“ASR! Thank you, I had a great time…!” Lavanya hugged ASR flinging her arms around his neck. He smiled. They were at her apartment. He had come to drop her after the dinner.
“Would you like to have a cup of coffee?” she asked him fondly. The red wine had played magic on both of them. He gazed at her and smiling said
“Not tonight, Lavanya, some other time.. I got to go now!”
“Ok! Good night ASR!” she kissed his cheek lightly and he drove away.
“I love you ASR!” murmured Lavanya opening the door of her apartment.
******* ********* *****
“Hello Babuji… I am going for an interview.. bless me!” Khushi ordered on phone.
“Babuji… you know? Its one month since we came here. Another two months to go… then we will be back to Lucknow… Hai Na? Babuji? You said only three months, right? … you know if I get a job today, I will work for two months… will be able to save some money to pay off the installments… !” she went on dreamily.
“Khushi, Bitiya… you will be late for the interview… all the best bitiya!” Babuji tried to stop her verbal train. She bit her tongue and disconnected the phone.
“Aate hain Buwaji…! I am going, Buwaji. I have to go to the temple and then go for the interview. Happy ji has given me the map.!” Her voice trailed as she had already reached the corner. Happy ji, her neighbor who ran an auto garage waved at her smiling…!”
She was in the Mandir, praying…”Devi Mayya.. only two months are remaining… please… if I get this job I will be able to earn for two months… then may be … I don’t know… but you should help me…!” she closed her eyes.
She was in the bus moving towards her destination, the bus had crossed Lalita Park and was moving towards Delhi Jal board …. A person boarded the bus. Khushi was busy looking out of the window. She was calculating the distance between her house and the place of work.
“Silly me!” she slapped her head. “This is only an interview place… the workplace must be somewhere else…!” she smiled.
“Yes, you are right!” came a voice from the next seat.
“Aap?” she was surprised. Sham smiled at her.
“Its more than a coincidence, Khushi ji!” he said pleasantly. She nodded.
“Jiji, told me yesterday!” she said.
“Yes, I met Buwaji on the road and see! Now met you in the bus!” he said in amazement. She had a broad smile on her face.
“How come you are here?” she asked curiously.
“Umm had some work here. I practice in Delhi High Court too!” he said proudly.
“I was going to the court ..!” he said. She looked at him in surprise.
"But.. High Court is in the opposite side?" she asked surprised.
“Umm I mean I will go to the hotel, change my attire and then go to the Court!” he said. She looked out of the window.
“Yeah.. Bank Enclave … I should get down here!” she looked at the map in her hand and got up suddenly and the bus stopped abruptly. She lost her balance but gained in time muttering furiously. Sham had got up to hold her.
“I am fine!” she said withdrawing her hand and moving away. She got down.
******** ********** **********
“Samazate Kya Hain Yeh Log Apane Aap Ko? What they think of themselves? Are we here to sell ourselves?... My foot! “ she muttered furiously.
“Aao, yahan baitho…My foot! I should have slapped him…!” Khushi came out of the building within five minutes after she was called inside for the interview. She was asked very indecent, awkward, personal questions and was asked whether she is ready to go for parties as escorts..”
She did not understand the question and looked at a particularly elderly person. He asked her about her vital statistics and about her figure… She somehow controlled her temper.
Uncle ji… Aap umar Se Bade Ho. Aap Ki Ijjat Karani Chaahiye! You are an elderly person and I should respect you, But you are not worth it. I don’t want this job..!” she marched out of the room.
“This is not done, Khushi! Aise to Naukari Milanese Rahi! I won’t get a job if I try like this…!” she was talking to herself.
“Aree Khushiji? Aap Aa gai?” Sham was walking with her. "I was going to the Court, thought of stopping by here to see if you are ok!" She did not respond. He looked at her face and understood. He took her to a tea vendor and offered her a strong cup of tea. She felt better.
“Khushi ji.. This is Delhi. People know how to take advantage…! You have to be careful..!” he told her in a soothing voice.
“What do I do, Shamji? I badly need a job…!” she felt better in his company. Sham completely sympathized with her. He thought for a while and then said.
“May be I can help you. I will give you an address. Go there and talk to the in charge . He will help you.” He said scribbling on a piece of paper. She took the paper and looked at it as if it was very precious. She smiled.
“Will I get a job here?” she asked. He nodded. “I am not sure about the payment, though!” he said raising his hands.
“Chalega… will do!” she said happily. “thank you, Sham ji!” she said with gratitude.
“Ok. Khushi ji.. I should leave now.” He said moving away and dialing a number.
********* ******** *********
“Give her the job. She will be of much use to us. Put her in records section…!” Sham ordered.
Khushi reached on the address… It was a big building which looked like a sophisticated warehouse. She entered and met the person in charge. He talked to her for a long time and then said…
“Sham babu had called. I can offer you a job in record keeping section. Looking at your education level.. you are only 12th pass, you can work as an assistant to the accountant. You will be paid Twelve thousand a month once you are on our payroll.
“You will work on probation for first two months… if your performance is good, you will be taken as our employee. During this period, you will get only ten thousand per month… If it is acceptable, join from tomorrow!” he said looking and gauging her reaction. She thought for a while. It was around 3 kilometers from her house. She calculated… and then said
“Yes, Sir! I will join from tomorrow!” she smiled. He gave her the terms and conditions document and said.
“Go through these and come tomorrow, if you accept the terms!” she nodded happily and came out.
She came out on the road and started walking down the distance. She was happy. Her devi mayya had decided to help her finally. She prayed while walking … muttering… thanking her devi mayya.
Screeching breaks broke her trance. She looked back angrily. A white SUV had stopped an inch behind her. Someone rolled down the glass and yelled. “Are you blind?”
“Are you?” She retorted back turning and thumping her hands on her hips. The person got down from the car..!
They looked at each other. “You!” they both screamed. Hatred and disgust mirrored on their faces. They glared at each other.