Shabana left the school with a feeling of relief on her last day of her CBSE Board paper. Outside the examination room, while passing the corridor, at the gate and until Darya Ganj Road, she found all the students to be excited and chirpy. They noisily discussed about the colleges and the streams, which they would be choosing for Graduate Studies.
In the cacophony certain names such as Stephens, Hindu, Miranda, Kirori Mal were audible.
She told herself “I don’t care about what my class fellows want, but I don’t want further studies, why should I continue being a burden on my parents?”
She had anxiously waited for this day for so many years, while she observed her parent’s struggle to make both ends meet.
Her Abba was a maulvi at a mosque and her mother looked after the household. She was one among six siblings living in an old house at Khari Baoli.
Unlike rest of her family members she had not resigned to the fate, she wanted to bring change in her family’s status. She had resolved to quit her studies after the SSC board and try her two main strengths- Intelligence and her Command on Urdu Language.
She dressed herself in white salwar, a blue printed kameez and black sandals. She combed her thickset jet black hair and braided them into a bun. She applied eye liner, wore a bindi and applied moisturizer on her face and arms. Next as per the society norms for, she covered herself with a burqa and walked towards Golcha Theatre. Weaving through the crisscross narrow streets for twenty minutes, she finally reached a small gate at the basement of the building. She pushed it open, lifted a green velvet curtain and walked to the man sitting behind the counter. The place was camouflaged as something like an entrance to a Go-Down, but the owner catered to a niche market. She took off her burqa and paid him twenty bucks; in return he handed her a locker key. She went to the adjoining room, opened her locker and placed the burqa inside, she took out a small mirror from the locker and appraised her looks, she thought that she looked cool. She placed the mirror back in the locker, shut it and got out to the main road. Walking without the burqa was a liberating experience for her. Muslim community customs were undergoing a change, yet old Delhi was orthodox, the women had not been able to free themselves from the religious strangle hold. Contrary the customs of the Muslim community in Delhi, the Muslim families were quite liberal in other parts of Delhi and suburban areas.
Women like Malala Yousafzai, noble peace prize winner and Greta Thundberg,16-year-old girl, nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, were Shabana’s icons. She aspired for the day when she would also make her own contribution towards “Women Liberation.” She believed that all big ideas had modest beginnings.
In ten minutes, she was at Pragati Maidan metro station, she purchased a coupon and boarded a train. Her Metro ride via Rajeev Chowk to Huda City Centre took about an hour. The final walk up to Signature Tower was long, but she didn’t feel the fatigue because of her high spirits. Before entering the tall building, she took halt at a tea stall. The hawker gave her freshly brewed tea, while she sat down to savor it looking at the passers’ by.
“Allah ho Akbar,” she prayed quietly, before she entered the foyer of the tall structure. In front she found the list of the companies, engraved on the brass panels. She picked one, ‘Regent Corporation’. The lift took her to tenth floor and then she walked past many offices before reaching her destination. She took a deep breath and went inside.
She saw a reception area, consisting of a cushioned sofa set and a rectangular center table. On its right side an artificial four feet high wooden partition divided half the length of office. A passage parallel to the partition led to a pantry on left and two washrooms on right. Two wooden cabins stood parallel to one side of the passage while three desk top computers with revolving chairs and two filing cabinets stood on the other side of the partition. A young man was sitting on a revolving chair and was working on a computer. He wore a light blue shirt, dark trousers and black shoes. He was about 5 feet 8inches tall, fair, clean shaven and had thick dark hair. He noticed her and signaled to wait at the reception and once more got himself busy.
She had to wait for ten minutes, before he logged off his computer and came to her.
She got up from the sofa and wished him, “Good morning.”
“I am looking for a job, do you have a vacancy.”
The man asked her to follow him into the first cabin.
It was a spartan furnished cabin with a teak table, a revolving chair, two guest armchairs, and a landscape by Rupchand. The cabin was airconditioned and it had LED tube lights.
He took the revolving chair, while she took the guest chair.
“My name is Rohit, what is yours?”
“I am Shabana Banu.”
“Have you got your Bio Data?”
She took out an envelope from her bag and handed it to him.
He noticed that she was eighteen and she had appeared for her SSC board exam. Her previous semester’s marksheet was enclosed, which certified that she was a high ranker.
Rohit observed that she was quite enthusiastic, he was confident that she could be trained on the job.
“OK, what are your expectations?”
“20K a month.”
“OK, we work five days a week from ten to six, with 45 minutes lunch break. You are going to be my first employee, of course excluding one helper who is a part time worker. He comes for one hour before the office opens and he can be called, if there are guests.”
Shabana was overjoyed to learn about her being selected.
“Thanks, I am going to break the news to my Ammi and Abba today. When can I join?”
Rohit walked out and returned after ten minutes with two cups of tea. He picked one and placed it before her and helped himself with the other one.
“Interview is over, now I will tell you about the company.”
“Regent Corporation is an Event Management company, I founded it six months back.”
She nodded while listening to him attentively.
“We will divide our work in two parts. I will handle the sales and you will liaison with the vendors. So far I was carrying out both the functions.”
“OK, what would I be expected to do?”
“You would ring up the vendors to place orders, check their credentials and supervise execution.”
He shared with her some personal information also,
like he had been able to convince his Dad to lend him Rs. 50 lacs and he had promised to return one and half times the original amount within three years.
She guessed that Rohit was an ambitious person.
He admitted that It had been difficult to get reasonably big orders till then. On account of that, the company had managed to cover up only the running expenses. He complimented that her visit to the office was a pleasant surprise. He told her that if she worked hard, she would be an asset to the company.
He found Shabana to be intelligent and pleasant person.
They developed a good rapport with each other during the meeting.