The Smile-1

The window seat was always his favorite seat. He just loved the gushing air blowing his hairs. But today it was not about his choice or wish, it was a requirement. Today he was going for a job interview, his 10th actually. With his father’s paltry income which was mostly spent on his mother’s medical bills, securing a job was his utmost priority. He had only one formal shirt and he wore that same one in all his interviews. He had seen that the IT guys from his locality wear nice formals while going to office and he thought it was one of the prime necessities to crack an interview. He remembered that the HR in his 3rd interview politely asked him to leave as he was not presentable enough. He bought his new shirt after that humiliation and loss. Anyways, he ironed the shirt properly and the window seat made him feel that sweat wouldn’t damage his shirt. His fear of failing in another interview was somewhat curbed by this happy feeling.

His interview was at Salt Lake and he boarded the bus S9 to reach his destination. It was a long journey, the last stoppage for the bus. To say that this bus remains crowded during office hours would be an understatement as this bus remains crammed full more than its complete capacity. Often the bus runs with gate remaining opened as many people travel on the pedestal being unable to enter inside the bus. He thanked God that he was able to have a seat, that also beside the window and with the door just in front of him. The company in their job advertisement mentioned that whoever cracked the interview rounds would get hired within a week or so as they were in need of employees. He was both excited and afraid.

Just as the bus started its journey, an old woman boarded the bus. She was old enough to travel in a bus, forget that jam-packed one. She was lean and looked tired. That she was able to even walk was perhaps the biggest miracle of the world. But her face did not show a hint of the troubles and problems she was facing. She somehow managed to stand by the side of the seat near the door. People were lenient and courteous enough to let her enter that place from the door, at least the look on the faces reflected the same. She booked a ticket immediately after boarding the bus and she would get off at the last stoppage. But she did not get a seat.

He thought it would be great to get up and offer her the seat. But that was his window seat, he had earned it. Add to that, the crowd, the hot and humid weather would make him sweat and thus his dress would get dirty. Plus he had to by heart some of the probable questions which might be asked during the interview. He had to crack this one; he found being selfish is better in this case. This lady would not even remember his face after a day or tomorrow. This old lady is none to him but he had an ailing mother and old father back at home. He wouldn’t get up; He had made up his mind.

He stood up and offered that old lady his seat. The lady was not ready to accept the offer but he persuaded her to sit.

The old lady was relieved and breathed a sigh of relief. She smiled at him with gratitude smeared all over her face.

He also helped her to get down from the bus.

The joining letter came a week later.

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The Comfort Zone

He pressed the unlock button of is iPhone; 3:28 AM. He sat up on his bed, twisted and turned his neck for some relief. He tried to sleep again but could not. He got down from his bed and went to the washroom. As he splashed water his face, he could see the ever growing dark patch surrounding his eyes. He had also become leaner. This has become his daily routine for the 10th day straight. His cozy bed, his new AC, his warm bathwater- nothing, nothing could give him any rest or comfort. He started taking sleeping pills, increased from one to two after the 1st week but sleep was far away from his languid eyes. All he could think about was numbers, profits, excels, meetings, reviews, phony faces – well perks of a well paying job. He was restless to go to home on the eve of Durga Puja, he was able to manage a leave of a week, but was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to get any rest in the hustles and bustles of the Puja, the outing with the friends, the meeting with the relatives. All his mind and body needed was rest.

He stepped out of the airport, breathed in deeply that old feeling and air. He felt a bit refreshed. He took a cab and reached his house. He was so happy seeing his parent and the feeling was mutual. A tear or two left his mother’s eyes seeing the health of her son but she did not want to dampen the happy mood. After a sumptuous lunch prepared by his mother, he threw himself to his neat and clean bed in his old room. Yet the same thing happened, he could not sleep for a minute. His friends had already made plans for booze for that night and though his constant persuasion of not going fell to deaf ears. After hopping a few pandals with utter aversion, they went to party at one of his friend’s house. He hardly drank a peg or two as he was so tired and disinterested and also the fact that he had to go home after party. He reached home by 2AM.

His parents waited for him and asked if he would eat. He smiled and mentioned that he was too full. He washed his face and went to his room straightaway. He changed and languishingly went to bed knowing that it would be of no use. Also, he had forgotten to bring or buy his sleeping pills. There was a knock on the door, her mother.

She sat on the bed and asked, “How are you Babu?”

“I am fine mother, I am really fine.”

“Is there too much trouble or pressure at office?” the mother’s voice showered immense concern and worry.

“Nothing as such maa (mother). Yes there is a bit of pressure but that’s the part and parcel of the job. Not sure why, I have not been able to sleep for the last 10 days at all. All I need is a bit of rest.”

His mother carried his head and placed it on her lap. He felt shy now that he had grown up but could not say no. She caressed his forehead.

That next morning, he woke up all refreshed and recharged. He finally got what he was craving for so long.

 

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