Excerpt: 'Take out a supari on your boss, you dummy!'
Banking and finance professional, engineer and MBA, Upendra Namburi first picked up the pen for a finance publication. Since then, he has become an avid blogger and has now debuted his first work of fiction, one of a three-part series.
31 (the forthcoming works will also be titled as just numbers) is a thriller that sees the life of Namburi's protagonist, Ravi Shastry, turn upside down. A mid-level banking executive, he's looking forward to a promotion as March 31, the close of the financial year, draws near. However, a series of unprecedented events throws his job into jeopardy and puts an immense strain on his personal life, so that the days leading up to the date turn into a countdown that may have potentially devastating consequences.
We bring you an excerpt:
'Ravi, you seen the markets?'
'No, I've been kind of preoccupied. Why?'
'The Sensex just crashed. They've closed trading for the day!'
'Why? What happened?'
'You remember Silverwire Technologies?'
'Of course. You had a hot tip. Put in a lot of money there.'
'Well, their directors are being investigated for cooking the books!'
'News came out just after the market opened today. The scrip has tanked. It's going down and the fall is not stopping. It's already hit the circuit-breakers and is taking the whole damn market with it...'
'How bad, Mayur?'
'Very. I think we got burnt on this. I'm stepping into a meeting. Will catch you later.'
I had invested over Rs 40 lakh on that stock. Mayur had news that they would be announcing a bumper dividend and possibly even a bonus share issuance. It was supposed to have been a surefire short-term investment. No downside. A once in a lifetime opportunity! That frigging prick!
I logged onto my investments account. The ticker looked ominous as the stocks sped across in red. Silverwire was screwed. So was I -- I had been banking on this money. And, it had disappeared in a matter of seconds. There went the little liquidity that I had.
'Ravi, you got a minute?'
Savitha! Had the ice broken?
'Sure, what's up?'
'It's confirmed Ravi. I'm on the firing line...'
'Why, what happened?'
'Just had lunch with my HR manager. She is someone I can talk to...'
'My boss has given me a very poor rating this year and she's also managed to get some crazy feedback from my clients on my work!'
'You sure of this?'
'Take care, Sav. Just...'
'Listen, Ravi. I've just got too much on my mind!...sorry 'bout earlier...'
'Chill, Sav. It's okay. Chill!'
My newly found status, swamped in penury and desperation, forced me to dial Jaideep's number.
'Good evening, Ravi. How're you?'
How am I? The swine had been avoiding my calls and emails all week.
'Good, Jaideep. How's the situation in the head office?'
'Ravi, let's just say I would prefer Bangalore right now,' he burst into laughter.
'I can imagine, Jaideep. I just wanted to connect with you and touch upon our discussion of last week in Bangalore.'
'What did you have in mind, Ravi?'
'You had mentioned there could be some assignments in the head office. I was wondering if you had any further thoughts along those lines?'
He cleared his throat. 'That's strange, Ravi, but I think we may have had a communication gap or we just misunderstood each other. That's what fine Scotch can do to hale and hearty men like us!'
The Casanova had just lied through his teeth...
'... and how's the family?' The evergreen method of terminating the conversation and telling me to bugger off!
They just want to kick you on your balls. But, they're rocking!
'What's wrong, Ravi? You call me only when you've screwed!'
'I was speaking with Amitabh today'.
'For the CEO visit tomorrow?' She appeared quite connected with the events at my office. I couldn't say that was mutual though. I hadn't been able to empathise with her predicament. There was too much going on with me.
'Nope.' 'So, what happened?'
'To cut a long story short, he said I was on my own.'
She didn't seem surprised. Was possibly convinced she had married a jinxed loser.
'You're sure or are you reading too much into what he says? You've always taken him too seriously, you know.'
'No, I've thought it through. He was quite clear.'
I was beginning to get agitated with the perpetual quagmire that I appeared to be in.
'Great. So now you're quite clear what you need to do?'
'And what's that?'
'Take out a "supari" on your boss, you dummy!' she laughed. It was exhilarating to see her laugh. But I was now going to dampen it. I had been hoping for some sympathy from the Amitabh discussion to act as a shock absorber for the calamity in the stock market.
'You've changed that tone deliberately. Out with it, Ravi!'
'Remember we had invested in that IT stock...'
'You invested in, Ravi. Not we! What happened?' She glared at me and then decided to spell it out for me. 'Let me guess, it bombed today?'
'We need to get some puja done, Ravi. Will speak with Papa,' Savitha appeared very cool, considering it was a good portion of Rs 40 lakh down the drain.
I was guessing she had forgotten the amount we had invested or, forgotten one of the zeros! Either way, she was definitely getting old. Before marriage we would have exchanged high fives and downed a few pegs, now she was dropping the P-word at the drop of a hat. She had possibly given up hope. No crossfire, bursts of anger. She was keeping it all in. It surely couldn't be good for her or the baby.
'I may need to go to Chennai tomorrow.'
'But isn't you CEO in town?
I didn't want to tell her about the interview and raise hopes. 'Yes, but something urgent has come up. May leave by the evening flight...'
'When will you be back?'
'Should be back on Saturday. Will let you know.'
Excerpted from 31 by Upendra Namburi, with the permission of publishers Westland Ltd.
Image: Book cover of Upendra Namburi's 31