Ved called his best friend Ashok and said, “I’m tired of this life. I’m giving it all up. I thought I need to tell you because you are my best friend.”

Ashok did not expect from a good friend at the wee midnight hours. It took him a couple of minutes to gather his senses. His mind quickly processed the situation that Ved was in. He said, “I will not talk to you ever if you try to kill yourself.”

Ved started laughing. He said, “Did I say that I am going to commit suicide? I’m tired of running this company. We both started it together. So, I plan to relinquish my share in the company. I cannot run this business any more. I have been failing as a leader.”

To Ashok, this part of the news seemed to be worse than the idea of his friend committing suicide.

Ashok quickly gathered his senses and realized the situation. He said, “You are a great leader. Your achievements are a testimony to that fact. We both started the company together. But, you were the one who steered it towards success. You led us all to success and glory. Why do you let these two small mistakes ruin your idea of success? Did anyone question you in the company? Did anyone try to hamper with your reputation? Is there anything that I am missing? What is happening here? I cannot imagine True Valor without you. So many lives have been touched by your leadership. How can you ignore so many people?”

Ved said, “I’m so humbled to hear all this. But, I think I need a break. I badly need a break. I have been an slacker, of late. I better step out now in the nick of time before making a fool of myself. I have always tried to help people in their lives and with their goals. When I feel so aimless, it makes no sense to continue as a leader. Leaders are meant to build the world, not wander aimlessly. So, I have decided to call it quits. And, I have some good news for you.”

Ashok could not bear the idea of the company without Ved. He wanted to do anything to stop Ved from acting on his decision. But, he has known Ved since childhood and also knew how adamant Ved can be after taking a decision. Ashok realized it would not make any sense to talk to Ved on this topic. He decided to disconnect this call and talk to anyone else who can convince Ved. He could only think of Harika.

Ashok, in a bid to end the call sooner, said, “I don’t think any news can be good to me in this situation. It’s like you are leaving me alone in a battlefield. I know we are on the winning side, but I’m not sure how I can steer this army to a full-fledged and consistent victory. You have set high standards when it comes to the performance of a company. I’m pretty sure none of us can live up to those standards. Forget it. Tell me the good news.”

Ved said, “I have decided to marry Harika. I proposed to her last week. She immediately said that we both are too old for marriage. She never knew that forty is the new twenty. She accepted later and we both decided to quit this corporate life and settle in some countryside. I have already booked a nice bungalow in a hill station far from the city. We have it all planned.”

To Ashok, it appeared as though all this doors have been closed. He could not fathom the depth of the situation. He should have seen it coming. Ved was getting closer to Harika in the last few years. But, the advantage has been that both of them were too ambitious to spend their time in romance. But, their international travels together has helped them bond together. On one hand, Ashok felt glad that his best friend was finally getting married. On the other hand, he felt too bad for the company as it was losing two of its most dynamic leaders. Ashok was never confident enough about dealing with the operations. He was the best in crunching numbers and dealing with finances. But, he always failed when it comes to dealing with people and any processes related to people.

Without saying a single word, Ashok disconnected the call.

Ved smiled after looking at his phone as he expected this from his best friend.

Ashok called the other members of the board for a sudden midnight meeting. He informed them about this change and they were all overwhelmed. A couple of them panicked and worried about the reputation of the company in the market.

Ved called Harika and said, “We are all set. Do you want to plan the date and make arrangements? Or, do we get started immediately. You know that I do not believe in auspicious dates and time. And, I know you believe in them. So, I am giving you a chance.”

Harika retorted, “What do you mean? How can we be all set? How did Ashok respond? What about the shareholders?”

Ved said, “I was afraid he would fight with me. But, he knew about me. So, he disconnected the call in anger. He always did this in anger when he knew I would not change my decision. He is more productive under such situations. So, the company is in safe hands. If I know him right, he should call me in a few minutes and put forth some of his conditions. Normally, such conditions would not be so troubling for any of us. He always makes it easy for me and for all of us. Trust me, I can never get a best friend again like him. He is the best.”

Harika could not believe his words. She expected some tiff between the two top bosses. She said, “Alright. Let’s wait to hear those conditions. We’ll plan our life together after that. It might be a problem if he asks you or us to put in a few more months of work.”

Ved laughed and said, “He knows me too well. He can request that time. But, he knows for sure that I will not spend even a single minute with dedication. I will while away all the time at the expense of the company budget. He should be foolish to put across such conditions.”

Harika disconnected the call and waited in anticipation. She was not happy with the turn of events.

Ashok called Ved, as expected, after a few minutes and said, “Ved. You cannot go away all of a sudden like that.”

Ved wondered if he really is going to need extra time.

But, Ashok said, “We might have a problem with the media if you step out suddenly. You know how fast the grapevine works. So, I want you to announce in a gala party that you are stepping aside from the post of CEO and would continue as the head of the newly formed advisory committee. You will handhold the new members until you think that the company is safe to go on its own. But, you need not do anything. It is just for the media and for the board. I will take care of things. I do not want to trouble you with work even after you get married. I always felt bad that you remained single. Now, when you want to get married and enjoy your life, I should do my best to let you do so. And, one more thing. Please do not tell Harika also that the role of chief of advisory committee is just a namesake one. It should be a secret between both of us. I trust her. But, I do not want to take chances. Please help me.”

Ved agreed. He felt glad that Ashok owned up responsibility and is dealing with the situation smarter than he anticipated.

Ved called Harika and informed her about this new role.

Harika said that she will not marry him until he relinquishes all his duties with the company. Ved said he had to do this much for the company and his friend. They fight over it. Harika said she will not talk to him, ever.

Ved did not inform this to Ashok or everyone. He is gearing up for the announcement of his stepping aside from the role of CEO.

Harika met him the next day and said, “I’m sorry for everything that happened. I cannot live without you anymore. I have to tell you the truth. There is someone who made me say all that…”

Ved silenced with his fingers and said, “I know it all. But, I know that you love more than all of that. I wanted you to step out of that fear and prejudice. Now that there is only love between us, we can live happily forever.”

Harika was initially told my the competitors to make Ved and Ashok fight over the company and the roles. But, when things did not happen as planned, she started acting as though she was in love with Ved. But, slowly, she started falling in love with Ved. As a final stroke, she was asked to marry Ved and make him step out of the company. The competitors were pretty sure that the company would suffer. But, Ved and Ashok were smarter and handled the situation with a maturity unexpected from them.