Joined: 14 October 2006
Sameera's days were quite full during the past month or so. She returned after a week's official tour to Delhi to a whole pile of work which had accumulated in her absence. Although she never rested a minute while at work, the load was nowhere near over. Between her weekend trips to Bangalore to keep a watch over her mother and her late sittings at the office, she hardly got the time to visit her friends or socialise. She was dying to spend more time with Geet, especially now that she is in the family way. She wanted to cook her favourite dishes and feed them to her but alas, she never could find the time do to it. But Sameera considered work as worship. Once she was in office, she pushed aside all other thoughts and concentrated on the task at hand.
That day, she was clearing all the old bills when her eyes caught sight of a receipt for one of the consignments that was sent during her absence. She had been handling the order before she had to urgently leave for Delhi to meet one of their long standing clients and thrash out some pending issues with them. Before leaving she had entrusted the job of sending the consignment to the U.S. to her assistant manager, Mr.Jaswal. Going by the receipt date it appeared that the guy has sent the consignment five days late and as a result they suffered an exchange loss of Rs.10 lakh as the rupee had appreciated against the US dollar in the meantime. Had he sent the consignment on time they could have prevented the loss. It did not help that they had not taken a forward cover. Sameera called in Mr.Jaswal and gave him the firing of his life.
"Mr.Jaswal. Why did you not adhere to the time schedule given to you? We could have avoided this loss of Rs.10 lakh if only you had stuck to the date the consignment was supposed to be shipped. We would have received the payment also on time," she yelled angrily.
Mr.Jaswal shifted from one leg to the other uneasily. "Ms.Singhania, I...I.... ..," he stammered out, unable to get the words out on seeing the blazing anger in her eyes.
"Mr.Jaswal, I do not have the whole day to wait for your explanation. Has the cat caught your tongue?"
"Ye...es, I ... I mean... nno....., I am.... sorry...I....could ...not send it on the scheduled date because ....my....my mother...had suddenly taken ill and I....I.... had to take...her to the hospital."
"OK, if you could not send it on that day, why did you not send it the next day or the next. Why did you wait for five days before sending it?"
"Ms.Singhania, I... I ....could not leave my mother back..alone in the hospital. I had to stay with her."
"Do you have no one who could to take care of her? What about your wife, Mr.Jaswal?"
"My wife absolutely detests my mother. They are constantly at each other's throats even on ordinary days. I couldn't leave her in my wife's care knowing her animosity towards my mother. She wouldn't hesitate to throttle her in her incapacitated state."
"Look, here. Mr.Jaswal. I am not here to listen to your personal problems. Once you report for duty, all thoughts should be on your work and nothing else. Tell me which of us do not have problems? That does not mean we can take shelter in them to shirk our responsibilities here at work. Mr.Singh is not running a charitable organisation but a profitable business and it is our duty to give it our best as we are getting well paid for doing exactly that. If this company has ten people like you, the company will soon have to file for bankruptcy. Hereafter I don't want you to give any excuses for non-completion of work. If you do, then I may have to take some severe action against you," she said in a no-nonsense tone, wagging her fingers as she concluded.
"It will not happen again, Ms.Singhania."
"Good. You may go now," she waved him off as she turned her attention to the next item of work.
As Mr.Jaswal went to the door, Dev moved hurriedly away from his place behind it and returned to his cabin, engrossed in deep thought.
That afternoon, he called Sameera in to get a briefing about the business. Sameera entered with a file in her hand where she had given the detailed report about the month's activities. Taking the file from her hands, he asked her to sit. While going through it he asked her about the consignment to the U.S.
"Ms.Singhania, why have we suffered a loss of Rs.10 lakh in this deal?"
"It is my fault, Mr.Singh. I should have ensured that the consignment had reached our client on time for him to make the payment. A delay in sending it had resulted in delayed payment which in turn had resulted in a loss since the rupee appreciated in the meantime. I will ensure this does not happen again."
"But Ms.Singhania, the entire transaction seems to have taken place during your absence. Then why are you blaming yourself?"
"I may not have been physically present, Sir, but it was my duty to have followed up on this task and ensured it was completed on time. I failed to do it. It will not happen again."
Dev was amazed by this woman. She blasted Mr.Jaswal so much that the guy very nearly p***d in his pants and yet here she was, shielding him and assuming all the blame. He was curious to know the reason and decided to confront her directly.
"Ms.Singhania. I overheard you admonishing Mr.Jaswal. My, my, my. Should have seen how hot and red with anger your face had become. I think I could have toasted a bread on your cheeks. Must say that you do look quite attractive when you are angry, Ms.Singhania."
Sameera's initial shock turned to anger as she turned her fiery eyes to him.
"Since when have you started snooping outside my cabin, Mr.Singh?"
