I was clad in my best sari to make a good impression at the interview that I was to attend that morning.I got this call after many of my applications failed to elicit any favourable response.I needed a job badly.The bus was crowded being office hour.I left home early to be a slightly before the time for interview.I could not get a seat and was standing by the side of seats earmarked for ladies.I could feel the heavy and warm breathing behind my neck.A young sweaty man was standing behind me too close to my comfort, that every time I shuffled my feet or moved my arms, my body came into contact with him.I pushed myself further towards the seats.He also moved closer narrowing the gap with his body almost touching my back.I squirmed unable to bear the sweaty stench and his contact.But there was little elbow room.When I turned to glare at him,he grinned showing his pan stained brown teeth.A rogue, his intentions were obviously not honest.I had a mind to get down from the bus at the next stop but the thought that I would be late deterred me.I moved a little forward and that scoundrel also moved in tandem.
It was then I heard a loud voice from the seat near me admonishing that man”Keep away from that girl.I have been watching you for a long time deliberately standing close to her.These are ladies seats.Go forward towards the exit.”It was from an old woman belonging to working class with a cane basket and shovel by her side.
He stared at her with hate as all the passengers turned their gaze s on him.None had come forward to help but when that old woman took cudgels there were murmurs of support.The old woman seeing him not moving away from the girl bellowed at him”Don’t you have a mother and sisters?Go away before I get angry?Hey conductor,are you blind and deaf or what ?Ask this crazy man to move forward”
Many passengers craned their necks while some stood up.The driver slowed down the bus at the next stop as the conductor inched forward towards the rascal..The young man dashed against that old woman as he hurried to get down.When the bus started with relief from everyone ,the old woman shouted “Ayyo, he has cut me with a blade.” I saw blood was coming and her sari was getting drenched.I asked the conductor to stop the bus.Without a second thought,I asked the old woman to get down along with me.I took a three wheeler and rushed her to the nearest hospital.The thought about the interview and that I would be late never occurred in my mind.I wanted to help my benefactor and not allow the blood to be drained from the deep cut.My sari was also much smeared in blood. After the dressing,I gave her some money and took leave of her with profuse thanks.
When I reached the venue for interview it was 11-30 am.I explained my predicament.The receptionist told me that my name was called and .the interviews were almost over.She said she would however check with the committee..Soon she came back to send me in.When I walked in all eyes were on my blood stained sari.They assured me not to worry and to relax.A glass of water was given.
Then the head of the committee asked me “What happened?”
I narrated briefly and expressed my regret at being late despite my starting very early.After a few questions on my experience and why I needed the job badly, the chief said”Actually there is only one vacancy.Since you had not come in time we had already finalised on the candidate.” He paused for a while looking at my crest fallen face with a smile..
When I stood up saying, “It is Ok, sir.I am unlucky”, he asked me why I was in a hurry to go and be seated.
Another member of the committee said with a smile on his face, ” We changed our mind to finalise as soon as we heard about the reason for your delay.We need people who are compassionate and who can understand the needs of others.You have demonstrated this trait in you amply. You are selected and can take the appointment letter, if you wait for 30 minutes.”
I had no words to express my gratitude except bow my head, even as I was wiping the tears of joy from my eyes.