A young executive was nervously biting her nails, the creases on her forehead looked like those on a crumpled cotton cloth, trailing around her temple. She was wearing black formals with stilettos that stood an inch above the earth. In her right hand she held a green office file with a note attached on the top, slid under a plastic name badge. She was squatted on the sofa with her legs in a ninety degree angle to the tiled flooring, while her back was away from the rest of the sofa. She was positioned as if she was raring to jump off the couch and dart into the Manager's cabin like a zebra.
"Anna Mathew" shouted the PR executive daintily dressed in a chiffon saree.
"Yes madam, it's me" she replied
She stood up with a jerk much like a camel cobbling up a sea of dust. She paused to breathe for a minute and then slowly and steadily with the grace of a tortoise walked into the Manager's room. She was tensed, down to her last taut muscle and it took her sometime to seat herself. The room was a rectangular one or a square it seems, with Venetian blinds veiling the windows on either sides. The furniture was futuristic, with a sleek desk and chairs of black and white colour standing on either sides. The end of the room was accommodating another table stacked with files and folders of various colours. She took a while to look through the room until a throaty voice yelled at her.
"Anna, are you here? Annaaaaaa"
"Yes sir, yes of course" she replied.
"Masters in Business Administration with two years of experience in media affairs, interesting!"
"Then why did you leave you previous job?", came an enquiry.
"I had to leave the city because my dad was getting transferred."
"Alright and who all is there in your family?"
"Dad and me, mom passed away when I was seven."
she declared sorrowfully. "Oh! I am sorry, so you are a self made girl?"
"Not really sir, my dad played a great role in bringing me up."
"Admire your dad to have brought you up single handedly."
"Yes that is why I left my earlier job to accompany him to this city.."
"Oh! I see,that is great."
"This job will be of a great help to stay back and be doing that." she muttered gulping her saliva.
"Have you arranged public meetings before and handled media houses?" he asked.
"Yes sir,the firm I worked in was small but exactly did all this."
"What are your expectations from us?"
"Anything that you think I deserve."
"Alright. We will get back to you soon Ms.Anna.Thank you."
With the usual exchange of polite pleasantries she waded out of the room. The simper on the manager's face told the story, even then it was too early to declare herself as the winner.
The very next day was a tough one. It was the day of the week when she did laundry. As she was separating her coloured clothes from her dad's stripes and checks, and pinning them on the line neatly,her phone rang. She quickly collected the orange bucket and all the cloth pins and darted into the verandah of the house with the swiftness of a kangaroo. Hurling the can of cloth pins into the bucket she charged into her room. Quickly she tried to dry her hands by wiping them on the t-shirt and picked the phone. It took a moment for her to gather the air in her lungs which by now were heaving heavily after the marathon run from the backyard.
"Hello, Ms.Mathews,this is Ravi Saxena from Zoom News channel."
"Hhhello sir" after a long deep pause she replied.
"Are you alright? You don't sound good."
"Of course sir I was in the backyard and had to come rushing to attend to you."
"Ah! Alright. This was to tell you that you've got the job. You can join from monday."
"Ttthank you so much sir. Cannot tell you how relieved I am to have got this job." she swirled in excitement.
"Meet you on Monday then. You have to report to me at 9 am."
"Yes sir I'll surely be there at sharp 9'o clock."
Her joy knew no bounds and she broke into a jig after the conversation. She called her dad and gave him the news immediately, even though that meant he had to walk out of an important meeting on the pretext of taking his daily dose of medicine. In the evening both of them dined at their favourite restaurant. She counted the days from that Wednesday for a Monday to arrive.
Dressed in her favourite green salwar kameez and with a prayer on her lips, she entered the main glossy gate of the office. As she tiptoed into Mr.Saxena's cabin she could feel her heart thumping inside her, like a drum being tapped violently at a rock concert. She got in and seated herself on one of the black and white chairs positioned opposite Mr.Saxena's tall table. He came a few minutes later and greeted her with a formal handshake and a grin that was less polite than fishy.
"Sorry Anna it took me sometime. I was in the washroom."
" Oh that's alright sir."
"So you'll work under me and report to me directly. Also if you don't mind you would assist me as my secretary until the interview for a new one happens.''
"Yes sir. As per your wish. Thank you for considering me for this job. I needed it badly."
"Of course you were my first and only choice for this post. You are educated,young,qualified and most of all beautiful" he announced with a wimp.
Somehow the last adjective he uttered made her smell a dead rat. To clarify she asked with the innocence of a four year old child.
"Sorry sir. I didn't get you.''
As she blurted those sentences Saxena got up from his chair and went to the door,firmly giving instructions to the office boy wandering at the end of the corridor to not let anyone in, for the next half an hour. He pretended to the office staff loitering around, that he had to give a briefing to her about her responsibilities and didn't want anyone to interfere or bother. He shut the door behind her and locked it with a clink.
As he came back to his chair his sardonic sneer had widened as if someone had pulled his lips apart to fasten it tightly around his ears.