Mr. Eric Arildson looked at his watch and sighed. It was 9 o clock. He was late, by his standards. He liked arriving ten minutes earlier, on important occasions. This was the most important of all such conventions he’d been in. In the next one hour he’d meet one of the most influential men in the country. The limo slowed down and came to a halt outside The Plaza. The chauffeur opened the door for him and he climbed out of the car.
It was a sunny day, the weather was perfect for the game of baseball that little Frank wanted to play. He remembered he had promised to take Frank and Bambi, their little terrier to the park to play with the other kids from school. Mark, his deputy, interrupted his thoughts. “Sir, I consulted three different financial advisors anonymously. Three other than our own. They’re all in favor of this buy. This could accelerate us to the top of the market in less than a year”. Eric murmured a cursory line of consent as he nodded. Mark knew it was best to stay quiet noticing his boss’ indifference. In spite of being the owner and Director of one of New York’s top real estate companies, Mr.Arildson wasn’t a very happy man. After he lost his wife to a tragic accident a couple of years earlier, nothing mattered to him. Unbelievable as it may sound, success did not elate him anymore; it had become a habit. He worked hard only to keep his mind off the sadness. He did not even smile when he was voted and awarded the Entrepreneur of the year by the NY Times. The only thing that cheered him up was the sight of his son. He loved the boy and his innocent giggle like laugh. He could spend hours with his little boy, only he had no time. He had hired a full-day nanny and a number of servants to make sure the boy got all that he wanted.
Eric along with Mark walked into the conference room on the 12th floor. The room was well lit. The décor was sophisticated – mahogany walls with tasteful pieces of art, deep green carpets and beautiful chandeliers. The room reminded Eric of Larika’s place. She was a beautiful, lovely woman he had met six months ago. He really liked her. She made him feel alive again. He wanted to move on and she seemed like the perfect woman. He had just never found the time for her. His pondering was ended abruptly by Mark’s loud sneeze followed by his characteristic “excusez-moi”. In the conference room, there was one table and at one end of it was the biggest business magnate of the city, seated with his retinue standing beside him. Eric strode across briskly and shook hands with the man. After exchanging some pleasantries, they got to business. Eric skimmed through the documents placed in front of him, perfunctorily. Mark had got them checked with their lawyer for loopholes. As Eric took out his pen from the pocket of his suit, a small yellow note fell off the pen’s clip on to his lap. He stared at the note. In the most childlike cursive writing he had ever seen, it said, “Daddy, I am turning 6 tuday. You fergot?“ It broke Eric’s heart. He had let Frank down. He did not know how he could have forgotten this day! It was the most beautiful, fulfilling one of all those days. Eric could feel all eyes in the room on him. He could sense inquisitiveness around. He could see one of the standing men lean slightly to get a peek at the note. He looked up at him as he neatly placed the note back in his pocket; the man turned red. He signed the documents in less than a minute, stood up as he murmured an inaudible “emergency”, then turned away and paced out of the room with no other word of parting.
Eric buzzed his chauffeur. He walked around the waiting room in circles vigorously. He had forgotten his son’s birthday. He did not know he had learnt cursive handwriting. He did not know his son needed tutoring on spellings. He was an awful father. He did not want to wait to be better; he sprinted towards the gate and hailed the first taxi that came along. As he got in, he thought of how life would have been if he had let Mark handle the businesses for him. He would have taken Frank to the games, the park, and the movies and everywhere else. He would have asked Larika to marry him. They would have been a perfect family. They would’ve played charades, sang songs, eaten pizza and spilt cheese all over and played pillow-fight with Frank. He would’ve taken them on a vacation to the Caribbean to play on the beach and build sand-castles. His dream was disrupted by an earsplitting crash. He screamed as something pierced through his neck. The taxi had crashed into a heavy transportation truck. Eric whimpered in pain. He could not shout for help; there was no sound when he tried. He cried, making as much noise as he could. The pain was severe and agonizing. He saw a man running towards the car. After that, he saw nothing. It was all black. It still hurt terribly. It was tormenting. A minute later, it stopped hurting too.
If only Eric knew the day was looming.