Chapter Twelve - Mansi

Scenes of the past few days flashed before Mansi’s eyes. She could not not-think about how his close proximity to her did not evoke fear in her. It was something that had not happened to her ever before. She had gotten used to cringing whenever someone of the opposite sex touched her; even when it was accidental brushing of hands.

“Are you alright?” Uncle’s question brought Mansi out of her thoughts.
“I am sorry, Uncle. What were you saying?” Mansi apologized.
“This guy, Manish Kumar, seemed like a perfect candidate to me; even though the fact is that he does have another job already.” Uncle put forth his viewpoint.

“He has a job and he wants to work here as well? How does that qualify him to be the one who desperately needs the job?” Mansi questioned. 

“Well, for starters – his current job is over demanding and the boss is cruel, not compassionate towards his employees, he pays less. In addition to that, who would not like to work for a boss like me?” Uncle said and smiled. Mansi smiled back. It was true. Uncle was really compassionate towards his employees and that is the reason many people took advantage of him. Including her – a little voice in her head said. 
“Also, I would have not known about his other job until he had mentioned it himself, I do not see any reason for him to mention the other job apart from being honest with me. I like honesty, you know that.” Uncle continued.

“And he says he will quit the job after a few days. Until then he would prefer working night shift IF he is selected.” Uncle concluded.
That last part took Mansi by surprise. He wanted to work night shift? It would have given her the creeps had it not been Manish Kumar they were talking about.
It did make her feel a little uncomfortable. She was going to lose the privacy. She realized that Uncle was staring at her. He was waiting for an answer.
Uncle knew very well what it meant for her. Manish Kumar working night shift with her, just the two of them in the office!

“How many days would he work night shifts?” Mansi surprised herself by asking the question.
“Till he leaves his current job, which he would do once he finishes the project he is working on; might take days, weeks or over a month.” Uncle replied and waited to see Mansi’s reaction.
“If you think this guy deserves the job, he deserves it. You can, however, ask him to consider joining after he leaves his current job?” Mansi replied after thinking. True, that he did not give her the creeps, agreed that his touch did not give rise to fear in her, however, she was still not comfortable working with him during night shift.

“I understand. I will talk to him.” Uncle said and walked out to talk to the candidates. He asked everyone to leave except Manish Kumar. Mansi watched from Uncle’s Cabin. She saw the dejected looks on the rejected candidates and felt sad for them. She saw Uncle and Manish walking together towards the cabin. She did not want to be in when Uncle talked to him. She decided to step out. She met them at the door and Uncle read her decision instantly and said he would like to talk to Manish Kumar in private. 

There was a disappointed look on Manish Kumar’s face when he walked out of Uncle’s cabin. Mansi’s heart went out to him as well. Perhaps a little more than for others! Had she made a mistake? Did he really need the job, right now? Was she being unfair to Uncle as well? She was asking too much from him, indirectly telling him to wait for an accountant until this man here got rid of his previous job. But then, Uncle did not need an accountant really. She shook her head; she did not want to think about all this, at least not now. There were lots of emails to be replied to and lots of things in her to-do list. Manish Kumar happened to look at her right when she shook her head. Their eyes met for a brief time before she buried herself in work again and he walked out of the office without a second glance. 

She could not concentrate in her work though. She wanted update on what had happened even though Manish Kumar’s face had revealed the result. She wanted to know from Uncle. After her failed attempts at drafting an email she got up from her desk and walked to Uncle’s office. He was going through some papers. Ledger papers. Legal documents. Perhaps it was not the right time to talk to him. She was about to turn around to leave when Uncle looked up at her and asked her to come in. Uncle put the papers in an envelope and kept the envelope in the drawer before turning to Mansi to talk. 

“He needs to finish this project and he needs this job right now. He needs the money. He has some debts he said. I told him that I could not let him work the night shift and he had to find a way.” Uncle told Mansi, knowing that she had come to his cabin for exact same reason. Mansi nodded, she did not know what to say.
After a while she asked Uncle, “Am I being too selfish?”
Uncle sighed before continuing. “I would not say that though I must admit that I have been so firm with someone for the first time in all these years. I understand your reasons for working night shift and I understand you do not want anyone else working with you, especially a guy.”
Mansi sensed an unspoken ‘but’ in Uncle’s voice.
“Anyways, he said he will think about it and get back to us. So, we have a few days before we finally recruit the runner up candidate.” Uncle stated matter-of-factly. Mansi nodded and walked out of the cabin. The feeling of guilt started creeping up her toes; and by the time she reached the desk it was already tightening its grip around her heart. She sorted through the candidate forms she had collected from Uncle’s cabin and took Manish Kumar’s form out of the lot. She read through the form and found the phone number he had listed for contact. It was his mobile number. She took a pen and noted down the number on a piece of paper and kept it in her purse. She would talk to him, she decided. Then, she buried herself in work.

She never realized when it was closing time. People started shutting down their computers, files and stuff when she was in the middle of writing a draft. She was still working when others left. She was about to send the email when Uncle walked to her desk and told her that she should leave. She told him that she needed to send a couple of emails before closing for the day and she would lock the office behind her. Uncle nodded and walked out. 

Mansi took a deep breath. The silence in the office felt comforting but the guilt did not loosen the grip. She sent the email she had finished composing and shut down her computer. She packed her things and took out the piece of paper from her purse. She had just picked up the phone to make the call when she saw a shadow outside the office door. 
“Who is it?” Mansi asked placing the receiver back on the base. 
Manish Kumar appeared from the dark and stepped into the office. 


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