This is Sowmya Johnson Aka Berdilla.
WIDE, sensual mouth compressed, Sanskar stared down at the makeshift CV siting in front of him. It was difficult to know where to begin. The colorful list jobs complemented by the even more impressive lack of duration at each one of them told their own story. As did the brief, uninspiring academic profile. In the normal course of events he would have tossed this application into the bin without even bothering to read the sketchy handwritten personal profile at the end. Unfortunately, this was not the normal course of events.
He finally looked across his highly polished mahogany desk at the girl perched nervously on the chair facing him.
Eight jobs, He pushed himself away from the desk and allowed the lengthening silence to fill in the blanks of what he wanted to say.
Ragini Gadodiya had come to him via a reference from her sister, and in no position to be choosy, here he now was, interviewing for a nanny for his daughter. From what he could see not only was Ragini Gadodiya resoundingly lacking in any relevant experience, she was also flighty and academically challenged.
Huge brown eyes looked back at him and he followed her nervous gesture as she chewed her bottom lip. He might have his hands tied, but that didn’t mean that he was going to make this process easy for her.
I know it sounds like a lot..
You’re twenty-three years old and you’ve held down eight jobs. I think it’s fair to say that it is a lot.
Ragini looked away from the cool dark eyes resting on her. Under his unflinching assessing gaze she was finding it impossible to keep still. Why on earth she here? She had arrived in Kolkata three weeks previously to stay with her sister, with the proviso that she take some time out to consider her options and get her act together. At least those had been the parting words of her parents as they had waved her off at the airport before she’d disappeared across the Chennai.
You’re twenty-three years old, Ragini her mother had said firmly, offering her a plate of homemade biscuits to soften the blow, and you still don’t seem to have any idea what you want to do with your life. Your dad and I would just like to see you settle down. Find something that you enjoy doing—-something you might want to stick with for longer than five minutes… Siya knows all the ins and outs of the business world. She’ll be able to give you some helpful advice. It would do you good spend your summer somewhere else…
No one had mentioned that part of the process would involve getting a job as a nanny. She had never worked with any child in her life before. She couldn’t remember having ever expressed the slightest curiosity about working with one. And yet here she was, sitting in front of a man who chilled her to the bone. The very second she had spun round at the sound of his velvety voice, to see him lounging against the door frame, inspecting her, she had felt a shiver of apprehension skim down her spine. She had prepared herself for someone portly and middle-aged. He was, after all her sister’s boss. He owned the company he ran it and according to Siya he took no prisoners. How could he do all that and still be in his early Twenty-six? But he was—-and, contrary to all expectations, not only was he young, he also has killer looks. Drop-dead, truly sensational killer looks.
But his emotional detachment was terrifying, and his perfect bone structure proclaimed a face that never cracked a smile. Ragini wondered how her sister could work for him without having a nervous breakdown.
And your academic history… I’m finding it hard to tally your lack of qualifications with your sister’s achievements. Siya has a first class degree and is head of my corporate law department. You have…let’s count them…six mediocre GCSE grades and a certificate in Foundation Art…
Yes well I’m not Siya, Mr Maheswari. Two patches of colour appeared on her cheeks. Siya and Piya both excelled at school.
My other sister. She’s a doctor. They were both high achievers. Not everyone is built along the same lines. Cheerful by nature, Ragini was finding that she loathed this man. From his opening words to her—- You’re half an hour late and i don’t tolerate lateness.–to his sweeping assumption that she was a failure. He hadn’t said it in so many words, but it was there lurking in the cold, disdainful expression behind those bitter chocolate eyes.
Okay let’s do away with the formalities and cut to the chase shall we? Sanskar leaned forward and rested his elbow on the desk. You’re here because I am not in a position of choice. I don’t know what precisely, Siya has told you but let me clarify. My ex-wife died some months ago and since than I have had full custody of my ten-year-old daughter. In that period she has seen almost as many nannies as you have seen off jobs. Consequently the agency I deal with have effectively closed their doors to me. I have three house keepers, but they are not suitable for the demands of the job. I could look further afield, but frankly this is a three-month posting—-and finding a career nanny who is willing to offer herself for such a short period of time will not be easy. Time, Miss Gadodiya, is of the essence as far as I am concerned. I work huge hours. I have neither the time nor the ability to cover. Your name cropped up. Your sister sings your praises when it comes to your sociablity. You are here now—–despite your glaring shortcomings.
