one more package
Munna had the habit of drinking water soon after brushing his teeth and before consuming the first cup of tea in the morning. He opened the door of the refrigerator in search of the water bottle. The sweet aroma of the ripened jackfruit pulp emanated from the fridge. The smell was pleasingly delightful.
“Who felt the desire in jackfruit?” Munna asked his wife.
“Who else is crazy in this house for jackfruit?” Pallavi who was having her coffee at the dining table snapped back. “I have detestation for jackfruit. The kids dislike too. You are the only exception. When Urmila saw it, yesterday in the supermarket, she picked up a piece for you. Poor girl, she muddled with the latex and separated the seeds. The edible pulp is now ready for consumption.”
Urmila was their maid servant.
“Any plans to prepare the steamed jackfruit cakes or jackfruit muffins?” The craving stemmed out.
“Why not go to your home town to relish the jackfruit cakes and muffins? Your sisters always wait for the opportunity of serving you the southern delicacies.” Pallavi was infuriated. “Urmila is not aware of such preparations. If you remember her last year’s attempt of making jackfruit cake had become such a huge flop show. Perhaps, she could try the pudding. But the chances of success are grim.”
“If you show personal interest and initiative both cake and muffin could be possible.” Munna winked while keeping the water bottle back in the fridge.
“Shut up.” She retorted. “Who has got time to satisfy your whims and fancies? The kitty party is nearing up. Plenty of work is still pending. I am also busy with the social work group. We are organizing a charity show in support of the tsunami victims. I have no time to get occupied with your cakes and muffins.”
Urmila came out from kitchen and placed a hot cup of tea on the table. He was about to savor the fist sip, his cell phone buzzed. He left the cup back on the table and lifted the receiver. He had a close look. The number was unfamiliar.
“Hello.” He cleared his voice.
“Hello sir. I hope you recognize me. I am Karan.” The voice from the other end sounded emotional.
“I am not able to recollect.” Munna had forgotten.
“I am Karan, retired head master Vilas Rao’s son.” He clarified. “You remember I had called you yesterday? Just yesterday I came to this city from my home town. You had assured to meet me today.”
“Oh yes. How are you?” Munna struggled for words as he distantly recollected. Yesterday he had averted Karan.
“Thank you. I am fine. Could I come home now?” Karan asked with no hesitation.
“Now could be difficult.” He was troubled by the jerk. “I am pretty busy. There is hardly any time. I have to go to office.”
“Could I meet you in the office? I have the address.” Karan requested.
“Okay, it is fine. I will see you in the office.” Munna reluctantly responded.
Munna had reasons for his internal agitation. ‘Most of the graduates from his home town as soon as they accomplish their degree certificate look up to me for job opportunity. Why is it so? Why do they expect an easy entry into Munna group of industries just because they arrive from the same place where I was born? People are not aware the way I have struggled and toiled to be successful, that too on my own with no godfather to support. These guys withdraw from hard battle grounds and tend to grab easy routes.’
Munna had no faith in candidates who approach on reference. He was proud of the employees who come through the HR department and earn the fame by sheer competence. This was how he had built his companies. People would tend to term him supercilious, but he had his own reasons to discourage job aspirants who rely on just blessing.
But in Karan’s case there was a catch. His father was Vilas Rao, retired head master who used to be Munna’s neighbor during the school days. Munna’s father was the landlord, had built three cottages in front of their villa. They were given on rent and Vilas Rao was one among the tenants, living with his wife. Munna and his friends would visit Vilas Rao’s house to learn Mathematics. Vilas Rao had explained them the most complex problems in most simple methods.
This was done without any financial gain. Munna’s father had clarified his intention to pay the tuition fee. Vilas Rao had rejected the offer and made it clear that the doors of the house remain open for students who were keen to enhance the wisdom. Whenever they had met Vilas Rao on Mathematics coaching, his wife would generously treat them with hot chocolate and yummy snacks. They were mouth-watering. Munna smacked his lips when he thought about them.
