The telephone buzzed. The receptionist informed that a new associate, Kavita, who'd be joining the company, wished to see me. The moment I entered the visitor's area, Kavita got up from the sofa to greet me. A sweet kid, I thought, who was enormously charming. I did not know her. I had not interviewed her for the job. She sort of knew me.

She told me, pronto, with childlike innocence, "I'd recognise you, thanks to your photograph."

I asked her where, and she said on the 'Net'. Her winsome smile was natural, radiant and magnetic.

A couple of weeks later, she was drafted as my assistant. It took a few days for us to know each other, our likes, dislikes, as also idiosyncrasies– and as some weeks rolled by, a special bond emerged between us. She became my daughter, a daughter like no other.

Well, the quintessential aspect of it all was seemingly mystical– a mindful 'connect', perhaps, from distinctive memes. She reciprocated with a like-minded intent.

It was not made-up, doubtless, because I was her immediate boss–no, not at all.

The archetypal element of her spontaneity was not only genuine and pristine, it was also natural, a mutually shared response. She began to call me 'Pops' outside of office, and this quickly became the norm in and outside of our workspace, or elsewhere.

It was like family before long.

My wife became quite fond of Kavita, even before she met her.

She too, I was convinced, saw her long-cherished daughter in her, just as much as our two sons relate to her as their doting sister and friend.

While Kavita's husband, and his parents, got to know us well, Kavita's parents were no less friendly.

The real icing on the cake was when Kavita– I call her Kavi – became first-time mom to a remarkably alluring, delightful child. It was super celebration time for us all.

It has been well over two years since I disengaged from the company. Kavitatoo followed suit, a year later. We continue to be in regular touch, aside from visiting each other's residence, albeit occasionally– and, if not at one's place, because of the distance and the awfully infuriating traffic jams, no less, somewhere in-between, or halfway, unlike before while we're working in office.

As COVID-19 'horribilis' ravages on, a sinister bugbear, as it has been for everyone, everywhere, besides the periodic lockdowns, we haven't met for more than a year too–what with the universal succour being the mobile phone, or video call.

This has eased the quiescence, or 'suspended animation', of our long conversationsover lunch at our favourite restaurant.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 01, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.