Not for the first time Sanskar considered the train of events that had led to where he was now.
Divorced for eight years, he had been an infrequent spectator to his daughter’s life. Kavita, his ex-wife, had removed her to connecticut a year after their divorce had become final, and had played so many games when it came to making arrangements for him to visit that the years had elapsed without him ever really feeling connected to Sara. And then six months ago, Kavita had died in a car accident, and the daughter he had never really known had landed on his doorstep—–resentful, grieving, and silently, wilfully hostile.
Nannies, a necessity for him had come and gone and he now found himself between a rock and a hard place.
I’m sorry, I’m so sorry Siya didn’t mention details… Your poor, poor daughter… Tears of sympathy were gathering in the corner of Ragini eyes and she blinked them away. I’m not surprised she’s finding it difficult to settle down.
Taken aback by such an emotional response, Sanskar reached into a drawer in his desk and pulled out a box of tissues, which he handed to her.
So whilst you’re not my idea of the ideal candidate… He carried on over the subsiding threat of her tears.
I guess you’re worried because I’ve had so many jobs over the years… Ragini was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. He might be harsh and forbidding, but he was in a difficult position and no doubt justifiably anxious that he take on someone who wouldn’t let him down.
Correct Sara would not benefit from someone who decides to stick around for a few days and then walks out because she’s bored. Even though there have been a lot of nannies, they have all endeavoured to give in their best shot. Are you capable of that?
Yes, Yes, I am. She looked at him. Despite the unforgiving nature of his expression a little voice whispered, he really was very good-looking—-beautiful, almost Suddenly hot and bothered, she looked away, twisting the tissue between her fingers.
I beg your pardon?
I may not be in position to pick and choose, Miss Ragini, but I would still like you to persuade me that I am not about to make a mistake with you. Your sister may well sing your praises, and I trust Siya, but… He shrugged and relaxed back. Persuade me…
I wouldn’t leave anyone in the step back. I really wouldn’t, Mr Maheswari. She leaned forward, her face flushed and sincere. I know you think that I’m probably not very good at sticking to anything. Well, actually she confessed my family would all probably agree with you. But I’ve actually been indispensable in many of my past jobs. I’ve never let anyone down—-not really. No not at all, come to think of it. Even when I quit the receptionist’s job at Kapoor and Son, Mike was there to take over. To be honest, I think they were all a little relieved when I decided to leave. I was forever transferring people to the wrong department.
Let’s try and stick to the theme.
Yes Well what I’m trying to say is that you can trust me with your daughter. I won’t let you down.
Even though you have no experience in the field and might get bored with the company of a ten-year-old child?
I don’t think kids are boring! Do you?
Sanskar flushed darkly. Was he bored in Sara’s company? He had precious little experience in that area to provide a qualified answer. His relationship with his daughter was fraught at best. They conversed intermitently, and across a seemingly unreachable chasm. She was sulky and uncommunicative, and he knew that he was not a feelings person.
Sanskar dismissed that brief moment of intense intro spection.
So how would you plan on looking after her? He pushed the conversation forward and focused on her.
She had a fascinatingly transparent face. Right now, giving his question some thought, she was lost in a slight frown, her lips parted, her brown eyes distant. Ragini Gadodiya wasn’t the sort of woman he had been expecting. Siya was tall, brisk, efficient, and permanently attired in a suit. The girl sitting opposite him was a living, breathing testimony to the power of misconception. She looked as though she had never been any where near a suit and her hair…
No fashionably tailored bob, but really really long. Several times he had been tempted to angle himself so that he could see just how long for himself.
Well I guess there are the usual sights. Museums, art galleries. And then there’s the cinema, the zoo I love Central Park. We could go there. I’m sure she’ll be missing the familiarity of her home and all her friends, so I’ll make sure to keep her busy and occupied.
