Molly was in a hurry as she walked past the lounge to her room.The lounge was crowded with many candidates. There was a traffic jam today. Though it happened at frequent intervals Molly never fretted as she invariably used such compulsory waits to listening her favourite music.She got no other time at home.But today she was not amused at the traffic snarl.She had to be at her desk at 10AM sharp for the series of interviews she had to take as Head of HR.
As she walked in the long and spacious lounge her eyes caught the figure of an old man in his Sixties.When she came near him ,she found a familiar figure but she could not place him immediately.When he stood up with folded hands she saw the two inches long scar on his forearm and the name Palani in Tamil..She recollected and holding his hands asked him “Palani, are you keeping well? You have not changed much except for the creases on your face due to age.”
He blinked.”Amma, Sorry I cannot remember you readily” he muttered
“Palani, how could you forget me.Not once or twice, we had been meeting daily for four solid years both ways to and from college.”
“Sorry, my memory is failing me these days.Where did you board the college bus, amma?”
“Samiyar madam, Palani.That was about 20 years back”
“Were you the only girl in the bus stop.I remember you as a frail little girl in Salwar suit.Could not remember you immediately.You used to come late making me wait.”he smiled
“Yes Palani, I am the same Malathi.What brought you here?’she asked
He showed a young man standing by his side."He has been called for interview and he is an engineer.We call him Manickam. Do you know anybody here?” he asked
“OK Palani,I am late.Nice to meet you after such along time” she replied and hurried to her room
Once seated in her large comfortable chair in the AC room,her memories of her college days rushed back.She told her PA to give her 15 minutes before sending the other committee members and the candidates.She recalled how her mother with her arthritis problem was slow in getting up in the mornings and in preparing breakfast and lunch.Molly invariably ran from her house to the bus stop about 100 yards away.Many days she was delayed by even ten minutes.Never did Palani leave her.He waited patiently and gently and smilingly remonstrated with her that she should hold others like this.In her four years of college,she had never gone except by bus thanks to the patient and kind Palani.She had not seen him wait in other bus stops for students who failed to come in time.
The other members of interview committee joined her and the candidates started coming one after the other.More than 30 candidates had come and gone.Still she had not seen the papers of Manickam.She remembered the name.It was already nearing 2PM and time for lunch.Her PA announced only two more candidates were waiting.She asked them to be sentin.Then she saw Manickam enter as last candidate.His resume looked reasonably good.She put some simple questions and he answered correctly.She told him “Don’t worry.You will hear from us soon”
Palani was waiting anxiously and when Manickam said the interview was over,Palani said”Let me find out the girl who took my bus daily and ask her whether she can put in a word for your selection”
Manickam said “Daddy,it is only that lady who took the interview.She is a very big officer here.She told me not to worry and that I would soon be informed.You should not meet her.Come on ,let us go”