"I'm sorry, I came to your cabin to get this month's business report but ended up inadvertently listening to you blasting your assistant manager for dereliction of duty. Did not feel like entering in after that and risk getting my head chewed off as well. Thought I'll wait till you cooled down. That's why I called you now but looks like your anger has still not cooled down."
Before she could say anything he continued, "Ms.Singhania, I can't understand you at all. One moment you were reprimanding a man for failing in his duty but the next moment you end up protecting him and taking the blame on yourself."
"Mr.Singh I scolded the man for not sending the consignment on time as he should have done. It is my right as his boss to expect him to fulfil my instructions. At the same time I also have a duty as a manager to ensure that the work was completed. If I had called up and checked up whether the consignment had left, I would have realised that it had not. I could have then made alternate arrangements to see to it that it did. I assumed that the work would be done and that is my fault. It was a costly mistake because we have lost Rs.10 lakh as a result of it."
"Ms.Singhania, don't be so harsh on yourself. You did delegate the duty to someone thinking he will do it. Unfortunately he did not. How can you be blamed for it?"
"But I was his boss, so I have to assume responsibility for his omissions and commissions as well," she tried to justify herself.
"If that is the case, I am your boss, so I will have to assume responsibility for this loss. Had I taken a forward cover, we could have avoided the exchange loss. By failing to anticipate the rupee appreciation, I was not smart enough, especially considering that I had studied Economics. So stop the self flagellation."
Just then someone knocked at his door."Yes, come in!" he called out.
Mr.Jaswal entered in with folded hands. "Thank you, Sir. I came to know just now from the accounts department that all my mother's medical expenses have been settled by the company. I am sorry I had caused a loss to your company and yet you have been gracious enough to overlook that and help me."
"Mr.Jaswal, what I did was the duty of an employer. I hope you will discharge your duties as an employee by concentrating on your work as Ms.Singhania had told you to do."
"Yes, Sir," said Jaswal gratefully and left the place.
It was Sameera's turn to be confused by his behaviour. One minute he was making fun of her for yelling at her assistant manager and later taking up for him. Yet now he himself was tacitly supporting her firm stand with her subordinate but at the same time he was compassionate enough to foot all the medical bills of an employee who had caused loss to his company. Looking at her confused expression, he raised an eyebrow enquiringly.
She just shook her head and asked him, "If there is nothing else to discuss, can I now leave? A lot of pending items of work require my attention."
He smiled and nodded his head, "Yes, Ms.Duty First, you may go now."
Although she felt like retorting back to that mocking comment, she let it pass. Inspite of herself she started liking the guy. He seemed to be jovial, smart and most of all a compassionate human being. As he watched her retreating back, his eyes softened with an emotion he did not understand or want to accept as yet. He kept twirling the hemispherical paper weight upside down on the large desk as his thoughts were deeply immersed in this mysterious girl who evoked feelings in him he tried best to forget.
Geet was concerned about Anwesha's well-being, particularly after her conversation with her during the naming ceremony where she had told her that she was planning something big to bring down Arjun. She knew her brother well enough by now to anticipate the lengths he will go to hurt people. If he comes to know that Anwesha was plotting against him he will surely harm her. She wondered whether she should confide in Maan but then her hot-headed husband is no less. He will immediately confront Arjun and thrash him up which will only make things worse. Arjun will then have him safely locked up in prison. She, however, cannot take a chance with Anwesha's safety. She has to speak to Maan and try reasoning with him and ask him not to indulge in anything that will land him in the wrong side of the law, but before that she needs to speak to Anwesha and find out what she was planning to do and how dangerous it is. She called up Anwesha and asked her if she could meet her at a nearby coffee shop. Anwesha agreed and they met at the venue two hours later. Anwesha was accompanied by a bespectacled young gentleman. Geet wondered who he was. As they took their seats Anwesha introduced the man with her.
"Bhabhi, this is Yash Saxena. He was Arjun's classmate in college and is now working for him as his legal adviser."
Between them Anwesha and Yash narrated the whole chain of events since her meeting with him early that year. Yash did his masters in law from the Harvard Law School after post graduation here in India. After working for a legal firm in the U.S. for a couple of years he had returned to India in January that year. One day Anwesha ran into him at the bank quite by chance. Since his face looked familiar, she asked him if she knew him. He then told her that they had met on a couple of occasions during some inter-collegiate events. It is then that she recollected who he was. They had coffee together and caught up with old times. He told her that he had come to attend a job interview for the post of legal adviser at the Handa Group of Hotels. Hearing the name, she was surprised and informed him that her husband, Arjun, was the CEO of the Group. It was Yash's turn to be surprised. She asked him if he wanted her to put in a word to her husband but he declined saying that he would prefer to get the job in his own merit. He enquired when she had got married and how many children she had. At the mention of children, she could not control her tears since that day was the second-month death anniversary of her son. Seeing her emotionally disturbed state, he did not press on.
