

Cheers

Suraya