Chapter Twenty - Uncle and Mansi

He drove Mansi to the clinic near his house. On his way out he did the right thing calling out to one of the ladies who were in the cabin when Mansi felt sick.

“Sampada, would you please accompany us to the doctor’s clinic? Mansi might need your assistance.” The woman agreed immediately; greedy for information – he knew it.

On his way to the clinic he thought about the way the ladies had looked at Mansi and then at him, it made him sick. After all that he had done for them, being there for them when they needed someone to guide them in life; being the one to fulfil their financial needs by employing them in the office, the office which need not be there in first place; what he got in return of all the favours was disappointing to know. He had never expected anything from them in return for what he had done. Yes, it was true that he had set up the office for Mansi and then employed others, not really considering whether he really needed their services or not. He had given them a place in the office, a place in his life; he had considered them as a family. 

The doctor examined Mansi and informed the both of them that Mansi needed rest. The vomiting and loss of consciousness were merely the symptoms of stress and lack of sleep. A day’s rest would put her back on track.

He told Mansi that he would take her to his house and she should rest there for the day and then he would drive her back to the chawl if she so insists. He wanted to talk to her; he was sure Mansi understood because she did not refuse the offer.

On the way out from the clinic he turned to the other woman and told her politely that he did not need her services anymore but she could continue working for him until she found another job where she could choose to work or gossip.

Mansi looked at Uncle, too shocked to speak. She did not know he had this side to him. The ‘Uncle’ who was always there to take care of anyone’s and everyone’s problems, who always cared for people and understood their needs; not only understood but did something about it – this Uncle had now turned into someone who was firing an employee for what she had conveyed through her eyes and then gossiped about it.

The other woman was shocked as well. She could not believe Uncle had just fired her for such a petty reason as this. She also knew that it was pointless to justify her behaviour, instead she opted for a tactic she was sure would work on Uncle. She started crying. She pleaded guilty and apologized and begged him not to fire her. But Uncle did not change his decision. Disappointed, the woman was about to leave when Uncle said, “Tell that friend of yours, she is fired as well.” Sampada nodded and turned around to leave. After walking a few steps she turned around again to face Uncle, the expression on her face had shifted from sorrow to anger.

“You are firing us because we caught on to you, isn’t it? You little old man!” she spat in anger.
Uncle shook his head as if he knew it was coming. Mansi could not take it, “Mind your language.” She yelled.
“You stay out of this, you whore.” The woman yelled back. Mansi was taken aback by this outburst but not as much as she was after what happened next.
The patient man, all of the employees of the office had seen for all this time vanished somewhere behind this man who took hurried steps towards the woman and slapped her hard across the face. 
Uncle held Mansi by her arm and began to drag her away. He stopped after taking few steps and turned around towards the woman who was massaging her cheek and said, “Don’t you dare talk to my daughter like that.”

He held Mansi’s hand and walked away leaving the shell-shocked woman alone on the road.

It felt as if a heavy weight was lifted off his chest. It felt good to admit to a third person that Mansi was his daughter. He knew this news would travel fast, Sampada would first tell the other fired colleague and then the entire office would know that Mansi was his daughter. He turned to look at Mansi. For a moment he had gotten selfish; admitting to someone that Mansi was his daughter only because he thought it was the right thing to do. He had not bothered to know how Mansi would feel about it. Mansi was deep in thoughts. He did not know what she was thinking. The expression on her face did not give away anything. In fact, her face was expressionless, something he had never seen before. Mansi had always been easy to read. Her mood reflected on her face even if she did not want it to. 
His own face embraced gloom as they both silently walked towards his car.

Mansi did not know how to react. She did not know how she felt about Uncle revealing to Sampada that he was her father. In a way, he had done the right thing. It was the only possible way to shut that woman’s dirty mouth. On the other hand, she also knew that everyone in the office would now know that she was his daughter. Was she ready for it? How could she know when in the first place she was not sure whether she was okay with being a daughter to ‘Uncle’. She knew it was silly to think about at this moment, but she wondered how she would address him in future. How could she continue calling him ‘Uncle’ when she knew he was her father? She realized ‘Uncle’ was staring at her, perhaps trying to read her expressions to know how she felt about the whole thing. She tried her best to keep the confusion from being shown on her face. When she faced Uncle as they approached the car, she looked into his eyes and knew immediately that she had succeeded keeping her face expressionless. 

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