He had later attended the interview and got the job. Arjun had not recognised him at first which was not surprising because the guy hardly attended college and even when he did, he was too busy flirting with the girls to notice a geek like him. It is only when he joined duty did he reveal who he was. Arjun was all the more happy to have him around and soon trusted him with a lot of details about his company. Moving closely with Arjun Yash found out what a crook he was. His employees were highly dissatisfied with him. Most of them stuck on because of their loyalty to his dead father. The company's profits were also down because of his mismanagement. What disgusted Yash the most was that he had still not changed from his womanising college days. He was having a rollicking affair with a small time model. He had come to know from his colleagues that the guy had taken her to Shimla on a holiday when his wife was on the verge of delivery, lying to her that he had an official engagement. He had not even returned on time for his son's funeral. This had infuriated him and he was on the verge of resigning from his job but something had happened that day which had made him rethink.
Anwesha had dropped in on her husband that day and caught the model on his lap. She rushed out of his office before they noticed her and bumped into Yash who was on his way to submit the resignation letter. Seeing her ashen face he realised that she has come to know about Arjun's betrayal. He took her to a nearby restaurant where she just broke down. She wanted to get out of her marriage but he had asked her to be a little patient. He asked her what was more important to her - getting freedom from him or make him pay for his sins. She admitted that she wanted him to suffer. He said that the best way to hurt him is to bring about his total financial ruin. This would require elaborate planning and execution. He assured her that he will help her in the task and together they will bring him down. Anwesha agreed and from then on kept a close tab on Arjun's activities. She did not want him to suspect anything. That is why when Geet had come over and asked her to divorce her husband, she yelled at her as she had seen Arjun standing outside their room, eavesdropping on their conversation. She wanted to lull him into complacency and make him believe in her loyalty to him.
After waiting for months they had found their first opening when Geet revealed to Anwesha about Arjun-Bansal connection who, in turn, appraised Yash about it. When Yash came to know about the rivalry between Maan and Arjun, he realised that he can manipulate Arjun's hatred for Maan to engineer his downfall. He casually brought up the topic of Bansal's ouster.
"Arjun, I heard that Bansal has been ousted by your brother-in-law, Maan and he is looking out for a replacement. I think we should plant our guy there so that he can continue to do what Bansal did till now."
Arjun was initially taken aback that Yash knew about Bansal and him. Before he could question him further he said that the guy had come looking for him when he was out of town and spilled the beans to him. He had paid him off and asked him not to come back to the city or meet Arjun.
"I must applaud you, Arjun," he continued. "When it comes to business, all relations need to be forgotten. So what if the guy is your brother-in-law? If there is an opportunity to bring down a rival, one should capitalise on it. I know someone who is just right for the job. He has the experience of working in the hotel industry. He is energetic and smart. Maan should not have a problem recruiting him. I will ensure that he does not suspect anything and trace him back to us. The guy I have in mind is also a good snooper. He will hunt out information about Maan's financial dealings. Equipped with this knowledge we should be able to bring him down."
Over the months Arjun had grown to trust Yash's judgement. Although he had not discussed with him his hatred for Maan, now that it is out he was relieved that Yash supported him on his mission to bring Maan down. He agreed to have the guy Yash was suggesting as their informer at Garodia Hotel. Yash pounced on the opportunity and had sent one of his old friends, Vikram, to attend the interview at Maan's hotel. As expected, Vikram had got the job. Now they planned to make Vikram pass on false information to Arjun, who in turn will end up taking wrong decisions based on it.
"Don't worry, Mrs.Khurana. We will ensure that your husband's name or reputation will not be harmed by our deeds. We will also ensure that Arjun does not come to know of our plans. As to Anwesha's safety, I will stand guarantee for it. If everything goes well we should be able to get the man down on his knees in less than a year."
Geet did not know how to react to all this. She knew Maan will not agree to any of this if he came to know of it. The guy absolutely abhorred dishonesty and what Anwesha and Yash planned to do was nothing short of it. She tried telling this to Yash.
"Mrs.Khurana, if we do not operate as deviously as Arjun does, he would plant his own man there and keep creating problems for Maan. If Maan comes to know that Arjun was behind all this, all hell will break lose. After a lot of thought we have come to the conclusion that this was the best course of action, both to protect Maan and also punish Arjun. You have to remove a thorn with a thorn, Mrs.Khurana. We are dealing with a poisonous thorn, so we need to use another poisonous thorn to deal with it."
Anwesha agreed with him and said that now was not the time to tell Maan anything about the plan. When the time was right she herself will tell him everything and explain to him the circumstances under which they decided to take this route.
Geet still looked confused but something about Yash evoked a sense of trust and confidence in him. She noticed a deep care in his eyes for Anwesha. She knew he will not take any chances with her safety. So she decided to play along with them by maintaining her silence. She hoped her judgment about Yash is not proved wrong. On her way back home she dropped into a mandir and prayed for Anwesha's well being and success in her plan.
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