During those days the couple was childless. Once Munna passed his high school and moved to the city hostel, his interactions with Vilas Rao became sporadic. As the time passed the head master bought a small piece of land in the same town and built a neat house. They tenancy agreement came to an end. Once they shifted to their own sweet home the couple was blessed with two kids. Though infrequent he had come across the headmaster on some occasions.
“I have realized your potential while coaching.” Vilas Rao had fondly patted his back more than once. “Munna, you are a potent force of triumph. Self reliance is your fundamental virtue. You will succeed and make your own place in the big league.”
Vilas Rao’s prophesy had come true. Munna climbed the ladder up in life without being burden to others. Always self-dependent, he accomplished growth with calculative moves and minimum risk investments.
‘Vilas Rao had always encouraged the values of self reliance based on hard work. But now when it was his son’s turn why did he conveniently alter the philosophy? Ultimately he unearthed the method to retrieve the ‘guru-dakshina’ for the tuitions given in gratis by referring his son for a job?’
Karan was determined to reach him!
Munna lifted his fist and softly thumped table. The tea had become cold. He felt the fury within as the annoyance further aggravated.
“What happened? Do you have one more package from your home town?” Pallavi teased him.
One more package? Package was the code word given by his wife to the job seekers who travel to the city from Munna’s home town. These packages were regular feature of his life.
“Yes. I have one more package.” He gulped the cold tea. “I am just thinking on how to avoid the delivery.”
“Your big problem is,” Pallavi grumbled. “During your vacation to the town you exhibit too much of generosity while distributing your visiting cards. Now how can you say no to the packages? They come in search of their redeemer.”
He had mastered the skill to shun the unsolicited visitors. The situation had become tricky and sticky due to his admiration towards Vilas Rao. If not he knew exactly how to turn away the unwanted packages.
‘Let him come to the office. I have no time to meet him. He would wait and then move off once exhausted.’ Munna had regularly used this ploy. This had commonly happened with candidates from his home town. Those obstinate were diverted to the HR department to file their job applications. The applicants were called for an interview whenever a suitable vacancy would crop up. Some would get selected and many were rejected purely based on the factor of competence. Munna had no reservation in encouraging those who display their ability when the opportunity was given.
He could be the son of the headmaster or perhaps referred by influential political connection, Munna would not compromise with company’s rules and regulations. The parameters were no different for Karan.
He dressed up and joined his family at the dining table for breakfast. Urmila served the jackfruit pulp which he relished. He arrived at the office by 9:00 am. By 9:30 am he attended a meeting with the marketing managers. The meeting went on more than an hour. When he returned back from the conference hall a customer from London had already arrived. Munna informed his assistant to send the customer in. He was about to cut off the line, his assistant continued.
“You have one more visitor.” He notified.
“Who is that?” Munna was in hurry.
“He informed that he is from your home town. His name is Karan.”
“Is it Karan?” Munna was irritated. “Could you instruct Karan to meet Mr. Bhupati, our HR manager? Let him give his resume. I would be busy with guest from London for next couple of hours. I would not like to be disturbed and please no telephone calls.”
“Sure sir.” His assistant replied.
Munna’s meeting with customer from London began and showed excellent advancement. They discussed on various issues to improve the sales and step up the promotion support. Before going out with the visitor for lunch he verified the status with his assistant.
“You have a very long list of callers.” He updated.
“I am taking the guest out for lunch. Let us sit and sort out once I am back.” Munna intended to disconnect the line.
“Sir, I would like to remind that…..” The voice was hesitant.
“What is it?” Munna pounced.
“Your visitor Mr.Karan is still waiting to meet you.” He reported.
“Why did not you send him to the HR manager?” Munna became impatient.
“I advised him to meet Mr. Bhupati. But he politely refused.” His assistant explained. “The guy is adamant. He insists in meeting you. It seems his father used to be your teacher. He sounds as if he knows you really well.”
