#02. Denied leave
Nora bounced out of her reverie at the sound of her name.
— Nora beta. Please clean the counter, will you. A gentle Santoshi squeaked over her metallic shoulders. I have to unpack the next sequence so please do it quickly.
— Yes ma’am. Nora moved to the counter, evading her gaze.
Whenever Nora wanted to ask for a favour, she would address Santoshi as ‘Ma’am’; a fact that both were aware of. She fumbled the gel bottles, trying to pick all of them at once. While Santoshi a feet away from her face, tried hard to ignore the clumsiness and Nora was trying hard to avoid the green flickering gaze from behind the tanned vizor.
In all this though, the lady sitting on the high chair, getting her moustache tasered opened her eyes just a little bit as Nora made her way to the mirrored cabinets at the back of the room.
— Why are you packing them in the cupboard?
A stern voice shot through her ears and jolted her once again; some bottles dropped, reverberating plastic sounds disturbed the slow humming air conditioner.
— What do you mean? Nora protested meekly, avoiding all eye contact.
— Them are empty, Nora! Why are you arranging them in the cupboard? There was a hint of anger now in Santoshi’s voice.
— Yes, but throwing them in the garbage means they land up in the Yamuna, so I was thinking I will go and give them to the garbage collectors on Sunday and they can earn some money by recycling and reusing them. Nora said this in a very oh-this-is-common-sense-kind-of-way even though she was scared shitless.
The lady on the chair opened her left eye, and first, muscled it hard against her nose bridge to register Santoshi’s reactions. And then smoothly parked it on the mirror, focusing on Nora.
— What a smart girl. She exclaimed, and unexpectedly added. You should come around to the house baccha, Shreya, my daughter also has similar ideas. She would love to be friends with you.
Nora ignored the request. Still rearranging the plastic bottles in silence. But Santoshi’s wiring did not support the above presented logic. Her anger melted into irritation.
— Nora! What do you want? She asked, feigning calm. I have told you not to act like this when we have customers. Why are you sulking?
— I need a leave on Sunday! The young girl shot back.
— You CANNOT! Sunday is the busiest day of the week.