Mixed sounds of many ladies talking and laughing were heard from the ladies’ room adjacent to the dining hall of office canteen. Sunanda was there. But she was not in the group of those women making sounds. She opened her lunch box. She was in a hurry to finish her lunch and go back to her work. She did not participate in the chit-chat of the loud laughter-group of other women staff. It seemed that a few women during their lunch recess, had gone to ‘Chennai Silks Showroom’, where seasonal discount sale was going on, purchased a few sarees and dresses. That ‘display and discussion’ of new purchases was the cause of flurry of sounds. Some other time means, she too would have joined them happily, but not today. She had to clear a lot of work, --- collect data, prepare statements, complete the write-up, summarise the analysis and submit the case for approval.
She got buried in her work. She was attending to this particular item of work for the last few months on a regular basis. In order to make her work easy and also to ensure that nothing was missed out, she had devised a format and almost structured it. She had to collect required data and insert the same in the respective columns and rows. Then she had to make changes wherever needed in the narrative part of write up. Today it took longer than usual time and still she could complete the entire work, much to her satisfaction. She marked it ‘Urgent’ and put up the entire set of case papers, statements and supporting documents to her boss. Upon his approval and under his signature, it could be kept ready for dispatch to their Head Office.
This entire collection and compilation in a statement form was not part of her regular work. Earlier once she was asked to do it as a special requirement. She did it. It was well appreciated by all including her Head Office. From then on, it got included in her routine work schedule. She was known for her diligence earlier also and it got established again.
She was waiting for her boss to approve the case papers she had submitted marked as ‘Urgent’. But he seemed to be very casual and did not pay much attention to what she had placed on his table. He was looking at some old file for some old case paper. So, she straight away went to him and asked him to look into that urgent matter and also told him that if it was cleared, she would like to leave early and go home. Of course, only if he permitted. While he appreciated her work, he did not like the second part which went with it --- that was permission to leave early. He told her strongly that she was using that facility ‘to leave early’ quite often. Completion of the day’s work did not imply leaving the office earlier than official timings. Some work of urgent nature might crop up later for which her presence would be needed. She pleaded that she wanted him to accord special permission for that day as her child was not keeping well. She told him expressly that in fact, she attended the office mainly to collate data and complete the statement which she was doing regularly.
Her boss Nandkishore, had to allow her to go but not without warning. About her work, he had no complaints. He told her that since she was regularly attending to monthly statements and that too, without mistakes, he would peruse the papers at his own time and release the case for dispatch. But he wanted her to cut down taking advantages of leaving early, coming late etc.
He was of the opinion that ladies generally made excuses in the name of child’s ill health, or guests at home, urgent personal work, self not keeping well, et cetera – a set of handy excuses for leaving early or coming late to office. The reality could be far from anything they said as excuse. Mostly it was for going to cinema or shopping, and occasionally for attending to their relative’s wedding receptions. Majority of women staff would however fall under that category. But he could not readily place Sunanda also under the same category. Somehow, he felt that lately, she was taking too much advantage of his leniency and remained absent or left early. He also thought she was very proud of her impeccable work. No doubt, a good worker! But that did not mean she could be using office time for personal use that also by harping on basic sentiments. He decided one day he must get her red handed and expose her of her failure in maintaining office decorum and discipline.
Sunanda left. Her boss cross checked the papers placed by her and found that there were two gross errors in the statement. Last month’s figures at two places were not updated. The two mistakes gave a wrong picture of monthly position thereby rendering the overall total position also as incorrect. Not only the statement had to corrected, the ratio analysis, narrative write up, summary part everything needed to updated accordingly. Nandkishore was already upset that frequently she was leaving office early. Now added to that her work also required to be amended. Certainly, it could not be sent to Head office right on the same day. Of course, it was a different matter that there was still time for the due date. He could do the corrections himself. But the work would be shabby and expose the corrections of mistakes. Overwriting was never recommended. Computerisation of this work was not taken up by Head Office. Blank statement-forms were not with him. He did not want to approach the few typists who were free, as they were not dependable for accuracy of figure work. For him today, one door closed and others too. Nothing opened. He was forced to wait for Sunanda to come and attend. Probably tomorrow.
