30 minutes nahi toh Free

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5.00 pm

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Pizza-house, Sector 14, Gurgaon

I am waiting for Gaurav to handover two pizza boxes to me to be parceled. I pick up few sachets of oregano and chilly flakes along with few others of ketchup to put them in the parcel bag. Seema hands over the copy of bill to me and I closed the glass door of famous Pizza place behind.

I have now stepped outside the air conditioned world into the sun-kissed roads of Delhi. I take my bike out of the parking lot after I’m done carefully putting the pizza boxes inside the parcel box. I kick start my bike, adjust my cap once looking into the bike’s mirror and I’m ready to go.

My name is Atul and I am your pizza delivery boy!

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5.04 pm

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I am crossing the highway ahead of sector 2-market and I suddenly feel vibration in my right pocket. Not stopping by the side of the road, I take it out swiftly to see ‘’Neeti calling’’ flashing on its screen. I keep watching it while I dodge the traffic to turn the screen to ‘’3 missed calls from Neeti’’.  I was supposed to meet her today.

It is her birthday. I should have spoken to her at least by now. I am doing math in my head. 5.30 pm delivery is must in order to complete my daily target. I can’t miss her birthday. But then neither could I miss my incentives.

I do not know if it was depth of my thoughts about her or the length of the road, which just took almost 10 minutes for me to get to the signal at crossing.

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5.14 pm

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“Shit!” The asshole cop is whistling at me again to stop.

Last time he caught me jumping the red light, I had to pay him entire 45 bucks in my wallet that I had. Bastard knows very well that I do not have time to waste.

But I am not stopping this time.

My right hand wrist moves up and so does the speed-o-meter arrow in reply. With my bike is crossing another two squares, Policeman’s whistle is fast fading away behind.

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5.23 pm

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The giant glass building of Medanta Medicity hospital on the left side of the road looks down upon this pizza boy, as I stop my bike to recheck the address for delivery.

I wipe my sweaty palms over my jeans and open the page to read,

“Miss Sakshi Raai

Sector 39, Emerald Greens Apartment

Contact 99484…………”

My tired eyes are searching for any signs of this apartment in every possible direction.

A fleet of rickshaw drivers are chatting on other side of the road and at this moment I strongly feel they are the ones who might save me.

I have just few minutes left.

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5.28 pm

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They don’t. No one has an inkling of an idea, where the apartment is. I look at the contact number on the page and dial it for the 3rd time in last 2 minutes.

It is not reachable.

I turn my bike around and decide to trust my instincts.

I take a right turn inside the lane that stretches in front of the main gate of Medanta Hospital.

As I ride my bike at slow speed & racing heart beat, I cross a tall building displaying a big Tax office sign over it. Further I can see another big building with construction work going on in its background. And on the right side of it…I see…on the right side I can see some colonies…I fix my eyes on the right side now, as I ride my bike. I pass a couple of apartments and finally reach where I am supposed to.

Emerald Greens!

I park my bike by the side of the road and hurriedly move inside the building.

I don’t wait for the lift to take me there. I cannot risk fighting a battle with probability anymore. Time is running out. I take the stairs to reach the third floor.

Standing outside customer’s house, I balance pizza boxes on my right palm and stretch out my left arm to ring the bell.

The eye-hole turns dark and it is followed by hungry cheers from inside the room.

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5.36 pm

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I am late.

I adjust my cap once and yes, I wear my perfect pizza boy-smile.

Miss Sakshi opens the door.

‘’Good evening Mam’. I am Atul. Please take your order. And…this is your bill”

She checks her watch conveying the message clearly to me, and then checks the bill.

You know you are late, right?’’ She says as she looks at me from head to toe.

”Sakshi, don’t pay. It is well beyond 30 minutes” someone shouts out from inside the room.

I simply stand there with my impassive face. I have no answer.

She gives me another look…to my tired face & hopeful eyes and then opens her purse.

She hands over the money to me & locks the door behind.

Thank you!’’ is what I say and look at Mr Gandhi on the rupee note.

He gives me a content smile saying, ”humanity is still very much alive…!”

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