“Black suits you well,” Deepak said as I was entering the room. I mouthed a thank you and went to my desk. I knew his eyes were following me and adoring my body. The thought excited me and a smile appeared on my face.

I am an assistant art director at Vision Communications, one of the leading advertising firms of the country. Deepak is the copywriter and creative director. When I joined the company 8 months ago he had already put in more than 6 years. He was exceptionally good at his job and was the most creative person in the company. Even though his designation was senior copywriter, he did whatever he wanted—direction, photography, makeup, painting, story-boarding, etc.

“You should know all the jobs and how each job fits in the overall picture to become excellent in what you are doing,” that was his advice to all new recruits. He told them not to be afraid of trying their hand in areas outside their specialization; in fact, he encouraged them. Unlike most seniors in the company, he was not afraid of fresh talent as he was confident about his abilities and strived constantly to improve them.

From day one I liked him. The fact we shared the same alma mater was the ice breaker. Soon I found myself going to him on the pretext of asking some doubts. He didn’t mind; actually I thought he enjoyed spending time with me.

One day he took me along for a client meeting. He introduced me as his assistant. The client team knew him and had a very high opinion about him and his work. He charmed them and got us a major contract. During lunch one of the executives of the client company asked me how long I have been working with him. “Six months,” I replied. “Then you must be someone very special!” he exclaimed. “I have known Deepak for the last four years and he never brought anyone with him for the meetings.” I tried very hard not to blush, but was not very successful.

After the business lunch, which was a coffee and sandwich affair, we left the client’s office. On the drive back Deepak told me that he was hungry and wanted to have a proper lunch. We stopped at Casa Piccola, one of the best Italian restaurants in the city. Both of us loved Italian food. We ordered two beers, a Carbonora, a Golden Delight Pizza, a Chicken Lasagne, and two Tiramisu slices. We sipped the beer while waiting for the food.

Suddenly Deepak took a big gift wrapped box from his bag, handed to me, and said “Happy Birthday Shivani!”

I was thunderstruck. I had forgotten that it was my birthday.

“How did you know?” I asked incredulously.

He smiled; “I interviewed you and there it was in your resume.”

“That was a long time ago,” I told him.

“Yes, but I really liked you then and there and I have a good memory!” he smiled and winked.

“Are you not going to open that?” he asked. I nodded and opened the packet. There, in a very nice box was a stunning magenta saree.

“Do you like it?” He asked. “You always look good in black.” He added.

“I love it. It is very beautiful,” I told him as I loved the saree. Also, I didn’t want him to know that he was color-blind!


  1. Maya said,

    October 31, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Alexis, I didn’t know that you wrote stories. I really like the ‘First Kiss’ story that you wrote sometime back. But then I didn’t know whether it was a story or real incident ;-). Anyway, good story. Continue writing. Wish you best.

  2. Bindu said,

    October 31, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Wow – Another talent unfolding.. you work magic with your words – high time a fiction of your came out.
    The twist in the tale was good 🙂

  3. Paresh said,

    October 31, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    How can be such a pro in whatever you do? 🙂

  4. Jane said,

    October 31, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Magenta or black, its the thought that mattered…
    Good story whether fact or fiction… Keep ’em coming, Alexis.
    I so agree with Paresh….
    How do you manage to be a jack of all trades and be a master too in everything? 🙂

  5. S said,

    October 31, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    The punch line….hilarious!
    The build up….could have been tighter.

  6. Rahul said,

    November 1, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Nice attempt. But you need to improve a lot. I agree with S about the narrative–it could have been tighter. Also the ending is very predictable. I could tell what was going to happen the firt paragraph. You need more practice and do read some book on the craft of writinng. I wish you better luck next time.

  7. Alexis Leon said,

    November 1, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Maya: Thank you. This is my fist story. And for the record, the First Kiss was part fiction but most of it happened.

    Bindu: Thanks Bindu. Nice to know that you liked the story.

    Paresh: I am not a pro in everything that I do, even though I try to do my best. There are problems with the story as obvious from the comments below :-(.

    Jane: Thanks Jane. It is fiction. I am not a master, this is my fist story.

    S: Thank you for your comments and suggestions.

    Rahul: Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I will read books on writing and practice the craft as you have advised.

  8. S said,

    November 1, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    @Rahul: Your criticism (note I haven’t used the word critique) reminds me of this quote I read on critics.

    ” Critics have their purposes, and they’re supposed to do what they do, but sometimes they get a little carried away with what they think someone should have done, rather than concerning themselves with what they did.” –
    Duke Ellington

    A suggestion, if I may, do take a leisurely stroll through Alexis’ blog and you may well change your mind about the gentleman’s dexterity as a writer.
    As for him reading up on the craft of writing, may I direct your critical eye to the link,’On Writing a Book” on the right bar of this page. I do believe you will be pleasantly surprised!
    All the best.

    @Alexis: A little something as you take up the ‘suggestion’ offered!

    Do not put statements in the negative form.
    And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
    If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
    great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
    Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
    Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
    De-accession euphemisms.
    If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
    Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
    Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
    ~William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing”

    😉 All the best!

  9. TME said,

    November 1, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    I liked the suspense……:)

  10. Alexis Leon said,

    November 1, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Thulasy: Thank you Thulasy.

  11. Rahul said,

    November 1, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    @S: What is your problem? Are you the only person who can criticize. I asked him to read books on writing for improving his skills and I stand by what I have written.

    Now regarding your advice to Alexis; I think Great Rules of Writing by WS is quite old. You can violate most of the rules.

    Please read the book “Breaking the Rules: Liberating Writers through Innovative Grammar Instructions” by Edgar H. Schuster. You will find that most of the rules that you have mentioned could be (or rather should be) broken without any loss of clarity and beauty.

  12. S said,

    November 1, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    @Rahul: My ‘advice’ to Alexis was a tongue in cheek response to your suggestion!
    Oh! I have absolutely no problem. Do go ahead and voice your opinion….last I checked, we still live in a democracy! 🙂 However I would like to point out that I offered a critique as opposed to your criticism.
    I’m also sure Alexis is doubled over laughing his guts out at this little spat!
    So peace bro!

  13. S said,

    November 3, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    The Noticer – Andy Andrews
    The Immortals of Melhua – Amish
    The Forty Rules of Love – Elif Shafak
    ………superb reads!