Joined: 19 May 2012
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Joined: 20 May 2012
"Hi there! I'm Khushi Gupta from The Economist."
The guy seemed pathetic. He was dressed in a drab knee-length overcoat of a mustard-ish brown shade and thick, grey rimmed spectacled. His dirty blonde hair was unfashionably pulled to one side with what looked like... oil?
"Hello," he smiled at her. "I'm Ethan Dente, of Rosebud Banks, pleased to meet you. And this is my assistant, Archie Board," he pointed to the woman beside him, wearing an electric pink dress and excessive amounts of make-up.
Khushi stared at them in shock. Ethan Dente. Rosebud banks. Oh shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! It was the bank she was indebted to! And this Ethan was the manager there! He had sent her innumerable letters and memos asking her to pay her debts but she ignored each of them. When he called home she would invent all sorts of illnesses to avoid meeting him.
The woman narrowed her eyes at Khushi. "Khushi Gupta... familiar name, isn't it, Ethan?"
Don't recognise me! Don't recognise me!
"Err... You might have read one of my articles," Khushi squeaked as soon as she realised they had no idea who she was. She pasted a big grin on her face, hoping to escape quickly. Suddenly, Arnav Singh Raizada's company seemed a much better option.
Oh no! Jeff!
A fat balding man came up to her and flung an arm around her. He stunk of alcohol, making Khushi wince.
"Sir! You're drunk!"
He chortled and ignored her to start a conversation with Ethan and Archie. Khushi was desperate to leave but he had her imprisoned under his weight. The introductions were quickly made.
"Ah! Rosebud Banks, you say? Which branch?"
Ethan smiled tightly. "Fulham."
"Fulham? Trendy Fulham!" Jeff exclaimed.
Shut up Jeff! Don't you say anything about me!
"So, you must know Khushi here!" Jeff went on. "She lives there too!"
It was like the sun was dawning on both Ethan and his assistant's faces. Khushi's smile fell and Jeff straightened himself.
"Well! Nice meeting you!" he held up a finger. "I need another drink!"
"So, Ethan," said Archie shrilly. "Khushi Gupta, familiar name, isn't it?"
Her eyes were shooting daggers at Khushi who gulped nervously. Ethan nodded.
"In fact, one of our clients, right?" he replied sardonically.
"The one who had cancelled our last meeting because her dog had just died?"
"If I'm not wrong, yes."
They both looked at Khushi who stood there like a lamb cornered by two ferocious lions.
"Listen to me very clearly, Miss Gupta," Ethan Dente growled at her, a dangerous edge in her voice. "I'm scheduling another meeting, the first Monday of the next month at nine in the morning. I'm giving you enough time to gather your funds to repay your debts. A memo will be sent to you and I will be expecting you. Otherwise, if you boss learns about this..."
Khushi nodded frantically. "I'll be there."
"Fine," Ethan said with a smile after a pause, though Archie did not seem that impressed. "I'll be waiting for you, Miss Gupta."
"We'll know where to find you if you don't turn up now..."
She ran away as soon as they had left her alone. Thankfully, she had not seen Raizada again. Khushi sat in the tube on her way back home, pondering on her encounter with Dente. Now he had seen her, he knew where exactly where she worked.
That was utter crap! Jeff was an ass. Couldn't he just keep his fat mouth shut or what? She did have a few option in front of her.
She could go and throw a cheque on their faces. But the problem was, where would she get the money from. She could go tell Ethan Dente the truth, that is she did not have the money. No, that offered no escape. In fact, she knew it would be easier for him to sue her. She could lie, say that the money was on its way. The trouble? They would never believe her.
Another option? Simple. Just don't go to the bloody meeting! But they knew where she worked, and once this whole story reached her boss's ears, she would be fired on the spot. She could run away, leave town, leave the country. But where to? Garima's? Khushi sighed. She did want to burden her aunt once again. And asking money from Anji was out of question. Anjali already had her own expenses and on the top of everything else, since the past few months, she had been the only one to pay the rent.
She tried thinking of anything else, but her mind had gone blank. Absolutely blank. On a hitch she looked up, out of the train which had just stopped.
She had missed her stop!
"Hey Khushi," she heard a grim voice coming from in front of her. She raised her eyes from her coffee to see Saira, who had an apartment on the same floor as Anji and her. Saira was a beautiful Pakistani girl who had initially come to London for her studies. During her first year at university, she had fallen in love with a British Christian, one of her professors, and she had even gone against her family to marry him.
Less than six months later, he had gotten bored with her and left her alone and pregnant. When Saira had realised she was going to have a baby, she had gone to see him to plead him to return at least for their unborn child's sake, only to learn her so-called husband had been married already for some fifteen years and he had four children with his wife. A heartbroken Saira had then lived her life on her own with her two daughters, identical twins, Zaynah and Zafirah.
"Can sit at your table?"
Khushi nodded with a smile even though a storm was brewing in her mind. Three weeks had gone by and she had no idea of how to reimburse the money to Rosebud Banks.
"Hey Saira. How are the girls?"
Khushi noticed her friend's thoughtful frown.
"Is there something wrong, Saira?"
The woman looked at Khushi silently for some time. Then, suddenly, she broke down.
"So, what are you going to do now?" Anjali whispered.
"I don't know!" Saira wailed. "My daughters! What will happen to them?"
Khushi and Anji glanced at each other. When Saira had burst into tears downstairs in the cafe, Khushi had steered her up in her flat where Anji had just woken up. The girls were thankfully off to school and their mother had told the two friends what had happened.
The insurance that covered Saira's little family, Brunswick Life, had just faced a terrible windfall. All the clients were supposed to be refunded their investments as well as the profits but when Saira had phoned them, she had learnt that she would not be acknowledgeable for this. In fact, a few weeks earlier, an agent had proposed some sort of deal which Saira had accepted and, unknown to her, it had had an effect on her contract. Now, she had recently lost her job and hearing of the windfall, she had hoped to get some money. But she felt at a loss.
Khushi gritted her teeth and stared outside the window. Who the hell had invited trouble over here?
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