Fiction: Lunch Hour

April 25, 2016 Fiction , POETRY / FICTION

By

Sona Maniar

 

 

The title “By the Way” sort of stuck.  A few other titles got bandied about. “By the Way” seemed like a fairly apt description of our lunch sessions convened in one of the conference rooms, where a variety of subjects from book reviews to movie releases to politics got dissected with ample contributions of wit and sarcasm.

The room was getting crowded. On more than one occasion, Meg complained that Joe’s expansive behind had pressed against her cheek. Initially though, it was just Paul and me, having a general conversation by the side of his desk during lunch. Then Josh, the slender blonde art designer, who sat next to Paul, started pitching in with his views. Gradually the discussions widened their net, with new voices routinely emerging. Soon the group became too large to hang around Paul’s desk and shifted to one of the conference rooms. Seth, Nigel, Sarah One and Two, and Tom from Accounts became regulars.

More folks on the floor wanted to get onto the carousel, even more were turning curious. The recommendations for books and movies and literary events that emerged from “By the Way” began getting revered and migrated by word of mouth to the floor above where all the bosses sat. “Is the new Tom Hanks movie any good?” “By the Way decided that the plot was banal, not worth the trip to the movies” “Thanks, mate. Shall cancel the movie date

The “By the Way” session became something to look forward to even as the company started to wobble at its knees. Quarter after quarter, the results worsened. “McCready, the old bastard’s lost his Midas touch”, Seth declared loudly in our “By the Way” session as he watched the company’s share price tank on his mobile. The room fell unusually silent. Seth had broken the unsaid rule. Never bad mouth the bosses in public. Sarah One nervously glanced up to the CCTV camera placed in the corner of the room. Somebody was watching this, somebody would face consequences. Sure enough, a few days later Seth was transferred to a distant outpost.

Gloom descended over the subsequent “By the Way” sessions. The congregation was terribly aware of Big Brother. The remarks turned guarded and measured. Then one afternoon, I decided to skip the session. I kept to my desk space and wondered. What was the point? I pulled up my CV on the computer screen and began updating it. It was time for a change, any change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sona Maniar

I’m a chemical engineer and an MBA from INSEAD (France), currently working in strategy for a large engineering firm. I enjoy writing short fiction. My work has appeared in Femina and Quail Bell magazine.

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