“Let him wait. I have no time.” Munna retorted.
While going out for lunch with his guest, Munna saw a young man waiting outside his cabin. He did pay attention to the boy on the sofa as he moved across. Munna’s intentions were unmistakable. ‘There are so many teachers who have taught me. I can not provide jobs for all their children. I have made the rules for the company and will not break them.’
Munna entertained his guest in a five star restaurant. He left him at the airport and it was 3:00 pm when he came back to his office. The young man was still sitting outside his cabin. Munna wanted to scream and throw him out. He controlled his fury and walked in.
‘What a stubborn creature! I have given the clues of disinterest to meet him. Why is he so adamant? Does it mean that this one package which I can not avoid?’
By that time his accountant came in with some statements. The accounted stayed with him until 3:45 pm. Once the accountant vacated the chair he called his assistant.
“Is Karan still waiting?” Munna was curious.
“I do not think he would go without seeing you.”
“Didn’t you tell him I am busy?”
“I made attempts to persuade him in all possible ways. But the gentleman is ready to wait. We can force him out by calling the security.” He was visibly upset. “Then I do not know how would you react? He is from your home town, that too son of a teacher who has taught you, perhaps not advisable to be ill-mannered.”
“Did he go out for lunch?”
“I don’t think so.”
Munna’s conscience opened up and pricked within. He was bothered by the internal conflict. When he was small God knows how many times he must have had tasty food at head master’s house? The burps released from the mouth had remained unforgettable. ‘Am I such uncultured and ungrateful character? I did not even bother to check if he needs any help? Why didn’t I invite him for lunch?’
Munna lost the battle in front of his conscience.
“You may send Mr. Karan in.” He instructed.
A young and very attractive gentleman stepped in. ‘I did not have such powerful personality when I was young.’ An envious reflection needled Munna’s psyche followed by the appreciation.
“My name is Karan.” He offered his hand. “I am Vilas Rao’s son. I can understand. You are a very busy person. Please bear with me if I caused any inconvenience.”
“I am sorry, I made you to wait.” Munna loved the way Karan spoke.
“It is okay. It is my good fortune that I got the chance to meet you.” Karan sat down. “Actually my dad had instructed me to see you as soon as I land up in this city. He has very high regard for you. I have heard of your success story. There is plenty to learn from you. My dad says you are exceptionally brilliant, always independent and self reliant.”
“It is untrue if I say that I have not taken assistance from others.” Munna was truthful. “I should not forget that I was just good in Mathematics. But your dad made me the best. However we try to be self reliant, we do get assisted for the success what we achieve in our life.”
“That reflects on the magnitude of your modesty.” Karan replied.
“What is your area of specialization?” Munna decided to help him. He was impressed.
“I have done computer Engineering and MBA.” Karan answered.
“I am sure you are looking for a job.” Munna smiled.
“Actually I am already employed.” He responded. “A New York based Multinational has signed me for two years contract. I have a flight tomorrow early morning. I would have missed the opportunity to meet you if at all I had not waited.”
Munna could not believe his ears. His ego was hurt. All this time he treated Karan like any other job seeker. ‘What made to think like this? Karan has not come to the city in search of a job. I had dubbed him as one more package!’
It was a bolt from the blue. Munna slowly recovered from the shock. The guilt and the shame bothered him to ends.
“Most important, if I had failed to meet you I would have been unsuccessful in delivering this package which Mom has sent for you.” Karan removed a packet from his leather bag.
“Your Mom has sent a parcel for me?” Munna was taken by surprise.
“Yes, this package contains jackfruit cakes and muffins.” He continued. “I had kept in the fridge to avoid it getting spoiled. Mom ordered me to deliver this. Dad told me, you used to love this snack when you were small.”
Munna could not speak while receiving the package. He smacked his lips. His eyes were moist with overflow of emotions.