The board outside announcing that the store was hiring hands was godsend as he was roaming the streets in search of a job. Someone in the shop collected his name and address in a chit. In a few moments Kartik stood perspiring before the owner of ‘Vinayaka’, an air conditioned departmental store.
“Where were you working earlier and why did you leave the job?” asked the owner.
He knew a truthful answer would certainly not fetch him the job. The thought of his starving family troubled his mind. However, he was determined not to lie come what may.
He gulped the saliva and said “I was not working anywhere for more than two years.”
“Why? You do not seem to be in good circumstances to be without a job. Aren’t you married?”
“I am, Sir. I have a wife and a son. My aged mother is also with me”
“You have not answered my first question. Were you idling your time for two years or do you not wish to reveal the name of your previous employer?”
“It is not like that. To be frank, I was in jail for two years and was released six months back. I have been searching for a job since then without any luck”
He was interrupted by owner who said “Who will give a job to a criminal? I am sorry I cannot also.”
“I understand, Sir, but I wish to say I am no criminal. It was my destiny that I was falsely accused for a crime I was not even aware of”
“What do you mean? That is what everyone tells”
“I was travelling in a crowded bus and a seat was about to fall vacant. When I lunged for it, a man asked why I was pushing him and that he was not going to occupy the seat. I thanked him and sat in the seat. Within minutes there was a commotion and a scream from an elderly man that his pocket was picked and people saw the man who was talking to me escaping through the front exit. Someone said he had seen the culprit talking to me and the conductor saw the empty wallet under my legs. Despite my pleading that he was a stranger and he must have dropped the wallet by my side, I was handed over to the police. After beating me blue I was put in jail.Trust me, Sir, I have never indulged in crime in my life nor uttered a lie. My family is starving. Kindly help me. I swear by what I told you,”Kartik said.
“What you say may be true. I have no means of verifying it. But I am not in a position to take a risk and employ you,” the owner said curtly and escorted him outside the store himself.
He had hardly moved ten steps, he heard a loud cry from a middle aged woman “Stop the cycle, he had snatched my chain” It took no time for Kartik to stand in the front of a speeding cycle and push the cyclist down even as he also fell down. The chain snatcher whipped a knife but was overpowered by other passersby. The chain was safely restored to the woman who profusely thanked Kartik for his resourcefulness and bravery.
Limping back home, he told his wife “No luck today also, dear. I found a place offering jobs but the stigma seems hard to erase.”
“Never mind. I have hot gruel ready. Do not lose heart. God will answer our prayers as you have done no wrong,” she consoled him.
An hour later a young boy in his teens was at their door asking ‘I am from Vinayaka stores. Is there any Kartik here? My owner wants him immediately.”
“I am Kartik. Do you have any idea why he wants me?”
“No Sir. Please come along with me in the scooter. He is waiting.”
When he was ushered into the owner’s room, he smiled at Kartik and said “I have since changed my mind. You can come for work from tomorrow as part of our security. I trust you fully. You will get uniform in two days. Give measurements before you go. Take these thousand rupees and buy provisions.”
Taken by surprise and not knowing what brought about this change in him, he said with tears flowing from his eyes “Only about an hour ago, you sent me away suspecting my integrity and now you are not only employing me but as security. My prayers to God have not been in vain”
“I judged you wrongly. Luckily and very soon I had a proof of your helping nature when you left my store. A compassionate man can never be a criminal. I was watching the incident from the store. Incidentally that lady is my wife.”