Sitting in my office, my stare moves from window to ceiling and then to the desk, where lies a huge mess of old and new files, samples, rusted scissors, scattered stationery and amongst all this, a cup of tea, cold as ice by now. However, for me the only thing important is my job that I take damn seriously. I have even told Mr. Kapoor all this minutes back.
Mr. Kapoor, my boss, is short and stout with a hanging lower lip that seems to indicate that it is too tired to keep the beetel and pan masala from coming out of those pursed lips. However, whenever Mr. Kapoor calls me ‘beti’ instead of Sarika, I can’t even describe the feeling.
It was only 20 minutes ago when I was summoned to Kapoor’s office, a cubicle tastefully decorated in maroon and purple, strange as himself. Anyways, as I entered he interrogated -
His calm and composed ‘every thing is fine?’ question is actually the lull before the storm. I could see his hawk -like eyes, his computer like mind was ready to bombard me with some unforeseen issue.
As far as my cool and composed ‘yes sir’ was concerned, what a junior merchandiser can say even if she has to fight for her chair and water jug every morning with other employees. Actually chair means literally that- ‘chair’, the ubiquitous four legged furniture but Kapoor has not replaced those office chairs since Noah built his ark so a fight follows every morning with employees going even to the extremes of making insignias on them.
Kapoor started in his husky voice-
“What do you want to do in life?”
“What do you want to do in life?”
“Sir a comfortable life, what else?”
“How will you get a comfortable life beti?”
This beti word is a sign of danger, for it allows 61 year old Kapoor to scold staff like one scolds one’s own children- much more ruthlessly.
“Sir, by good performance. What happened sir?”
“No don’t ask me beti you know better”
“Sir I did send the samples to ‘Anks’
‘Anks’ was one of the clothing brands I was handling.
“I also contacted the sourcing department for the exact color of buttons they want and the thread number required”
“Hmmmm” said Kapoor in a low tone as if gauging his prey before pouncing and tearing it into unrecognizable pieces”
“Sir I have worked really hard”
“Just like a donkey right beti?”
“Sir my foot! You stupid girl… the buttons you ordered were of exact colour but have you checked the shade? Did you make the minutes of the meeting on Anks? You took two days, two full days, to respond to the department about the status of the sample”
“But sir, I have to handle four brands more sir. That’s why the delay”
“No, the delay was because of our incapable staff” he said looking me into eye. “And yes, your disinterest for work. What if you handle five brands? What if? Look at me, I have three kids and a wife and a house and a company and a club and my investments and my health and a thousand other issues to take care of. Getting some inspiration or not?”
Kapoor said adjusting his glasses and grinding his teeth when he stopped to inhale some air as if it were glucose that would give him more energy to shout.
“I know” he continued “I know a normal merchandiser can handle two brands normally, but always remember you only said for yourself at the time of recruitment ‘Sir, I want to prove myself’. Now I have seen the proof” he shouted, making funny hand gestures.
I have been working here ever since I have earned my diploma in merchandising from an institute nearby, affiliated to some obscure university somewhere in
South India. I report to Kapoor directly.
“Do not stand here and let your work suffer now, go and complete the entire work now only”
“Go now. By the way, do you think you deserve another chance here?”
“Yes sir, Please trust me. I will prove myself for sure and you will definitely see zero mistakes from now” I said wiping my hot tears. He then gestured me again to get back to work.
His is the only room that has all the things in working condition in fact. He sits on a high Godrej chair and has a peculiar habit of scanning every staff member from head to toe from behind his gold rimmed glasses as if he could detect cocaine hidden in someone’s stomach.
I swear on my dead husband, if I were not having all the EMIs to pay along with the home loan he took for our one room flat and for my child’s education and yes, only if I were a little more educated, I would have spat on his devilish face.
But as I sit here under the ancient fan that always seems to be begging for retirement by creaking loudly, I have pardoned Kapoor once more for behaving rudely with me. After all, you see, I am not like him, insolent and rude, so I forgive him for all the rudeness he shows to me after all he has called me ‘beti’!