And then there’s the matter of schoolwork.
Ragini blinked and looked at him in confusion. What schoolwork? she asked perplexed. It’s the holidays.
Sara’s education was severely disrupted because of Kavita’s death, as you can imagine. More so when she came to Kolkata. There seemed little point in registering her for a school here, which she wouldn’t be attending on a permanent basis, and the tutors I employed for her came and went as regularly as the tutors I employed for her came and went as regularly as the nannies. Consequently there are gaps in her learning which will have to be addressed before she sits exams at the beginning of September of her new school.
Okaayyy…. and where do I fit in?
Ragini continued to look at him blankly and he clicked his tongue with impatience. You’re going to have to take charge there.
Me? Ragini squeaked in consternation. I can’t become a tutor! You’ve seen my application form! You’ve made fun of my lack of qualifications!
The thought of trying to teach anything to someone else horrified her. She wasn’t academic. She became nervous just thinking about textbooks. The youngest of three girls, she had grown up in the shadow of her clever sisters, and from an early age had dealt with the problem by simply opting out. No one could accuse her of being thick if she simply refused to compete, could they? And she had known that there was no way that she could ever have competed with either Siya or Piya. How on earth could he expect her to suddenly become a tutor?
I’m sorry to have wasted your time, Mr Maheswari, she said, standing up abruptly. If teaching is part of the job then I’m going to have turn down the position. I…I can’t Siya and Piya are the brainy ones. I’m not. I’ve never been to university. I never even wanted to go. I did a foundation course in Art when I was sixteen, and that’s the extent of my qualifications. You need someone else.
Sanskar looked at her narrowly and allowed her to ramble on. Then very calmly held her to sit.
I’m getting the picture about your academic qualifications or lack of them. You hated school.
I didn’t hate school. Having not wanted the job to start with, Ragini now realised that she did. His daughter’s plight had touched her. The thought of her being so young, and dependent on a father who was obviously a workaholic, tugged at her heartstrings. For the first time she really wanted to get involved. I’m just not good when it comes to textbooks.
I have no time for people who wave a white flag and concede defeat before they’ve even given something a fair chance, Sanskar said bracingly. I am not asking you to teach to degree level. I’m asking you to tutor Sara in some of the basis—-maths, english, sciences. If you want to persuade me that you’re interested in taking on this job then you’re going about it the wrong way.
I’m just being honest! If…if you don’t want to employ more tutors for your daughter, then why don’t you help her with her schoolwork? She faltered. You run a business so you must be qualified…or maybe you don’t need maths and English in what you do…? Some children don’t cope well with home-tutoring. perhaps your daughter is one of those…
Sara could cope very well with home-tutoring. Sanskar said shortly, is she was prepared to put effort into it. But she’s not. She might benefit more from teaching in a less structured manner. And no there is no way that u can help out. I barely have time to sleep. I leave this apartment at seven-thirty in the morning, which is an hour later than I used to before Sara arrived, and i try and make it back by eight in the evening when I’m not away. Which is a push at the best of times.
Ragini was distracted sufficiently from her own agonising to shoot him a look of frank horror. You work from seven-thirty in the morning to eight at night? Every day?
I cut myself some slack on the weekends. Sanskar shrugged. He could think of no one who would find anything out of the ordinary about those working hours. The high-fliers in his company—and there were a lot of them—-routinely had punishing schedules and thought nothing of it. They were paid fabulous sums of money and quid pro quo, after all.
What does that mean?
Where are you going with this? Sanskar asked irritably. You’re straying from the topic.
I’m sorry Ragini breathed. I just feel so sorry for you.
Come again? Sanskar could hardly credit what he was hearing. If they haven’t been discussing something so important he would have laughed. Never but never had anyone felt sorry for him. Quite opposite. Being born into a legacy of wealth power and influence had opened a thousand doors. Without siblings the task of taking hold of the family fortunes had fallen onto his shoulders and not only had he looked after the billions but he had gone several steps further and dramatically increased their worth. He had diversified and invested in areas his father would never have dreamed of and in so doing had attained a position of impenetrable power. He was virtually untouchable. The economic and financial crises that had seen off so many of his rivals had skirted harmlessly around him. It was a situation he had engineered and one he enjoyed.
