Joined: 14 October 2006
This update will predominantly discuss Sameera's life. There
is a separate love track for her in the original fic. Should I go with
that or would you prefer that I just give a brief summary of her life in her conversations with Maan and Geet much later on in the story?In your comments please let me know whether I can give the details of her life as I did in this update or only give a summarised version.
Back in Bangalore
The day Maan and Geet had left for Mysore, Sameera had got up late, at around 8.00 a.m., as she could hardly sleep well the previous night, with worries about her mother and her work plaguing her. She was still feeling tired but had to report for duty and submit the report on the labour problem. She decided to pay her mother a visit at the hospital before going to work inorder to ensure that she was well, especially after the incident at the Lal Bagh gardens. At the hospital her mother refused to acknowledge her. She seemed dull and withdrawn. The nurse informed her that she had not had her dinner the previous night and refused to speak to anyone. Sameera's worst fears seemed to be materialising. Her mother appeared to be deeply affected by who she saw or thought she saw at the gardens. Asking for her breakfast, she sat next to her with the plate and gently tried to feed her but Amrita pushed her hand away, saying she will eat only if Monty comes to see her. Sameera did not know what to do.
She was not aware of circumstances under which her parents got separated. When she was old enough to comprehend things, she came to know from her grandmother that her mother had eloped with her father when her grandfather tried to forcefully get her married to someone else, despite her grandmother's effort to make him see reason. Her grandfather, who could not bear to face the shame of his daughter's disappearance on the day of the wedding, committed suicide. Her grandmother was a courageous woman who even after losing her only child and husband in a short span of time had the willpower to struggle and eke out a living for herself, selling home-made papads and pickles, wire bags and other handicraft items. After she was born, her father had left her mother and her in the care of her grandmother and had reportedly gone to the Gulf to seek his fortunes there. He never communicated with them after that.
Waiting and waiting for her husband to get in touch with her, her mother gradually lost her mental balance till one day she was completely taken over by the mental illness. Sameera had tried to get her grandmother to reveal details about her father, including his full name, so that they can try to bring about a reconciliation between her parents, but her grandmother had been very angry as she considered him to be a deserter of his family and refused to divulge anything further. In fact she had her mother's maiden name as her surname as her grandmother did not want her to have anything to do with her father including taking on his surname. Her mother was of not much help either because she kept referring to him as Monty and nothing else. With no leads and just a pet name to go by there was nothing much she could do, especially after her grandmother's death. She just hoped that her mother will slowly forget the incident at the gardens. After a lot of coaxing and promises to find Monty, she finally managed to make her mother have her breakfast. The doctor had just then come in and assured her that they are undertaking special treatment and hopefully she would gain normalcy.
She hurried to work and found that her boss had already reached and was waiting quite impatiently for her. She tried to explain her problem but he had waved her into silence and asked for the report. She handed it over to him and went about her work. That afternoon, her boss called a meeting of the workers. She was asked to be present while he addressed the meeting. He had told the workers that he knew that the long hours at work were due the go-slow tactic used by the workers.
He asked them what their problems were, why was it that they were not completing their work on time. The trade union leader tried to butt in and give an explanation but he stopped him and asked one of the senior workers to voice their problems. The worker told him that they were unhappy with the wages being paid as their compatriots elsewhere earned more than them. They had been told by the trade union leader that if they adopt the go-slow tactics, the management will be forced to pay them more by way of overtime. However, the longer hours of work created rift in their families.
The boss told them that they could have come forward directly with their problems and sought a solution instead of these indirect methods. The senior worker then said that they were not sure how the new management will take their complaints. They did not want to lose their jobs altogether in their struggle for higher wages. Hence they listened to the trade union leader but admitted that this was not getting them anywhere since all of them were unhappy. The boss assured them that he will find a solution to their problem and asked them to give him a couple of hours. During this time he asked Sameera to give him details of the prevailing wages in the industry.
Sameera had already gathered these details because she anticipated that the labour problems stemmed from dissatisfaction over the wage structure but she wanted the workers to admit it upfront to the boss. She also asked the accounts head to present him the financials of the factory unit. After examining the details, the boss called in the workers and assured them of a 20 per cent increase in their wages provided they completed their work on time and helped the unit to do well. He impressed upon them that they were all working towards a common goal and that the management and the workers should not pit themselves against each other because then all of them stand to lose. The workers appreciated the honest manner in which their boss addressed their problems and promised to cooperate with the management. Sameera couldn't help but admire the skill with which her boss handled the volatile situation, despite his youth and relative inexperience in the business.
