I was slowly sipping coffee to beat the annoying head ache at Starbucks. The interview was slated for 9am. It was nearing 10 am and I could see no lady in jeans and light blue top she said she would be wearing. I was irritated but closed my eyes deciding to hang on for another 30 minutes.
I opened my eyes when I heard a slight rustle and saw a young woman seated opposite to me. Unluckily this was not the one I was expecting for she was in strikingly colourful but elegant salwar khameez. I just nodded my head when she said hi. She must have seen me sweating and wiping my face repeatedly with handkerchief despite the cool atmosphere. I heard her cough a little to draw my attention but I ignored her and was in no mood for small chatter being in depths of despondency.
“Hello, are you OK? Any discomfort? Can I be of help?” she asked softly.
It was then I looked at her. Holding a cup of coffee in her hand, she smiled at me. She must be in her mid-twenties and was charming. With some hair styling, she would look extremely attractive. “Thank you for your concern. I am fine,” I said.
“Something is bothering you, I am sure. You need not have to confide. I am a psychologist trained to help people in distress, the lonely and the lost, the drunkards and drug addicts and even people wanting to end their lives. I can figure out in a trice when someone is agitated. That is why I asked you. Sorry, if I had intruded into your privacy,” she said.
I looked at her intently and could see a genuine concern in her beautiful eyes. I decided to talk to her hoping the head ache would disappear and my mood would improve. May be the lady in jeans and blue top would appear meanwhile. Who knows, this fetching one may even become a friend.
“Okay, I am a bit disappointed. Came here for an interview for an attractive position in marketing but the lady who was to interview has not turned up.” I paused looking at the interest with which she was listening.
“That happens. Something urgent might have cropped up. Why the sad look? I hope she would be contacting you soon,” she said
“No, there is a hitch. She asked me to send her without fail a copy of my passport before the interview when she fixed the day and venue. I could not send and may be that could be the reason for her skipping this meet. “
Why, have you lost the passport or what?” she asked.
“No, it has expired.”
“That is no issue. You can explain to her. It can be renewed fast,” she exclaimed.
“There is a problem. I cannot tell you more,” I said somewhat curtly.
“It is ok. I will not compel you, if you do not wish to. It is just that I felt like helping you,” she said in a disappointed tone. I kept quiet pondering over the matter for long whether to confide in her or not and then decided to spill the beans. Things cannot become worse, I thought.
“My passport would not be renewed, I am sure,” I feebly said. When she cast a questioning glance, I continued,” I have served a term in prison and police records have it.”
Her expression in her face changed to one of disbelief. “Oh, why were you put in prison, it baffles me? “
“I am not as clean as you imagine. I am sorry to disappoint you. I am only a graduate. I came away from my small town trying for a job. I could not get any for more than a year and started living by my wits doing all sorts of illegal things to sustain myself. I could not go back home. I am ashamed to tell you that I had even pilfered bags in buses and railway stations and threatened old women at secluded ATMs and snatched their money. Unfortunately, I was caught on one occasion and sent to prison for one year. Ever since the release, I have kept myself clean wanting to lead an honest living and settle down. I am virtually starving and I need a job badly. But with no experience and my inadequate qualifications, I am being rejected everywhere. That was why in a weak moment I stole a management degree from an acquaintance and changed the name to apply for this job. If I had got this job, I would have turned new leaf. But it seems, it is not to be,” I said.
“What you did is very wrong. You must look for a job within the country suiting your qualification and not hope to shine on borrowed plumes. I am sure you would have been found out sooner or later even if you had been offered the job. Being honest is the only way to mend your life. You can study online further if you wish to while working. But to expect a good job on a fake certificate reveals that you have not really changed or felt any sincere remorse for your criminal past. I cannot sympathize with you even a little bit,” she said emphatically.
“Yes, what you say is correct. I sincerely regret my past transgressions and criminalities and am determined to be on straight course. I have resolved no matter what, I would not do anything illegal. Any job even physical labour that can sustain me here would do,” I saw her kindly face smile a little.
“I do not think that would be necessary. May be something would come by. Do not lose heart and slide back to your old ways.”
“Would you be able to help me to get a job using your good offices? I know none here. Even the meeting with you is god sent, I think. If you can help, would be beholden to you for life,” I said
“I was thinking on those lines. The NGO where I work needs a hand to assist me and have asked me to find one myself. I am willing to take you but you will be on probation for a year. I warn you any slight wrongdoing would mean you would be out of the job instantly and even reported to police. Mind you, I will keep a close surveillance on you. Promise me that you would not fail me,” she said as she proffered her hand.
When we shook hands vigorously, she said. “I am famished. Let us go and eat a sumptuous breakfast.
As she lay in her bed happily, a quick thought flitted across her mind. What a physique and how handsome he looks with his curly hair and a permanent twinkle in his eyes, she wondered. She could not resist the urge to meet him again and looked for the purse in her handbag where she had put the slip with his address. Oh my god, where did I keep the purse she bemoaned. It was not there. She had gone only for a fraction of minute to get sugar leaving the bag on the table. Could it be….my god?