I can’t think of anything more horrible than being slave to a job, but you’re right. I’m getting off the subject. I was just wondering why you didn’t cover the schoolwork with Sara yourself if you think that the home-tutoring doesn’t work, but i can see that you don’t have the time.
Was it his imagination or was there a hint of gentle criticism there?
Good I’m glad we agree.
Would you mind me asking you something? Ragini ventured clearing her throat. When he tilted his head to one side she said, tentatively. When do you have time for your daughter if you work such long hours?
Sanskar stared at her in disbelief. The directness of the question put him soundly on the back foot–as did the fact that he was seldom in a position of having to field direct questions of a personal nature. Women just didn’t go there. But she was waiting for an answer.
I fail to see what this has to do with the job, he said stiffly.
Oh, but it has lots to do with the job! I mean, I’m sure you have special times set aside, and i would want to know that so that i didn’t intrude. I just don’t see where those special times would fit in if you’re working from seven-thirty to eight every day and only taking a bit of time off over the weekends.
I don’t have a structure for the time i spend with Sara. His voice was cold and uninviting. We very often go to the Badi so that she can see her grand-parents on the weekend.
That’s lovely Ragini was unconvinced.
And now that we’ve covered that let’s move on to your hours. He tapped his pen absently on the desk, beating a staccato rhythm that made her feel as though she was being cross-examined rather than interviewed. I’ll expect you to be here every morning no later than seven-thirty.
Does that pose a problem?
Torn between the truth and tact, Ragini remained silent until he prompted with raised eyebrows, I’m taking that as a no. It’s requirement of the job. I could occasionally request one of my housekeepers to cover for you in an emergency but I would hope that the occasion doesn’t arise.
Ragini had always been punctual at all her jobs—-the very many she had over the years—-but it had to be said that none of them had required her to wake up at the crack down. She wasn’t an early-morning person. Somehow she knew that was a concept he would never be able to understand. She wondered whether he ever slept.
Do all your employees work long hours? she asked faintly ans for some reason Sanskar had the strongest inclination to burst out laughing. Her appalled look said it all.
They don’t get paid the earth to clock-watch, he said seriously. Are you telling me that you’ve never worked overtime in your life before?
I’ve never had to Ragini told him earnestly, But then again. I’ve never paid the earth for anything I’ve done. Not that I mind. I’ve never been that interested in money.
Sanskar was intrigued against his will. Was this woman from the same planet as he was? He should stick to the programme, but he found himself strangely willing to digress.
Really? he said with scepticism. In that case i applaud you. Your’e one of a kind.
Ragini wondered whether he was being sarcastic but them looking around her at the luxurious surrondings of his penthouse where the old sat comfortably with the new and every hanging on the walls and rug strewn on the floor screamed wealth she realised that he would be genuinely mystified at her indifference to money.
It had very quickly struck her the second she had walked through the front door of his apartment that Sanskar Maheswari was a man who moved in circles so far removed from her own that they barely occupied the same stratosphere. The people he mixed with would share the same exalted lifestyle and it was a lifestyle that could not be achieved without an unswerving dedication to the art of making money.
But Ragini had been telling the absolute the truth when she had told him that money didn’t interest her. If it had she might have been a little more driven when it came to a career.
To be Continued……
Thank You Friends For Supporting Me Guys I Want To Dedicate This FF For My Friends Thanks Sindhu Sister, Ragz Teju, Jazzy, Malika, Spp, Lovely, Akshata, Tani, Suhani, Asra, Pooja, Fairy, Sreevijayan, And My Silent Readers Thanks For Supporting Me. And My Lil Sissy (Deeshu Chellam) Thank You For Your Support Dear Friend And Advance Happy Pongal And Advance Magara Sankranthi To All My Friends And Silent Readers.
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