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Chapter - 22
Aman had been with ASR since the day ASR Fashion was found. Even though working for him was hell in the beginning, he later came to admire his boss for his dedication, determination, and focus. His attention to detail was something that amazed him. Even though he was hard to work for and even when some days were worse than the other, he came to enjoy his work with him. So, for the first time ever when ASR asked him to handle the fashion show without him being present there, he was very surprised. It was a big deal for Aman. ASR never ever did that. His boss is used to working on every detail himself and it was evident in his shows. He was the reason his fashion shows were unique, unforgettable, and attracted such huge crowds. So, Yes! He worked hard to please his boss and prove his worth when the opportunity was presented.
Now when everything was finally over yesterday and when he was about to get his much-awaited well-deserved rest today, Why? Why is this happening to him? He is well accustomed to his bosses' anger temperaments, but if he had to make a list of the worst days, today will definitely top the list. When he saw ASR calling him early this morning, for some unknown reason for a second he thought it was to applaud him for handling the show well. But he should have known better. It is ‘The ASR’ he is working for. Compliments are like those precious drops of water you find in deserts. Maybe finding water in the desert is much easier than pleasing him. He let out a heavy sigh. “If only I had not picked that call”, a random thought crossed his mind. “No, I wouldn’t ever dare to.”, he told himself brushing away the thought. Just thinking about that very short phone call gave him goosebumps. “Fly to Lucknow, Right NOW?”, his boss roared and the line went dead. So here he is, in the Lucknow office working more than ever as his boss is on a spree to overwork himself. He is unable to understand ASR these days. Till a few days back he looked distracted at work and now this. “Aman!”, he heard his queue. Walking into Lion's den he wondered. “Yesterday evening when he last talked to me he sounded fine. What might have happened in one night that ASR has been going crazy with madness since the morning?”
“Aman, check with US clients to see if they can have the meeting today. And arrange a meeting with the designers and tell them I need new designs on my table right now. Also, call for a press conference today. We will talk about our show’s success and the collection. Did you arrange ….”
As ASR went on and on with his orders, Aman’s hands mechanically wrote down all the instructions, while his head wandered off thinking of the person responsible for his current plight. “Who are you and what did you do for ASR to get not angry or mad but crazy?” Then again he couldn’t help but feel sorry for that person. “Hope you are still alive after whatever it is that you did.” Because knowing his boss he would have killed that person just by his gaze.
“Aman! Are you listening?”, ASR roared.
“Yes sir. It might be difficult to arrange a meeting with US clients at such short notice. And anyway we already have a meeting scheduled with them in two days. So, I don't know how they would feel with the sudden change. I will work on all the other things. Also, calling a press conference suddenly may not be a good idea. We already have everything set up for next week. Now, if we suddenly cancel that and call now? I mean, we don’t want them on our bad side.”, the last part he almost whispered as he knew what was coming at him. But as a responsible employee, he has to speak up his opinion. Another thing he learned from ASR.
“I. Don’t. Care. I don’t care what they think or write about me. I don’t care what she thinks of me. It doesn’t matter to me. I. Don’t. Give. A. Damn! I am not here to please anyone. Those who know our value will come. And those who don’t, we don’t need them. And trust me, they wouldn’t dare go against me”, he snapped.
As Aman was leaving he said, “And don’t worry about US clients. I will talk to them.”
Once Aman left, ASR opened the file lying on his desk and flipped through a few pages before his mind began to indulge in the questions that were rampaging inside. “Why do I lose my composure around her? Why do I not like it when she is sad? Why do her tears bother me so much? Why do I forget everything else when she is around me? Why do her actions and words affect me? And why did I try to kiss her when she was unconscious? WHY? What is happening to me?” Even though he failed to find any answers, one thing became clear to him- it was getting really impossible for him to stay away from her. Banging the file on the desk he shouted, “Damn it! I don’t care. It doesn’t mean a thing. She doesn’t mean a thing”.
Aman who was still right outside the cabin jumped startled and let out another deep sigh as he murmured, “Today is going to be a looong day. God save us from his wrath.”
As ASR walked into the office from his lunch appointment he was on the verge of losing it. Aman who was following him right behind was shaking in fear. The meeting didn’t go well and his boss even though it is hard for him to accept was not in his game today.
Entering his cabin, ASR yelled, “Damn it!! How dare they? Aman, get me all the files related to them. How dare they try to twist our hands to agree to their terms? No one is going home till we get this deal signed today and on our terms. I will show them who they are up against.”
“Now this is the ASR I know”, Aman thought when saying, “Yes Sir. Right now you have a meeting with the designers in 10 minutes and immediately after that is the press conference. I will have our main office transfer all documents related to this client and have them ready for you by then.”
All the designers were already present by the time ASR entered the conference room. Almost 15 minutes into the meeting which was in full swing with him busy discussing the designs, giving inputs, and showering his wrath on those who failed to appease him was when he heard a subtle sound. Stopping midway and he asked annoyed, “What is that sound? Who is making it?”
Everyone first looked at each other confused and then turned to him blankly as they questioned, “Sorry Sir. But what sound?”
He paused for a moment to think before he nodded his head suggesting it was nothing and continued while brushing it off. But a few minutes later he heard it again. A very subtle jingling sound that lasted for a fraction of a second. He took a quick look at everyone and again no one seemed to have heard it. Confused as to whether he was really hearing it or imagining it, he absentmindedly reached out to grab some designs that were lying on the table when few papers slipped through his hand. Composing himself he continued to talk as he leaned down to pick the papers and froze instantly mid-sentence unable to believe his eyes. He was not sure anymore if his eyes were playing tricks with him or if the scene in front of him was really real. Right there in the conference room, under the table, right next to his chair, sitting in a crouched position was ‘Khushi’.
An involuntary “What the?”, escaped Arnav’s lips.
Khushi was preoccupied with the task of trying to not move a muscle in order to prevent her bangles from making any more sound when she saw the papers falling down. Before she could contemplate her next action, her caramel eyes met his chocolate browns. As he let out a ‘What the?’ making her open her eyes wide and mouth agape only to shut them both tightly the next instant.
Arnav, stupefied, just kept staring at her, unable to believe what he was seeing.
His employees who were oblivious to everything happening just kept staring at their boss who was still bent anchored in his position like a statue. After pondering as to what to say or do, finally, one of them gathered courage as he was worried for his boss and said very gently, “Sir?”
…….. No response…
Even more worried he said a bit louder this time, “Sir!? Are you ok?”
Arnav suddenly snapped out of his thoughts and looked at him, still a little dazed. Composing himself quickly he replied, “Yes!”
Taking a quick peek in the direction she was hiding he said hurriedly, “We will end our today’s meeting here. You may go.”
Not sure of what they heard, they all exchanged glances confused. “We just started the meeting. Did someone do something wrong?” was the only question in all their minds.
“I said you may go. Now!”, he said curtly. And everyone immediately stood up and rushed out of the conference room.
Once he made sure everyone left, Arnav kneeled down right away and looked at the tiny bundle that was still there with her eyes tightly closed and lips mumbling, “Hey, Devi Maiya! Hey, Devi Maiya! Hey, Devi Maiya!...” repeatedly.
Still not completely out of his amazement, he whispered totally awestruck, “Khushi!”
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