One thing he never liked was keeping work pending. He was sure that in her hurry to leave the office, this stupid lady- Sunanda was not focussing on her work. Or else why would there be lapses? Thank God! He never signed any paper without going through them, be it official or personal. Wherever figure work, calculations were involved it was necessary that everything was checked twice at two different levels. If Sunanda was known for diligence, he was also known for his track record of good work. Had it not been for his extra care in his work, she would have derailed him today and landed him into unwanted problems.
He was annoyed and angry with her impatient and indifferent attitude. Surely, she must have pre-planned to go with her husband to some evening show. Otherwise why that insistence? An idea struck to him.
“Why not go to her house and find out? If only my assumption is right, then I will deal with her tomorrow, such that she will remember the day for life. She must be made answerable.”
Having decided so, he set out on his scooter towards her house. He had gone to her house earlier for her ‘Seemandam’ the so-called baby shower ceremony. Without difficulty he reached there. For a second, he hesitated. ‘In case she was home and he dropped in surprisingly, would that be taken in good spirit? Would that not be construed as indecent behaviour?’ In a way it was very true that he was not behaving properly. He was unnecessarily crossing his limits by spying on her.
“Come what may. Let me go in.” He decided and went ahead. Having come up-to her house and if he retreated, and by any chance she came to know of it, then that would be disastrous. With too many thoughts banging on his head and with great hesitation, he rang the door-bell. Whatever he saw there and how he was received, were unimaginable. Sunanda herself opened the door. She was holding her crying baby. She was not her usual self, her dresses crumpled and eyes red with tears and face terribly swollen. She was torn and shattered. She literally broke down on seeing him. She was not the one whom he saw daily, neat and well groomed. This helpless woman was unknown to him.
With tear-filled eyes and with great difficulty and in a choked voice, she managed to say. “Sir, you are God sent angel to me now. My son is having high fever. He is having repeated convulsions. I am terribly scared. My husband is on tour and will come home next week only. I must take the child to the doctor that too immediately. Every minute is precious. I am so helpless, you see. Unable to step out to get a taxi or autorickshaw….” She kept on blabbering. He stopped her. “Come fast. We are going on my scooter. Take necessary things for your child. Rush up. Immediately. Don’t bother for money purse. Be quick.”
He already kickstarted his scooter. She held the baby firmly on one hand and the scooter by the other. At doctor’s clinic, there was heavy rush as usual. Nandkishore requested the doctor’s assistant to take up their case as an emergent one. He also told the waiting crowd about the baby’s emergency requirements and pleaded to be pardoned for bypassing them. The doctor was kind enough to overrule others and attend to the baby. He gave injection to reduce the fever and asked them to get some medicines urgently. Leaving the baby to doctor’s care, the two again left on scooter. The doctor had already cautioned that getting those medicines at the very first shop itself might not happen. Hence the two had to go around the locality in search of a few medical shops. At last, they got all medicines. Sunanda was impatient. She had never left her son like that – almost abandoned at an awkward place and was hopping from shop to shop in that busy locality.
The doctor had by then put the baby to calm down and was out of danger. It was a great relief for Sunanda to see her son sleeping in cool-calm pose. All other things were secondary. What doctor advised --- like detailed instructions on medication and to keep him informed about recovery etc. fell on deaf ears. But Nandkishore had taken note and written down everything.
When they both came home, she left her son on the bed and came straight to her boss and fell flatly on his feet. She was speechless. Somehow managed to say, “Sir, you are SUPER BOSS. God sent you today exclusively, to save my son. You are an angel.”
Nandkishore also was stunned to receive such comments for a different reason. With what intentions he came to her house and what a reception he got and with what great accolades! All crisscrossing with each other! Apart from the turn of events, one thing he deliberately did not tell her. This Super Boss would certainly not be considered as a Super Boss or an angel at his home. Because he noticed that his wife had spotted him with a young lady as a pillion rider on his scooter, spanning around a busy locality.
Whatever awaited him, he had to deal with it. He said to himself, “Oh! God Bless me.” And then later added, “My wife too.”