[Editor’s Note : Every week we will be publishing one chapter from Ansh Das’s book, The Memory Of A Face. Needless to say, we are super excited! Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, Chapter 23, Chapter 24, Chapter 25, Chapter 26, Chapter 27, Chapter 28 & Chapter 29]
“Let’s go,” the boss called out.
“Yo! It’s time for food, men.” Energy told the people around him.
They filed into the biggest conference room at their office. Snacks were laid out on the tables at one end of the room. Energy made a beeline for them and then stopped short. He turned around and looked at Oliver with narrowed eyes. Somebody handed him a drink and he looked happy again.
Oliver found it difficult to focus. He had to pick up something new and focus on it or else he’d lose his mind worrying over his troubled relationship with Priscilla.
The event kicked off with introductions. Kevin Taylor took center stage after that. He told them how and why it was important to have these groups in their company. Towards the end, Kevin invited them to join the groups. An email would be sent out and they could register their choices by responding to it. Energy had continued eating noisily through the presentation.
As soon as the event was over, they went back to their desks. Oliver wondered whether he should join any of the support groups. He had no idea what he was expected to do as a member. He needed some support himself.
“Are you okay?” Energy asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t wanna think about anything. I think I should go and do something random, something that doesn’t require me to think.”
“Do you wanna play the Xbox? We could go to the Wan Chai Computer Centre after work. I wanna buy some new games.”
“Don’t you normally go to Sham Shui Po? Games aren’t cheap in Wan Chai.”
“I’m feeling lazy today.” Energy laughed.
“I think I’ll go home lah.” Oliver sighed.
“And do what? Come on, you’ve got to take it easy.”
“I know. Maybe a quiet night at home will fix it.” Would it? Really?
“The problem isn’t gonna disappear. You need to relax. I don’t want you to think too much especially when you’re home alone.”
“Okay, okay. Let’s play online later tonight.”
“That’s more like it. He-he.” Energy winked at him.
“By the way, did you meet up with Agnes again?”
“Nope. Otherwise she’d have told Priscilla who would have announced it to me.” Oliver said.
“Well. To be honest, I’ve thought about it. But…” Energy trailed off.
“She isn’t exactly my type, you know,” Energy said.
“Well, that’s entirely up to you. But you’ve got many things in common.”
“Maybe that’s the problem. I wouldn’t wanna date myself now, would I?”
“Sometimes it makes sense to have something in common. For example, common interests.”
“Does she do sports?” Energy asked, looking happy.
“That’s up to you to find out lah. I can’t tell you everything. The fact is I don’t know everything. But from what I’ve seen and heard about her, she’s a nice girl. And one girl in arm is worth ten on the street,” Oliver said and regretted it immediately. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. All I’m trying to say is give her a chance.”
“Okay, okay. I’ll try. But I don’t guarantee anything. Please don’t blame me if something goes wrong.” Energy warned him.
“Nobody’s blaming anybody. We’re all adults here,” Oliver said. “Please don’t feel that I’m forcing you into anything.”
“Nobody can force me into anything,” Energy shot back. Both knew that was a lie.
The telephone on Oliver’s desk started buzzing. It was their boss.
“Oops,” said Oliver. “Catch you in a bit.”
He picked up the receiver as Energy went back to his desk.
“Hey, Oliver,” the boss said. “Can you come over for a minute?”
“Sure, boss.” Oliver hung up and walked into his boss’s office. His name was Daniel Wong but his team called him boss.
“Do you know the guy who was speaking at the support group launch event today?” he asked Oliver.
“Kevin Taylor? I don’t know him personally but I’ve heard of him.” Oliver wasn’t sure whether he should take a seat or keep standing. Since Daniel hadn’t asked him to sit down yet, he chose to stand. He hoped the conversation wouldn’t last very long.
“Yup. Kevin Taylor. He was here to talk to me a few hours ago. He asked me if there was anybody on my team who could help them run the support groups.” Daniel paused as if expecting Oliver to say something.
Oliver’s mind was blank. He didn’t want to think. He stood there and continued looking at his boss’s face, completely expressionless.
“I suggested your name to him,” Daniel said.
“What!” Oliver reacted this time. “But I don’t know anything about them and I’ve no idea what I need to do.”
“I told him it’s gonna be your first time in such a role. I also told him you do a lot of volunteer work in your spare time.”
“Yeah. But this isn’t volunteer work.”
“In a way it is. I volunteered you.” Daniel laughed at his own joke. When he realized Oliver wasn’t laughing, he stopped. “Well, give it a shot. It’s good for our team. You’ve worked with a lot of people beyond your desk job. I’m sure you’ll be good at it.”
“I don’t wanna pick it up if it’s gonna affect my day job.”
“It should not. At least that’s what he told me. In any case, I think it’s time for you to do a bit more than what you’re doing. We haven’t got any good projects this year. So maybe you can work on your leadership skills in this new role. Try it for a while and see how it goes.” Daniel coaxed him.
“How long do I need to do this?”
“I’ve no idea, actually. Here’s what. Why don’t I let Kevin know you’re okay to give it a shot. Let him give you the details. Thank you.”
Oliver took that as a cue to leave. He was surprised at having been volunteered for something without his prior consent. But he knew Daniel well. If he wanted something, he would have it. There was no way he could have said no. And he did make some sense. Maybe this was something that could occupy his time and keep his mind off his painful relationship for a while. He walked up to his desk and locked his workstation.
“Let’s go,” he called out to Energy.