Pete was hurrying up at the Times Square like any other New Yorker on a weekday, barking and hustling through the crowd during the rush morning hours to reach his workplace. It was a nice bright Thursday Spring morning. On the way, he dashed against a passer by and was drenched in the hot coffee spilled all over his shirt by the dashing opponent. And Pete said to himself, ‘God, please tell me that this is the only incidence for today where Murphy has played his role.’
Pete entered his work building. Macy at the reception greeted him as everyday. Pete smiled at her and rushed into his office. He opened his cabinet and took out a new shirt (this was not the first time he had coffee all over him and had learnt his lesson) and replaced the wet one on his body. He then sat and took a deep breath! Just then the phone rang. It was from the New York University where he was supposed to engage in a guest lecture on disaster management. They wanted him to come in earlier than expected as heavy rains were predicted for later that day. Pete agreed and started off for the University.
Pete worked at the United Nations and was currently stationed at their Headquarters as a Humanitarian Affairs Officer. His main area of work included providing humanitarian assistance/disaster relief in emergency situations. He virtually collaborated with the numerous folks on the field, helping them in planning and ensuring the necessary support by providing policy advice grounded in international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles. He did all this via sitting in New York – Be it be preparing a briefing for the Humanitarian Council on the situation of the mudslides in Badakhshan, Afghanistan; or working with a dedicated team as far lorn as Argo city in Afghanistan to help put together operational emergency response strategies; or be it helping in raising funding appeals for the floods in South Africa; or giving guest lectures in New York University in disaster management…..everything was done being in New York.
This was partly because he loved New York and did not want to go anywhere else. He did have small stints in Somalia and Kenya but those were for two months. At the end of one month itself he used to start getting unsettled and yearned to back to New York, to his den reading in the dim light while trying to sleep on his bed. He did not mind the difficult conditions on the field but being home was what he always looked for ward to. He adored New York city. The 24*7 energy and constant motion gave him a boost each day when he stepped out of his den. And so he took up this role at UN Headquarters.
Pete was the only child of his parents – Bill and Linda Becket. They lived in Philadelphia, a less than 5 hour drive from New York. Pete visited them every weekend, or most weekends when he did not have to work. Bill was a Real Estate Agent and he never truly understood Pete’s overwhelming interest in volunteering work that he took it as a career. Linda was more grounded and adored her son like any other mother would. Her relationship with Pete was much profound and they had this unwavering bond which tightly encompassed them. Linda was an archaeologist and currently was on sabbatical to be at home and relax.
He hailed a taxi for New York University. Just then his mom called.
Linda interrogated, “Did you receive the invitation card for Bethany’s marriage?”
Pete had received the card. Bethany was Pete’s schoolmate and neighbour back in Philly. Pete lied saying,
“No, I have not! Who is the unlucky chap anyways.”
Linda said, “Stop lying, you have received the card.”
Pete with wrinkles on his forehead replied, “Ya ok, I have received the card but I am not coming. I have work to do Mom, people may be stranded on some broken bridge at that time and they would need me.”
Linda wickedly replied, “Stop acting like Batman and showcasing your pursuit to save Gotham…..pack your bags and come over this weekend for the marriage. Or else Batman’s mother has enough tricks up her sleeves to drag her son wherever she wants him to be”
Pete giving up sighed, “Ok I will come…just do not do something to embarrass me”
Linda gave a nice hearty laugh and said, “Love you son, see you over the weekend in a black tie” and hung up.
Pete hung up and saw out of the window to realize he was still at the same spot as he was 20 minutes ago. It had already started pouring and the traffic was not moving forward at all. He cursed Murphy again under his breath and looked through the window. There was a kid with his mother who refused to be under the umbrella and preferred to get wet in the rain. A guy was trying to cover the bunch of roses in his hand protecting it from getting wet. Pete wondered if those roses were for a proposal tonight or for a hospital visit. There was teenager on a call talking animatedly and Pete pondered bet she is gossiping with her girl friend.
40 minutes passed and the traffic did not move. By now it had started raining heavily and Pete gave up the idea of going to the University. He got out of the cab and ran into the nearest Dunkin Donuts. He called up the University to apologize and rescheduled the lecture. He then bought a coffee and sat at a corner table waiting for the rain to calm down not knowing what Murphy exactly had in mind for him.
Looking out of the glass door, he spotted a full bloomed rainbow. And then his cell rang. It was an unknown number. Contemplating on whether to answer or not to answer that call and looking intently at the seven colours, he thought I want to chase that rainbow!