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Untamed By Time

It was around 9 O'clock on a very important day for our company. For, we had to make an important presentation to a visiting Japanese delegation on the progress we made on the project they had assigned to us. I made a phone call to Prasad, the Creative Director of our company. "Hello Prasad, Varma here. How's is the presentation?" "Sir, good morning, it will be ready by the time the delegation comes.."

"Damn it! Prasad you should've been ready with the presentation by now," I said in shrill voice while ending a mobile phone conversation as I stepped out of my car which was parked in front of my office building, "our clients expect us to inform them of the progress we've made on their project so far." As I was proceeding towards the office building, I saw a boy of about 10 years in age standing before the office entrance. He wore a torn t-shirt and seemed to be anxious to say something to me.

"Hey, you! Want to say something?" "Sir, shoe polish," said the boy as he pointed towards his routine tools - a box of shoe polish, a piece of cloth, a shiner and a stand for the prospective clients to put their legs on it while they are being served. Although I was annoyed with my Creative Director Prasad for his negligent and lazy attitude, I realised that in the midst of the hectic office functions, meetings and lengthy deliberations I hardly managed to find time to polish my shoes since number of days.

"Bring your stuff here," I said. The boy entered inside the office compound with his equipment. I simply placed my foot on the stand and as if that this was an order from my side, the boy polished my shoe. I could witness my shoes' instant transition of my shoe from an apparently worn out condition to a sparkling black pair of shoes. "Take this," I said as I gave a two rupee coin to the boy. "Sir, five rupees," the boy demanded. I casually placed my hand in my coat. Unfortunately, I was holding only a bunch of five hundred rupee notes in my purse. "Boy, keep this two rupees for now." "Sir, I want five rupees." "Listen, whatever may be your name," I said in an agitated tone "if you don't take this coin and get lost from the office premises within next two minutes, you will be thrown out by the security. So take this coin and go."

"My name is Ballu," said the boy "and, if you cannot afford five rupees, then it is better that you keep it for yourself."
Saying this, Ballu placed the two rupee coin in my right hand and hurriedly rushed out of the gate.
"What an arrogant boy!" I said this to myself in complete amazement. Just then Prasad rushed towards me and said "Mr. Varma, the presentation is ready and I can explain it before our clients, if you permit me." "Are you sure? Some ten minutes back you were saying the presentation is still being prepared?" "Mr. Varma, I prepared it the last evening itself. But the problem was that I accidentally deleted the entire folder and I ." "Oh! You and your excuses, Prasad," I interrupted him, "your real test now lies in presenting the progress we've made on the project. I can see the Japanese delegation approaching. Let's go and meet them."

Prasad began the presentation with the Japanese salutation and I must admit that I was completely surprised by the manner in which he encapsulated all the finer points of the progress of our project, evaded giving hint of the insurmountable hurdles we experienced so far and responded to each query satisfactorily. "Namaste and Dhanyavaad," said Mr. Tomichi, the head of the visiting Japanese team, "I have no doubt in my mind that we made the right decision when we decided to do business with your Chairman - Mr. Varma."

"The pleasure is all ours," I said with a widely elated face. At the end, the Japanese delegation endorsed our work and the progress till date. They even initiated discussion on the possibility of handing over two of their upcoming projects in India to our organization.

"I never knew that you're the kind of man who always has an ace up his sleeve," I remarked encouragingly as I was leaving the office premises with Prasad and two of my other employees. "Sir, I just tried presenting everything through PowerPoint Presentation and that was . it..," said Prasad blushingly. "More implicit than PowerPoint Presentation was your personal talent, tactful approach, unambiguous communication, cheerful face and ." I was trying to use some more adjectives in the praise of Prasad - contradictory to my own approach in the morning. At that very moment my chauffer intervened abruptly to inform that my car is ready.

"Good night, gentlemen! See you tomorrow," I said as I opened the door of my car, kept my coat inside and soon closed the door after sitting in the back seat. As the car moved a few paces ahead from the office premises, I could see the shoe-polish boy Ballu running towards the car. "Stop," I instructed the chauffer while I was unpacking the memento the Japanese delegation had offered me. As the car stopped, I thoughtlessly reinstructed "Hurry up! We're getting late." The car moved with tremendous speed and soon Ballu was out of sight.

