I have grown up hearing stories of leaking roofs. My father used to live in one of the famous small towns/villages of West Bengal. As a young boy, his family wasn't exact the kingly sort. The house was huge but the maintenance was poor. I recall him telling me tales of how during the seasonal Bengali thunderstorm, "Kalboishakhi", his siblings and him took refuge under their gigantic bed. The imagery of this scene mesmerized me. Can the bed suddenly turn into a roof, when the real roof cowered under the storm? Maybe beds are meant to have dual purposes, and only my dad and his siblings were the discoverers of this amazing benefit!
My mother stayed in Calcutta when she was young. They lived in a humongous collection of flats. Obviously the renter did very little for the upkeep of his building. As soon as the downpour of the monsoons started, the leaky roofs emerged from their hibernation. Leaking relentlessly they made my mom miserable. As a child, I remember her telling me, that she used to run into any non-leaky neighbor's apartment. Leakiness symbolized discomfort and refuge for me.
It is unbelievable that I am facing what my parents faced five decades ago.
Just yesterday, as I was sitting peacefully in my cubicle, minding my own Outlook inbox, my colleague from the cube-behind, came up to me. Without much prologue, she asked, " Is your roof leaking?"
I looked up. Right at that very instant, a gigantic drop left the ceiling and bounced on my nose. She was right. The rain outside had found it's way to touch me. Despite all my attempts at sitting tight on my chair, the Rain God had decided on his own that I shouldn't be missing out on all the fun he was generating.
The drop that hit me had got mixed with rust of the conduits it had taken for it's journey. The drop was dirty.
I stood up. I realized that the dampness I had been feeling right on top of my head was not residual from my shower in the morning.
A few more colleagues joined in the celebrations.
"Go home", "File a bug on the roof", "Recycle the water - go green", "That's funny" - were some of the comments I was left with, along with rolls of laughter.
One of my colleagues couldn't stop guffawing. He finally stopped to say, "I hope you know I didn't mean to laugh!".
I stared at him hard - full of understanding. "Yeah right!".
Out of his supreme sense of guilt, he helped me tape a paper cup to the ceiling. The cup seemed to do a good job in holding the dirty rain drops. He left me with his parting comments, " So now all you have to do is watch out for the overflowing cup. Be sure to scoot right before the cup topples on your head."
I sat down with tripedition. I couldn't determine whether my situation just got better or worse. I decided to take matters in my wet hands. I called up Facilities.
They came by in raincoats. Took one look at the situation and moved my monitors away. My blue colored recycle bucket was placed right where my head used to be. I was told I was the 15th leak in the building and apparently I couldn't jump the line to be fixed. My leaky life had to be endured.
I have settled down in my new position. I watch the bucket filling up now, in addition to minding my Outlook Inbox. Colleagues smile and commiserate. Facilities have marked my emails as spam. My dreams of getting a free cubicle upgrade have already been shattered.
I wonder whether I would ever be able to tell stories about this "working" leak to my children?