Kuki staggered into his bathroom, and fumbled with the toothpaste. What was going to change today? He was still going to walk into office an over-aged copywriter, struggle to write copy for an audience that he understood no longer, get berated by creative directors half his age, and was going to end up drunk in the gutter by Susan Bar.
It therefore made no sense to him to walk into an ocean of smiling faces. There was a bouquet of flowers on his desk, along with a gold medal and a letter.
He had won the gold at GoaFest. For the best integrated campaign for a public purpose. 'Chaabi De' was the slogan on everyone lips - the slogan that said, "if you are going to drink today, give me the keys to your car".
Boss had gone mad seeing the line. It was lazy, dumb, incomprehensible, had no ring, unmemorable! But he deadline as too near, and nothing could be done. 'Chaabi De' went to client. He had blanked it out from his mind then.
But someone in the client's side liked it. It went onto press ads, posters. It figured on prime time TV, radio jockeys exhorted people with it, it stared at you from billboards. The client (but not his own agency) entered it for the GoaFest awards. It made the gold.
There was contrition all round. The younger copywriters wanted 'tips' from him. The MD, the agency directors, chiefs of rival agencies, all e-mailed congratulations to him. Even Seema - she who divorced him after she got promoted over him.
Booze flowed free that night. All his 'cronies' were there - successful men who in several years had never bothered with so much as a phone call. Now they were raising toasts for his health.
Kuki walked into his flat by midnight. The moon was full, shedding its silvery light over the grayness of Chelaram colony. The garish yellow sari seemed a little mellowed. The neighbour was silent.
It was the happiest day of his life. There was only one thing left to do. He opened his cupboard, took out his gun, loaded it and aimed it at his head.