Untitled Series - IX

Part Nine (Read Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven and Part Eight)



Manish Kumar knocked and waited at the door until Uncle waved him inside. He wished Uncle and turned to wish Mansi and a look of recognition crossed his face, which disappeared instantly, Mansi thought perhaps she had imagined it. He wished Mansi and took his seat. Uncle asked him most of the questions and Mansi concluded the interview.

After a few interviews excused herself after one of the candidates finished his interview and had walked out. She rushed to the washroom and vomited in commode. Her head was about to explode. She waited for another wave of nausea and when it did not come she pressed the flush. She looked at the mirror as she washed her hands and a tired woman who looked more than her age stared back at her. She dried her hands and walked outside. On her way back to Uncle’s cabin she looked outside. There were many more candidates waiting for their turn. She looked at the clock, there was still time for the lunch break; not that she was hungry. She wanted to rest.

As she entered Uncle’s cabin she saw the worried look on his face.
“Are you alright?” he asked
“Yes.” She replied as she took her seat.
Uncle was about to ask her something when the next candidate knocked.
“Are you sure you can continue with the interviews? Or should we postpone it to tomorrow?” Uncle asked, signalling the candidate to wait.

Mansi thought for a while. On one hand she wanted to postpone the interviews so that she could rest for a while and on the other hand she wanted the interviews to get over soon.
“We will finish the interviews” finally Mansi told Uncle and Uncle called the candidate inside.
Mansi used the restroom again during the lunch break. She felt exhausted and dehydrated after the multiple episodes of vomiting. Since she was not hungry she gave her lunch box to the peon. While others had their lunch, Mansi rested her head on desk. She fell asleep.
Uncle did not bother her and let her rest and he finished the rest of the interviews.

When Mansi woke up and checked the clock, she realized she had been asleep for two hours. Apart from the headache, her shoulders were stiff now. She looked around embarrassed but no one was looking at her. Everyone was occupied doing something on their computers. The candidate line outside the office was gone. She walked to Uncle’s cabin and entered.
“Feeling better?” he asked.
“Yes. You should have not let me sleep” she said
Uncle smiled. He then handed over the list of candidates he had short-listed. He told her that there would not be any more interviews. Mansi felt relieved; perhaps it was too evident on her face because immediately Uncle said, “I know how much you hate the day shifts; thank you for doing this with me.”
Mansi felt embarrassed; she wondered whether his decision to finish the interviews had something to do with her health.

Mansi checked the list. There were ten candidates Uncle had short-listed; Manish Kumar was one of them. She did not know how he finally chose the One; but she did know that Uncle’s choice was never wrong. He was a good reader of character. Not only she but everyone believed it. Of course they did, they all were there because of Uncle’s selection technique.
Uncle told her that she can take the rest of the day off and go home early and sleep off the headache. When Mansi agreed he walked out with her. He asked her drive home in his car and then waved to his chauffeur. Mansi did not refuse, she needed the comfortable drive. She did not want the people of the chawl to see her getting out of an expensive car so she asked the chauffeur to drop her off at a distance. On her way to the chawl she bought a newspaper. She decided to utilise the time looking for apartments. The headache had subsided after the vomiting episode and the two hour sleep and the body stiffness – she could live with. She felt guilty momentarily for taking advantage of Uncle’s leniency.

As she walked closer to her room, the aroma of snacks reached her nostrils. Suddenly she was hungry. It seemed her neighbour was making snacks. She walked past his room and entered hers. Her stomach growled the moment she closed the door behind her. She changed her clothes and walked back outside. As she crossed her neighbour’s room she involuntarily turned to look inside. He was eating the delicacies he had just made. He looked at her and what seemed like a sudden response – he smiled at her. She hurried away without smiling. There was no queue outside the toilet at this time of the day.

The door to the neighbouring room was closed when she returned. Her reaction might have seemed rude but she had no choice, she had to rush. Of course she could have managed a smile, she knew but once again she did not care. At least that is what she convinced herself as she walked past the closed door. Back in her room, she opened the newspaper and started searching for flats. She circled a few advertisements and made up her mind to start looking as soon as she could. She would have the day to herself now, since the day shifts were thankfully over. She believed she was back to night shifts – working alone in the office. She did not know it was not going to be so.


- Part Ten