That evening she visited her mother again at the hospital and spent some time with her, although her mother remained morose and un-interactive. As she was driving back home in her scooty, she noticed a man staggering on the platform and fall unconscious in front of her vehicle. She applied the brakes suddenly and was about to fall off the vehicle herself. She quickly regained her balance, parked her vehicle and rushed to him. The road was deserted and there was no one around. When she turned over the guy who was sprawled face down on road, she was shocked to see that it was her boss. He looked like he was thoroughly beaten up. His head had a big bump on it. His eyes were puffed up. His face was covered with lacerations. There was a deep gash above his brow which was bleeding profusely. His nose was bleeding too. His lower lip was swollen and cut. She sprinkled some water over his face and he opened his eyes and looked dazedly at her. She asked if he could hold on to her while she tried to take him to the nearest clinic to dress his wounds. He merely nodded.
Lifting him with great difficulty, she supported him by holding him by his waist and swinging his arm around her shoulder. She got him to sit on the pillion of her scooty and taking the driver's seat, she made him hold her around her waist for support. Not being able to support himself, he leaned against her back. Although it was difficult for her to drive with his weight on her, she started the scooty and took him to the nearby clinic. There his wounds were cleaned and dressed. He thanked her and was about to leave when he staggered on to the nearest bench, holding his throbbing head in his hands. She realised that he was not in a position to be left alone. She asked him which hotel he stayed in but he only looked at her in confusion. Making up her mind in a split second, she parked the scooty at the clinic and hired a cab to take them back to her flat. She took him in and led him to the spare bedroom in which Maan and Geet had stayed earlier. She made him sit on the bed, removed his coat and unbuttoned the top few buttons of his shirt to make him more comfortable. He still looked dazed and did not protest. Instead he laid his tired and wounded body on the bed and promptly went to sleep.
She skipped her dinner as she did not feel hungry. She just had a couple of biscuits and went to her room. Lying on her bed she wondered how her boss ended up in this position. She had noticed that his wallet, cell phone and other personal belongings seemed to be untouched. So it cannot be an attempt to rob him. She decided to find out from him the next day and went to sleep wondering what the next day had in store for her.
The next morning she got up and headed to the room where her boss lay. He was still asleep. She finished her morning routine and prepared tea and breakfast. As she brought in the tray with the cup of tea and a plate of toasted bread, she saw her boss slowly struggle to sit up. Lifting his head he looked at her in surprise and asked her where he was and what was she doing there. She explained to him the condition she found him in the previous night and that she had brought him to her house after getting his wounds dressed because she realised he was not in a position to be left alone. Slowly things started coming back to him. Taking the tea cup from her, he slowly tried to sip it. His cut and swollen lips made it difficult for him to sip. Sameera got him a spoon and made him take the tea in it. He then recounted in a slow and slurred voice the happenings of the previous night.
He was returning from the factory in the company car to his hotel. He had to take the late night flight back to Mumbai. On the way though, the driver stopped his car in a lonely locality. He was dragged out of the car by a group of men who then started hitting him. He tried to hit back but was hopelessly outnumbered. As he tried to escape from there he was hit at the back of his head with a stick. He tried to hold his balance. The men who had hit him hopped into the car and threatening the driver to drive fast, they got away. In the dim light he could make out that one of them was the trade union leader. It appeared that he was not happy with the way the labour dispute was settled in a smooth manner and decided to vent his anger, assisted by a group of goondas. He wanted to file a police complaint.
She asked him if he would like to return to the hotel first and change but he felt he needed to present himself in the disheveled and bloodied look for the police to take him seriously. She volunteered to accompany him to the police station. They filed an FIR against the trade union guy. Later they went to his hotel where he had a bath without wetting his face and changed into fresh clothes. Sameera waited for him at the lobby. They then went to the clinic to collect her scooty. Her boss insisted in driving it and she sat in the pillion. Seeing them arrive at the factory together, the workers were curious to know what the deal was between their boss and Sameera. Her boss hastened to explain what had happened the previous night as he did not want her reputation to be sullied. The senior worker who had spoken up the previous day promised that the workers will assist the police in finding and apprehending the trade union leader. The driver also told him that he will inform the police where he saw them get off last before disappearing into the night.
The police had requested her boss to stay for a couple of more days till they rounded up the men who had hit him. Her boss agreed to stay back. During these days he observed her style of functioning more closely and was impressed with her ability to handle work pressure well. He gave her valuable tips about how to discharge her duties more effectively. By the end of the two days, the culprits were apprehended. The workers were of great assistance in this. Once he identified the men, her boss was allowed to leave the city and he took the flight back to Mumbai that night.
At the airport terminal, Geet and Maan were waiting at the baggage claim area for their baggage when she caught sight of him. He was waiting for his baggage at the conveyor belt next to theirs. She stiffened and turned her head away from him just as he looked up and saw her. For a brief second their eyes met. He tried to smile but she did not reciprocate. Instead she dragged her husband to the far side of the conveyor belt. Maan looked at her in confusion and turned around to see what had prompted this sudden reaction from her. When he saw him, he understood his wife's behaviour and did not protest. He pushed the trolley to where she wanted to go. Soon their baggage arrived and they collected it and left the airport without turning around to see him again.
He collected his baggage soon thereafter and ruefully smiled as he wheeled the trolley to the taxi stand.
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