“KHUSHI..! where are you going? Its Sunday today..!” Payal said in a louder tone.
“No Jiji, I have to go. I have to work extra. You know what? Woh Amit ji hai na? That Amit ji requested me to do his work. He is not coming for next two days. I said I will help and complete his work also. You know, he is a nice person. He helped me a lot in data entry….” She said going out of the house packing her tiffin box. Payal shook her head hopelessly.
Khushi reached her office to see no one around. She came to her place and saw her system on.
“What?” she blurted. She looked around. “Who started my system? Bhoot?” she got scared.
“bhoot?” someone called from behind and she turned with a jerk. Her colleague Prashant was standing before her.
“I started it… but didn’t know your password…” he said. Khushi wore a question mark on her face. "I wanted to extract the email. The consignment will be delivered anytime and we got to arrange for its placement. Its weekly off for everyone” he clarified. She nodded.
“What is your password?” he asked authoritatively.
“umm DEVIMAYYA!” she said reluctantly. He went away.
Mishra ji entered wiping off sweat from his forehead. She went to his table. He smiled at her.
“Ms Gupta. It will take some time to set the records right. Nothing serious.. its only an erroneous entry and will get rectified…!” he said calmly glancing at the other end of the office. Prashant was engrossed with his work.
Khushi went back to her place and buried herself in work. “Ms Gupta.. I am going.. you finish your work, inform the security and leave. He will lock the office” she smiled and nodded.
It was 3:30 in the afternoon. Khushi was having her tea and she heard grinding sound .. She looked around and came out. Sun had disappeared. The sky had clouded over. Visibility was minimal. She shuddered with flash of lighting followed thunder clap. “Hey Devi Mayya, Raksha karana… protect me!” she prayed hard. She was trembling with fright. She looked ahead and froze. The consignment was delivered. The boxes were laid down under the temporary make shift Tarpaulin shelter. The supporting poles were swaying with the wind. She knew, anytime the entire structure of the shelter will crash down. There was no one around. She had to do some damage control. She ran inside, picked up the phone.
“Hello Sir!” she was panting. She told the situation. Mishra thought for a second.
“Ms Gupta. There are emergency phone numbers in my diary. Please get that” he said. She obeyed.
“Yes sir, I got your diary… “ She read out a few numbers …
“Ok. Call this number, there will be someone in that office. Call for help from head office…!” he said
“Ok Sir!” She heard the tapping sound..”Oh my God!” she grew panic. Shakily, she dialed head office number.
“Hello…!” someone picked up… “Hello, security wale bhaisaab… please send someone here.. the consignment is dropped outside and it might start raining anytime. Send someone .. we have to take the boxes inside… “ she started off hurriedly. She gave the office address and said… please.. send as soon as possible…!
There was no time for her to think or wait for some help. She looked around tied her dupatta around her waist and ran outside. She tried to pick up a box. It was too heavy. She dragged it inside with efforts. She straightened herself up. There were twenty four more boxes. The pitter patter had picked up pace. The poles were swaying dangerously.
She saw a fork-lift electric vehicle parked at the corner. She ran there and took the key from the hook and ignited the engine. She sat on the dirver seat. She did not know what to do next.
“Ok I have seen dirver babu pushing some levers” She thought aloud. She looked down and pushed a lever away from her. The vehicle moved forward. She moved another leaver.. the fork lift attached to it raised from the ground. She pulled a lever, the vehicle moved backwards..
“Ok. Got it! This is simple… ! Its like my scooty..!” she smiled and moved the vehicle…
She brought it out. Got down from the vehicle. Lifted the boxes one by one and piled up on the fork. She could arrange five in one batch. It already had started pouring in.
She moved the vehicle backwards and brought it inside in a clearing. She off loaded the boxes and hurried back driving the vehicle.
The thunder storm was roaring. She placed one box on the fork and bent down to lift the second one. The entire shelter came crashing down on her. She got buried under the blue tarpaulin sheet. She screamed in fright, fighting to come out of it. Thunder clapping numbed her nervous system. She closed her eyes in fright and prayed her devi mayya.
“No.. I have to save these boxes!” she said loudly and started crawling out of it. She suffocated under it. She looked around and saw a metal strip. She picked it up and piercing it through the Tarpaulin slid it down tearing it to breath. A car stopped with screeching brakes and someone lifted the Tarpaulin sheet. She could breathe fresh air.
“Thank God!” she prayed and came out.
Bending down she screamed the orders. "Pick the boxes and place them on this. I will carry them inside. She lifted one with effort. Someone threw away his coat and started lifting the boxes. She drove the vehicle inside and off loaded the boxes.
She came out and saw the person lifting the boxes …
“Jaldi Jaldi Uthaaiye… Come on hurry up..!” she shouted. The person straightened up and looked at her.
She lost her control. Instead of pulling the lever, she pushed it speeding it up. She went head on at him. He dodged in time and yelled.
“Stop it!” she was numb. She did not know what she was doing and went straight and banged on the Tarpaulin debris. The vehicle overturned and she was flat on the ground face down.