The following day was supposed to be quiescent and drab like most days in the office where we neither have to clinch a deal nor convince our clients about the progress of our projects; instead most of our staff was just supposed to stick to a sort of daily timetable - reporting on a particular time and signing out with the sunset. And it was not compulsory for me as the boss to specifically oversee the progress of the routine work. Yet the charm of directly or indirectly supervising employees is in itself a tremendous motivating force which compels me to go to my office day after day, week after week and month after month - with no leaves, zero late-coming round the year and the daily working hours overstretching and overspreading into the night.

As I stepped out of my car I again saw Ballu, the shoe-polish boy at the entrance. I silently gave a ten rupee note to the chauffer and asked him to give it to Ballu. "Sir, the 'shoe-polish' boy has refused to take this note. Instead, he wants to talk to you," said the chauffer. I thought for a while as to why this boy refused to take a ten rupee when he was asking just five rupees for polishing my shoe yesterday. Then I said to the chauffer: "I've no time to spare for this fellow. You can have a cup of tea with this money." "Salam, Saab," said my chauffer thankfully.

I entered my office and was soon flanked by my employees who sprang on their feet to stand on each side of my way till my room just to say: "Good Morning!" I lifted my hands in the two different directions and reciprocated the welcoming gestures of the employees by waving my hands in the air with a cheerful smile.

I entered my room and gave a ring to my personal assistant Sheela through the office extension: "Please come to my room immediately." Sheela was a young and efficient girl in her twenties. She was beautiful and at the same time good in grasping the crux of her tasks and acting accordingly. "Sir, this is the project completion report of Sharma & Sharma Company." Sheela submitted the report on my desk "What about our overall internal quarterly progress reports?" "I'll get them in a moment," Sheela said and she immediately rushed out of the room. Within next two minutes, there was a knock at the door.

"Come in, Sheela," I said. To my utter surprise, it was Ballu, the boy who polished my shoe yesterday. "You? What the hell are you doing here?" I said in a very angry tone. The boy stood silently for a few seconds. He searched his pocket and forwarded a purse full of five hundred rupee currency notes. I recollected that these were the same bunch of notes I was carrying with me yesterday. Besides money, it also contained a small photograph of my mother, my ATM Card and Car Driving License. "Where did you come across my purse?" I enquired in a polite tone. "It fell from your pocket while you were entering the car yesterday. I ran after the car but it moved speedily and soon disappeared from the place," said Ballu.

I started counting the notes. There were 20 five-hundred rupee notes - Rupees ten thousand. That was exact cash I was carrying with me yesterday. I was amazed at the honesty of this boy. "Ballu, take this 500 Rupees note as a reward for your honesty," I said. "No sir! I can't accept it," Ballu said. "Why not?" "Because it is your hard earned money. But please pay me my full remuneration when you come for shoe-polish next time." I searched my pocket for small change. Fortunately, I came across a five rupee coin. "Please take it, Ballu," I said while standing from my seat "I'm sorry for not paying you yesterday itself." "Thank you." "Wait. Ballu. Do you have any elderly person such as your father, brother . I am mean anyone who is not employed?"

"My father drives a rickshaw. My sister is a bar dancer. My mother is suffering from cancer and has been hospitalised. My other brothers work from morning till evening doing petty jobs." "Why don't you send one of your brothers to our office for a job.?" "Thank for the offer. But we're fine the way we're. Namaste." Ballu said this with both hands folded and left the room abruptly.I realised the common folly of corporate persons like me who believe in capitalising on every available opportunity compared to the naturally straightforward, hardworking and self-respecting people of our country who treat every day happenings as part of the monotonous occurrences of their mundane life right from a tender age. It is a real pity to experience our helplessness in alleviating their sufferings!

Contributing Story Teller Syed Muzammiluddin is a long time online content writer and a dedicated Wikipedian.

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