“Ms Gupta!” called Mishra Sir. She got up and went to his table.
“There is a problem. I mean… I don’t know how to tell you this.. but...!” Mishra fumbled.
“What is it sir?” she asked.
“Umm two of the boxes are missing….!” He dropped the bomb. He could see the explosion on her face. She looked ghostly.
“What?” there was a long pause. “Bu… But I carried everything inside…!” she said aghast. Mishra nodded.
“I know, beti… but the fact is, there was no one. We have a delivery note which states ‘Delivery at door, with no inspection!’. The material is inside now! And you are the last person to handle it…! We cannot get the material inside without inspection...!” he felt sorry for her.
“Someone has taken advantage of this… someone who knew she did it!” He thought seriously. She was in deep trouble. The lost material was of very high value. She stood there with a blank face.
“B..But sir… I mean I tried to save the material….!” She did not understand why she was blamed. Mishra had no answer.
“Beti… the process does not have heart and mind…. ! It does not care for the intentions … it only sees the procedure …!” he said gravely. She surely had broken the rules. She sat on the chair, not knowing what to do.
“But sir… I had to take measures to save the goods…!” she could only say. “I know, beti! There was no one around and you had no time…!” he said.
“But sir…. I told you, a person had come to help me. But you said, the security guards will lose their jobs, for keeping the gates unattended, if I tell this to anyone. A stranger intruded …. !” she couldn’t continue further.
“Beti… this does not stop here. You are working for different section. This material is from different section. You had no authority to handle it!” he explained the gravity of the problem.
“But.. I just tried to save it!” she was still unable to understand.
“Sir, I think before it gets out of our hands, we must call the police…!” Prashant was standing there staring at her.
“Police….?” She asked aghast. Mishra raised his hand.
“Prashant, please… let me handle this..!” he turned to Khushi and said.
“Go back to your place, Khushi beti! And do not work today. Your system had to be locked. I will handle this!” she went back to her place completely doomed.
************* ********** ************
“What?” ASR got up from his chair.
“Yes Sir..! “ said the person on the other side over the phone. There was a silence for a while and then ASR spoke in a deadly voice.
“Ok! I will handle it!” he disconnected the phone.
“Aman…!” he yelled. Aman came hurriedly in.
“What happened to the interim audit? Where are the reports?”
“Umm.. they are getting ready…umm.. There seem to be problems Sir!” Aman said hesitantly, not sure about ASR’s reaction.
“I know!” said ASR gravely. “Ask Aakash to meet me!” he ordered.
“Bhai..!” Aakash was sitting before him.
“Bhai.. I talked to the auditor. There seems to be problem in both… our raw material as well as our export consignments…. Someone knows our processes very well and taking advantage of that… ! Aakash said gravely.
“I know… but we have to find out…!” ASR was serious. They were losing their material and it was going unaccounted.
“Call the meeting of our stores heads!” He said. Aakash nodded. ASR looked down at the empty looking office. “Where is everyone?” he asked angrily.
“Umm.. Bhai .. bus and auto strike declared this afternoon…! Some preferred to go early. I allowed them..!” he said looking at ASR’s reaction.
“Strike?” he lost in his thoughts. Two frightful eyes gazed at him… !
“Ok! Aakash, I want those reports tomorrow morning…!” he dismissed his brother.
“No! This is not done…! This girl is driving me to the edge…!” he blurted.
Lavanya entered. “ASR… um.. What are you doing this evening? I mean.. can we go on long drive?” she wrapped her arm around his. He felt better in her company. He nodded.
“Great! I will get ready… !” she said excitedly and went away hurriedly, oblivious to any of his problems. He gazed at her beautiful figure.
“Who the hell is doing this?” he was unable to comprehend. The growl in his mind became louder. He went back to Gomati River…A dog was following him… he came running into the house… A gunshot echoed ….! “No! Mamma!” he screamed and came back to present. He picked up his car keys… waiting for Lavanya!
“Police..?” she couldn’t comprehend. There was no one to pull her out of this mess….!
“Sham ji?” she thought to herself. “May be, I should ask him…!”. A growl echoed in her mind.
“Khushi beti…!” Mishra Sir was standing before her. She got up from her chair. He felt a knot in his stomach looking at her ghostly face. All her liveliness was snatched away. She was the happiest person in the morning and now? She was painted as a criminal… a thief…!
“Beti… don’t worry! Let us see what can be done. I will talk to my boss! Let us see what happens. But please, be present whenever you are called…! And pray your devi mayya…!” he said pitying her. She nodded. Tears welling up, she batted her eyelids to send them back.
“I have not done anything wrong… Hey Devi Mayya, Raksha karana… !” a faint sob left her mouth.
She was on the road. Her problems were not over yet. She came to the deserted bus stop. She waited for a long time. An elderly person came to her and said “there is a strike … No busses or Autos…! There is no metro from here! The nearest station is two miles away..!” she looked for the time. It was already six in the evening. Traffic was considerably less on the roads…! She started walking down the road with her wounded heel.
A car stopped an inch away from her.
“Hello.. can I help you? Where do you want to go?” a middle aged person was asking her rolling down the glass. She looked confused. “Laxmi nagar!” words left unknowingly.
“Oh, good! I am going that side… Come I will drop you…! I know there is a strike…!” he said kindly smiling at her. She stood there rooted to the ground. He opened the door for her.