Zero Percentile 2.0 - Prologue

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The stock market crash did not look extraordinary to the common man. Because of the ongoing worldwide recession, people had got used to the frequent and bloody mayhem at the stock exchange. What had happened was a sudden shedding of a thousand points. The trigger was the failure of a certain software company called NumeroSoft to take over the consulting company PureConsultants. Since NumeroSoft was a heavyweight on the exchange, people did not take the news lightly. The share price went into a downward spiral pulling the market down in its wake. It could have fallen more but for the circuit breaker which stopped all ongoing activities in the share market. This happening was so important that it got a mention on the first page of all the leading dailies of the country the next day. After all, it was the surprise failure of one of the biggest software shops in the country to acquire a relatively smaller company. And, the stock market punished NumeroSoft and itself heavily for this.

What also got covered in the following days’ editions were four other pieces of news, apparently unrelated to each other, but somehow connected with the happenings at PureConsultants and NumeroSoft. These were stories which covered the turmoil in the lives of Pankaj, Nitin – Pankaj’s friend from college, San – a brilliant mind who worked with Motu, and Priya who was a childhood friend of both Pankaj and Motu. What escaped attention were the personal tragedies of Jaanvee and Tanya, since they did not involve blood and gore, and thereby could not bring the shock value necessary to make them newsworthy items.

Motu, as he was fondly called by his friends since childhood, should have read the news of the failed takeover bid over PureConsultants with pride because he was its founder and had successfully thwarted the efforts of a very hostile NumeroSoft. But he was not happy. In fact, he wanted to cry. It was a long, bitter fight for control which went on for a long time, and he was completely exhausted when it ended.

On another front, he had forgotten the bitterness of so many years and was not afraid of picking the threads from where they had left them. He decided to call Pankaj before going to pick him up. The phone rang till it got disconnected. He then tried calling him at his home number, but it continuously gave a busy tone as if it was deliberately kept off the hook. Slightly bewildered, he left home. They had decided to go to the funeral ceremony at 10:00 a.m. together.

The door was opened by the butler. Not surprised, he climbed the stairs to Pankaj’s room.
‘Is Pankaj awake?’ he asked on the way up.

‘No, sir. The light in his room was on till three in the morning. He must have been busy with something. So I decided not to wake him up.’

It was 8:00 a.m., unusually late for Pankaj to be sleeping. Pankaj had lived alone for many years after Priya moved out of the house, preferring not to remarry. Motu knocked on

the door. It was not bolted from inside. He waited for a few seconds and then entered.
‘Hi Pankaj, this is me, Motu. Will you get up now please? I know you don’t like me anymore. But you don’t have a choice as the stubborn me is never going to go out of your life. So get up.’

Pankaj did not respond. Motu stood on the side of his bed for a few seconds and then reached out to stir him. After that he used his cordless phone to make an emergency call