“CAREFUL…!” the person shouted and ran forward. He lifted her up and looked at her face. Suddenly it was repelling movement from both the sides. Both of them glared at each other. He came back to his senses first.
“Out of my way! I will handle it!” he said pushing her aside. The water streams had already started seeping under the boxes. There was no time to think.
He lifted the boxes two at a time and placed them. She jumped on the vehicle and took the wheel.
“No! Don’t!” he shouted.. but before he could stop her she was inside the building with the vehicle. He ran inside to help her.
They came out for the last lot. She carried it inside and was off loading it furiously muttering ….
“Stop! Let me do it!” he said loudly and she turned with the box, slipped on the floor and was flat again, this time face up, the box falling on her foot with a thud. She screamed in pain. He came running and lifted the box first. She tried to get up.
“Wait!” he yelled bending down and lifted her easily. He made her sit on the chair. She clutched her bleeding heel. He sat down to inspect her wound.
“No!” she took her leg back looking at him angrily. He too glared at her angrily and got up.
“OK! Bleed to death..! I don’t care!” he snapped and turned to arrange the boxes.
“You?... How did you come in? Where is the security?” she screamed in retaliation. She went to her table limping and took out her hand kerchief. She sat on the chair and tried to tie it. He came back angrily and snatched it from her. “Stop fussing..!” he ordered with gritted teeth and tied it to her heel to stop the bleeding. He kept glaring at her angrily.
“Security ..!” she screamed at the top of her voice.
“Shut up!” he yelled over her scream.
“Get out of here!” she ordered pointing her finger. He came on to her… “Haath neeche!” He warned her in a deadly voice. She winced in fright. Smirk appeared on his face.
“Why are you here? Just get out of this place.. else I will call the security!” she said in equally deadly voice.
“What? I saved your boxes..!” he said looking at her angrily for her ungrateful behavior.
“Who asked you to come here? I would have managed…!” she retorted.
“Go to hell then..!” he yelled moving away to go out.
“I would prefer hell to your hel...P!” she shouted back. He stopped and turned back.
Her phone rang…
“Hello?” she responded. “Haan! Hello, Sham ji! Yes.. I am fine… no.. no! No need to come. I will manage…!” she said softly over the phone.
“What are you waiting for?” she got up from the chair and kept her wounded foot on the floor.
“Ouch!” she winced in pain. He took a step forward to help her.
“No!” she raised her hand. “I can manage!” she said taking a step ahead in pain.
“OK!” he shrugged and turned his back on her.
“No!” she screamed clasping her palms on her ears and sat down in fright. The thunder bolt made a deafening sound.
She looked up after a while. He was right in front of her. She got up.
“Now?” he asked her narrowing his eyes gauging her.
“Stay here.. till someone comes!” she ordered him. He folded his arms on his chest and curled up his lip in a lopsided smile.
The thunder storm made her wince again. She clutched on to his arm closing shut her eyes. After a while, she limped back to her chair and sat clutching her wounded foot. He stood there staring at her.
“Hey Devi Mayya… Please, please send someone…! Please.. I can’t be with this Monster for a long time…!” she muttered.
“What? What did you say?” he came on to her. She fumbled.
“No.. Nothing…!” she tried to smile at him. His eyes flashed. She looked around and remembering something, rumbled in her bag and took out Tiffin box.
“Hmm.. have one!” she had a paratha roll in her outstretched hand. He brought disgust on his face.
“No? OK!” she took it back shrugging and dug her teeth in it. He watched her flabbergasted. She took out jilebee and said,
“Would like to have?” she thought she was polite enough to ask him. But he thought otherwise.
“Shut up!” he yelled and she busied herself with paratha and jelabee, humming a song in between her munching. She was enjoying his disgust.
He moved away… the rain outside had subsided a bit.
“What? Where are you going?” she limped behind him seeing him going out. He smirked looking back enraging her further.
“By the way, what are you doing here?” she asked him questioningly.
He did not answer. “Who let you in? You intruder…!” gulping jilebees had given her enough courage. He did not answer.
“Come! I will drop you at your place!” his arrogant tone made her mad.
“No!” she yelled. "Ok!" He shrugged and moved out.
“Thank you for helping!” she shouted from behind. He looked at her from outside standing in the rain. Both of them were drenched completely. “Though you are not worth it!” she added further.
“Its only a formality…!” she looked at him in hatred. He clenched his fists in rage and vanished.
She kept praying her devi mayya in fright. She heard the footsteps and the security guards came running in.
“Sorry..! We couldn’t reach in time because of the thunder storm!” both the guards were apologetic. She did not answer. The rain had stopped completely.
“I should be going now!” she said getting up from her chair and limped out of the office.
“Thank you madam ji! You saved us…! You saved our jobs by saving these boxes..!” both the security guards were overwhelmed by her kindness. She smiled.
“Madam ji.. wait here I will arrange for an auto..!” one of them said running out.
“No need… I will get it at the gate!” she said and came out of the office. A white SUV raced past her splashing water and drenching her more. She muttered all the bad words she knew biting her lower lip furiously.
She did not know, this thunder shower was to turn her world upside down…!