Rashmi did not want to get up from her bed that morning. She was feeling unusually lethargic and depressed for no reason at all. She managed to drag herself to the office, albeit a little late. On her way, she had seriously contemplated taking leave. Why was she so reluctant to go to work today, she wondered? She enjoyed her job and got along well with her colleagues.
At the office, she tried hard to concentrate on the major assignment she had to work on, but found that she was unable to focus. She kept watching the clock and wandering around on the pretext of getting coffee, working the copier machine and going to the ladies` room.
To add to her troubles, her computer monitor was not working properly. Ultimately, she called in the network support desk, handed in her system and decided to call it a day just a little after the lunch break. She really was longing to get back home.
Just as she stepped out of her cubicle, her boss called her into his cabin. And over the next couple of hours he discussed the assignment she was working on. Any other day, Rashmi would have been elated at such an opportunity. She would have loved to show her boss exactly how well she could have handled the project. But on this particular day, she was anxious for the meeting to conclude.
As the minutes went by, Rashmi found herself becoming more and more restless and hurrying through the discussion. When her boss found her inattentive at a couple of points, she made a feeble excuse of ill-health and managed to make an exit from her office just an hour before quitting time.
The gush of wind that greeted her as she stepped out of the air-conditioned building seemed to bring relief to her. She wondered if the tightening around her chest she had felt at her office was because of guilt. She would have stayed back till quitting time if her computer had been fixed, she told herself as she boarded the bus home.
The truth was that she had not even bothered to check if the problem with her computer had been fixed. All she had wanted to do was to get out of `The Crystal Plaza`, the building where her office was located. She found herself wondering at her unusual behavior on the journey back home.
She opened the door of her flat shaking her head, unable to find an explanation for her jittery behaviour. Her neighbour was surprised to see Rashmi home early Was something wrong?.
Strangely, Rashmi felt at ease once at home. She began to believe that the stress of the assignment at work had been the cause of her earlier behaviour and that the ride back home had lifted her spirits. Dismissing any further thought about the day`s events, she made herself a cup of coffee and settled down to watch the evening news.
She almost choked on the coffee when she heard the headlines. A major fire had broken out in the Crystal Plaza, a little before quitting time. With fourteen floors of commercial occupants, the fire was the breaking story for the news channel.
Numb with shock, Rashmi watched the live images of the burning building; she had been in it for the most part of her day. Realizing that she could have been one of the injured being taken on stretchers, Rashmi felt a shiver run down her spine. She might have even died.
She thought of her agitated state at office, her anxiety on being caught up in the meeting, her claustrophobic sensation and her relief on reaching home.
She thought about her colleagues, who had earlier in the day, had chided her about her behavior. While she had been lucky, they hadn`t. A lot of them were probably in hospital. Any other day, she would have been one of them, but her strange fears had changed that.
Her tears began to flow as the reality dawned upon Rashmi. It was intuition that had kept troubling her, a gut feeling that had forced her off the ill-fated building, and an inexplicable power that had proved to be as precious as life itself.
Priya Sanjeevi Raja