“Look at these motifs, bhai… they are just amazing…! Traditional and intricate!” Aakash fell short of words in appreciating the work.
“Aakash… show these to our designers…!” Arnav dismissed Aakash. Aakash was little disappointed. Lavanya entered ASR’s cabin.
“Lavanya, take these to our design department… see if we can use these..!” ASR pointed at the chinkaari Work.
“Eyuk..! So old fashioned!” she opined. Aakash looked furious.
“Old fashion is a fashion now!” ASR snapped her.
“Take these, Lavanya. Let the creative head decide!” ASR said sternly. She collected the samples and went away.
“Bhai, the workmanship is just amazing…!” said Aakash dreamily.
“Since when did you start taking interest in these things Aakash? We are only the facilitators. Let design team decide!” ASR was surprised. Aakash looked away.
“No.. I mean.. she does it so well!” Aakash blurted. Arnav stared piercingly at his cousin.
“She?” he asked suspiciously. Aakash hurriedly went out. Arnav shrugged.
********* ****** ********
She went into the meeting room to face the same set of people with some additions.
“So this is your last day as trainee, right?” asked a person in blue suit. She nodded, fidgeting nervously. There started some internal discussion about the modalities. Khushi looked at the additional person attending this meeting. He was an elderly person with bulging belly. She kept glancing at Mishra. He refrained from looking at her. She did not know what to do. No one was paying any attention to her. She was more nervous. She wanted to run away from that place. “Devi Mayya, raksha karana!” she prayed closing her eyes. Suddenly there prevailed a silence and she opened her eyes, wishing everything vanished.
Everyone was looking at the door and he walked in. She struggled to get up. “You?” she blurted. He completely ignored her and went to take the center seat. Men on either side of him started briefing him. He was not looking at her. She had got up from her seat with her jaw dropped.
“Welcome Mr. Raizada!” Sethi got up from his seat, shaking hands with him. So did everyone else.
She looked at Mishra. “Owner of the material!” whispered Mishra.
“What?” She gaped at him and slowly sat on the chair.
‘I have not asked you to sit!” he snarled looking at her. She got up with a jerk. There was no recognition in his eyes. He looked a complete stranger.
“Bhai, the theft case is to be decided. About the other matters, we already got the report ! Her tenure is over. She will be relieved!” He still was not looking at her.
“No! She cannot leave until the enquiry is over! We cannot trust her!” he declared looking at the tall person, his cousin Aakash.
“But… her tenure got over today!” blurted Mishra. Khushi took this opportunity and opened her mouth.
“I don’t want to continue, sir. I want to go back to my parents!” she said politely stealing a glance at him.
“This, you should have thought before stealing the material!” he snapped. She shuddered.
“What?” she was really shocked. Her anger was getting out of bound. “I didn’t do anything! I am not a thief..! And you were…!” she flared up raising her finger and realizing what she was doing, took her hand down in a blink. She could sense his “Haath Neeche!” glare.
“Mr. Sethi, Mr. Mishra, She will be transferred to my office till we decide on the issues! If she is proved guilty, she will have to pay for the material! ” he stated, paused and then continued, “whether to hand over the case to the police or not, I will decide!” All of them nodded. He looked straight into her eyes. She spat anger. He glared wickedly. She felt helpless.
“But, Sir, why? I mean.. I .. I want…to go…! She started off weakly.
“Ok! Aakash, report this to the police, as she doesn’t want to cooperate..!” he ordered.
“No!..” fright replaced her anger. He was enjoying her anguish.
“No, Sir. She will stay till the issues get resolved!” Mishra assured on her behalf.
“I will extend her training period!” he went ahead.
“No.. Sir.. I..want to go back to Lu..” her voice trailed.
“Ok! Pay for the material..! Its cost is 17 Lacs 23 thousand…!” He looked at her curling up his lip, the meaning only she could understand. The color on her face drained down.
“Bu.. but I didn’t steal anything…!” she looked straight into his eyes. He raised his eyebrow. She knew she was trapped.
“Enough! “ he raised his voice raising his hand to stop her. “Mr. Mishra, arrange for her transfer and give her the new address. Issue a notice of enquiry!” he turned to her, “Your duty starts at seven in the morning in the new office!” he looked very seriously at her. She flared up her nose and could smell the smirk.
He got up and came around, went up to the door, opened it and said “You may go now!” she gaped at him with open mouth and walked past him.
“Never wanted to see me, is it?” she heard a disdainful whisper and the door shut on her back with a thud. She winced.
“Hhmh!” she clenched her fists. “He did it! Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada…! The revengeful monster!! I feel like….” she muttered furiously digging her nails in her fists.
“Yeh samazata kay hain apane aap ko? What does he think of himself?” she started knotting her dupatta and unknotting it nervously.
“I.. I will not leave him… I will teach him a lesson. He knows.. I haven’t done anything… He… he is a monster..!” she concluded. Stood at her place for a second and dashed out.
When she came back, she had a pack of jilabees in her hand and she was eating the jilebee enjoying its taste. Others gaped at her. She looked up at the meeting room and asked.. “Finished meeting?” they all shook their heads. She shrugged and started working.
******** ********* ********
The meeting room door opened and ASR came out. He walked like a conqueror, paused at her place for a second, looked at her..She ignored him completely and continued her gaze on her screen, Jilebee box open on her table. He seemed little surprised and marched out of the office.
She turned her back and started talking to her colleague feeling relaxed. Within a couple of minutes he marched back into the office and went straight to the meeting room. Everyone gaped at him silently. He wore a frown on his face. Khushi’s eyes followed him blankly. He disappeared in the room and she wore a broad smile on her face.
“Aakash give me your car keys! I have a flat tire!” he said standing at the door.
“Oh! Ok. I will ask someone to change the tire” Sethi got up from his seat.
“You have to change all four!” he snapped and snatched the keys from Aakash.
“I will send the car back, Aakash!” he said and went out of the room.
He was descending the stairs and he saw her eating jilebees, shaking her leg and humming…! He clenched his fists and went out enraged…!
“Welcome to hell, Ms Khushi Kumari Gupta!” he thought smirking. “You will repent having me in your office Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada !” she muttered seeing him going out.