“Rastogi!” A loud demanding shout echoed in my ears like the rumbling “atom bomb” on the night of Diwali in the park. My thoughts came to a closing halt. It was back to reality.
I gazed at my watch to see that almost forty minutes had passed since I’d stopped a second to rest. My amazement was apparently quite evident to the immense figure in gray, the foreman. A look o f impatience and two parted lips ready to blast a second time automatically brought the delayed response, “Yes-s sir.”
I quickly pulled the idle trowel from between two cement bricks. “Lucky for me we didn’t use a quick-drying cement,” I thought, as I began preparing the incomplete wall for another brick. It wasn’t anytime ‘till I’d gotten back into the swing of my system, a pattern each layer has to work out for himself, it is the very thing that makes you one of the best or no good. I knew mine was good.
“ Sorry – didn’t see that a ‘coming’ a ways back, Rastogi, would have warned ya.” Ravi Singh, a good-hearted guy, stood at the other side of the wall looking over at me.
“No matter,” I cheerfully reassured him, not looking up from my work. “ He knows it isn’t often I slack up on the job.”
“Man, you trying, to break a speed record?” Ravi shouted over the sound of the unloading trucks. “ Thought when I just saw you over here working like your life depended on it, I thought, ‘He’s mad at the world.’ I thought you were blowing off steam.”
“Nope- gotta-make – up little-lost time.” Each word followed the squishing whoop of a carefully aimed scoop of cement. Looking up for the first time, I wiped the perspiration from my face; a necessary gesture every five or six bricks.
“ Say, Ravi”, I asked him, “Know of a-a-oh, somewhere, a nice place out in the woods, cheap, I could maybe rent for the summer? Want to, kinda get away from civilization!”
Ravi’s mouth flew open. “ Summer? Vacation? My God, fellow, it ain’t but December.”
A familiar gray figure approaching ended the conversation. I put the last two bricks, I was ready for in place and the cement started its squishing, whopping, rhythm. Man, I felt good.
Yep, we’re going fishing and hiking. Me, Ronnie and the wife going to stay as long as we can this summer. Guess I ’ll have to convince her it won’t be wasted money. What’s television? Anyone can go to movies! Damn if that kid of mine’s spending his life penned up in a city!”