Shaloween kept tossing and turning in bed for a long time before she finally fell asleep.
She woke feeling a bit relaxed yet quite disturbed. She looked at the Cuckoo-clock that hung on the wall in her hall. It was 7 A.M. – a little late than her usual waking time. However, she didn’t mind much. Just after she had finished her morning prayers, her phone rang. As she picked up the phone from the table to answer the call, she was perplexed to see the name of the caller. Shekhar Chandra it was!
A few seconds went by with the mobile still ringing in her hand before she took the call.
“Hello . . . Good morning, Sir”
“Very good morning . . . I hope you are awake or did I disturb your sleep?”, came the voice from the other end.
“I’m awake, Sir”, said Shaloween politely.
“That’s good! I need you to work out certain things before I reach office today. I will mail the details to the official email id so that you can access them”, said Shekhar Chandra as he went on to explain the nitty-gritties of the work before hanging up.
The urgency of work soon took over Shaloween as she rushed into her household chores in an attempt to leave home early that day.
“Shiva, I need piping hot ginger tea today . . . a lot of work . . . and my mind is in shambles”, she said to the office boy as she opened the door to her chamber.
“By the way, for how many days have the supervising officers been deputed to our office . . . any idea?”, she asked a seeming-to-know-all type subordinate who had just come in.
“They’ll be here for a couple of days more, probably. Earthquake assessment is almost over and with not much damage, there isn’t really a lot that they have to do here”, came the reply.
“C’mon, just focus on work Shaloween! Shed off your baggages . . . you have to perform for your office . . . Shekhar Chandra would leave . . . your work will stay . . . don’t let anything bother you”, Shaloween pepped herself as she started working.
It was a sultry day and with the air conditioning not working, Shaloween was sweating profusely as she worked. With no one in her chamber, she let her hair hang loose to the left side so as to let some breeze from the ceiling fan pass through the damp hair roots. She was so engrossed in work that she got startled when the door to her chamber was thrown wide open and in walked Shekhar Chandra.
She fumbled a “Good morning” as she hurriedly fixed her hair before he would get a chance to look at her properly.
“Is the report ready?”, asked Chandra matter-of-factly.
“Almost done, Sir”, replied Shaloween.
“Well, then I’ll wait in Mr. Sikdar’s room till you are done with it”, said Shekhar as he left the room with a bang of the door without much expression.
Shaloween heaved a sigh of relief. Alone in her room, she could focus better. The events of the last few days had been extremely unsettling for her.
“What do men think – single women are easily available for their perversions? Being single doesn’t make a woman an easy game for men to entertain themselves with. Doesn’t this fellow feel remorseful behaving the way he does? Huhh!!”, she had thought a while back in between the work.
Interactions with Shekhar Chandra had been purely official that morning. She thought to herself victoriously, “probably this fellow has realised that he cannot get his way through to me!”
It took two more hours for Shaloween to complete the task. She got up from her chair to show the report to Sikdar, Mahem and Chandra carrying her mobile and the pen drive with the data.
Walking her way along the corridor, she flipped open her mobile to view the unread messages. She hadn’t got the time to check any messages since the time she turned up to work that day.
“You look gorgeous with your hair open. I hope you won’t disappoint me!”
“Not again!”, yelped Shaloween in her mind as she stopped short of her steps, feeling weak in her legs.
That was a message from Shekhar Chandra.