The maid was at it. Again! Dropping many hints while washing the dishes.
“So many dishes! I wonder how they manage this daily, with only three members in the house. All this work, I have do single handedly. But If I ask for a raise or leave, all hell will be come down. Always the same answer ‘No’ ‘No’. This month end, I will definitely give her a notice. Let me see how she will manage without me.”
Sharon heard the hints loud and clear. She wanted to scream and tell the maid to get the hell out of her house.
“How would I go for work then? I have to suffer her tantrums till I find a decent replacement. Always spoils mood while I am working”.
Sharon went back to answering her mails and then onto her fix. Facebooking.
“Drats! Everyone is on a holiday. That too abroad. These bloody status updates! Oh thats me in Dubai! Look at me, I dipped into Niagara. I’m pouting in front of Pisa..Nonsense! Why can’t they go quietly? Do they have to rub it in? And here Gautam says lets go to Coonoor! How bloody down market! Can’t blame the poor fellow though. It is our budget that cannot be stretched.”
To cheer and soothe herself, she then hit Jabong. “ 3@999/- ? What a delectable deal. Buy! Buy! Buy!” she said aloud.
“Mom, you are always buying for yourself. Why can’t I buy some books too? But it is a No always! A waste of money! Not fair!”
‘OMG! When did this little fellow creep in…’
“Honey, this purchase is work related. I have to dress for my job right? You have so many books.But you still want more!”
“Mom, these are for widening my mental horizons. I need the new..”
“Okay Okay, I will buy you, when I come back from work. I need to rush now. I have kept some food in the fridge. Study till Dad comes home Ok?”
Sharon reached late. She was the EMCEE at a startup celebration party. The host was getting antsy. He made sure she understood his displeasure. Cursing him under her breath, Sharon took the mike, cracked a few in season jokes, made some witty observations and got the party rolling. DJ got the public grooving with some Funjaabi numbers.
She then strolled off to the overcrowded bar, where everyone was drinking their sorrows away.
“Hey Paddy” Sharon greeted a deeply furrowed young man who was boring holes into his smartphone.
“It is Padmanabhan! How many times do I have to correct you? Tomorrow when my book comes out and I become this hot shot author, you will be chasing all around me for autographs!”
“Yeah Right! I have been hearing that for a long time. Till then, It is you and me, covering these seedy parties. Also, it is Paddy till then” Sharon winked at Paddy and guffawed loudly.
Paddy was the quintessential Page 3 correspondent. He hated his beat and begged his editor to give him some editorial space where he could write lifestyle pieces. He regularly emailed her some soul stirring stuff. Heaven knows where the mails went. Spam/junk?trash definitely archived!
So he covered tripe, much to his consternation.
Paddy stared at Athiya, his editor, sharing a joke and a drink with the host.
“Do this please Paddy! It is for a friend!” He mimicked Athiya’s nasal twang.
Sharon burst out laughing. “ We are the suckers Paddy! To us! Bottoms Up!”
The host, Suren, stared through Athiya, half nodding, while she conspiratorially narrated a senior minister’s affair with tan upcoming starlet. He looked around and saw people guzzling away his food, his booze, his hard earned money.
“Just Imagine, how many salaries could be covered with this ugly expense. How am I going to fill in this short fall?”.
Still nodding, he stared at his trophy wife, in a snug fitting LBD and glittering diamonds.
“Daahling! It is important to be visible. Visibility is everything. This coverage and this party will give a massive boost to our business. Surely, I don’t have to tell you that!” She had crooned and like a fool, he had agreed.
‘What did she know? We are celebrating my dotcom bust. We need a bloody massive miracle to get us out of the deep slump that we are in now.’ Sure looked heavenwards, almost pleading.
“Suren, can I have a word with you please?” A deep baritone commanded him.
Suren turned around to face an expensive suit, a regular front pager of The Economic Times and paled in shock, but recovered quickly to blurt out an obsequious “Hello Sir!”
“Not here! somewhere quieter” The suit suggested. They walked into an alcove and settled in.
“Suren, I will come straight to the point. Being famous or present on Page 3 is equivalent to being rich on Monopoly. Absolutely redundant! I have looked at your books. “
“How?” Sure managed weakly.
“I think you should worry about ‘What Next?’ rather than the hows! I offer you a senior position with all the perks. My CA will get in touch with you to thrash out the details. Quietly wind up this and move on. Your people already have an inkling of what’s happening. So no surprises there. I need someone of your caliber. Don’t worry about wife. She will be happy with the page 3 coverage. Make sure of that. The offer is on till midnight. If I know you, your answer is already a ‘Yes’!” With these stirring words the Suit moved on as quietly as he came on the scene.
As Suren sat gobsmacked, trying to fathom this Christmas Bonus, Athiya joined in.
“What’s up Suren? You look all shaken up?”
“Athiya, The coverage standards are going down. I’m spending so much money here. I’m worried whether I will get my dough’s worth. Wife has been working so hard to make this party a success. I just hope the reporter does a good job! Could you please ensure wife gets a good mention, please, for old times sakes?”
“Actually, the guy who is covering this – Paddy – is getting complacent. He fancies himself to be a terrific writer and all this, beneath him. I must be on the look out for fresh talent now. But don’t worry. You have my word.” Athena assured Suren.
Sharon overheard this nugget as she came out from her pee-break. She rushed to caution Paddy. After all, he was a good chap.
The party eventually wound up and everyone said their lusty goodbyes.
Paddy dropped Sharon home.
“Thanks buddy for the heads up. Let me get my act straight. I’m going to unleash my creative juices, produce a vintage piece and send it ASAP. I’m going to be super serious about work.” Paddy promised and zipped off.
Sharon unlocked the front door and walked into her waiting, beaming husband, Gautam.
“Guess what honey, we are spending the weekend in Goa! Dil Chahta Hai Ishtyle!” Gautam gushed and hugged Sharon.
Sharon smiled broadly, gave her husband a tight squeeze and beckoned the watching son to join in.
“Here are some coupons for you, my son from that DotCom Party I went today. You can buy some great books.”
Needless to say, it turned out to be a happy night for all.
Next morning, the maid was washing the dishes quietly without a whimper while Sharon surveyed her quizzically.
“Cannot afford to lose this house too. The other madam threw me suddenly without even a notice. This one is better. Doesn’t scream at me. Will ask for increment next month. Till then..” Maid muttered to herself.
Ahh Well! Adjustment is just a shift of thoughts…