Mr. K examined himself carefully in the mirror taking in his freshly cut hair,clean shaved face and his crisp new striped shirt. He adjusted the knot of his tie tighter than comfort required. Then he splashed a generous palm-full of aftershave on his face and as an after thought some under his armpits, wiping his still damp hand on his shirt front he reached for the comb and ran it through his graying hair glazed with perfumed coconut oil. Taking a last look at himself, he fondly ran his fingers down the two creases which flowed down his cheeks like tiny rivulets. He thought they imparted an importance and maturity to his face.
Today was the final interview. He had successfully crossed the earlier two, and the big boss was coming all the way from Delhi to interview the finalists himself.
As far as Mr. K could see, there was only one problem. And that was the rain, but he had made his plans to take care of such an eventuality.
He would take an autorikshaw all the way to the bus-stop and take a bus up to Flora Fountain, from where it was only a stones throw to the office. That way he could avoid getting his clothes crushed in the morning rush on the train and his highly polished shoes trampled all over. He also reminded himself to close the bus window because of the fine spray of mud that was continuously churned by the moving wheels of the bus.
Just as his bus came it began to rain. Gratefully scrambling in, he grabbed a window seat and smugly watched the wretched crowds as they unfurled their umbrellas and scurried for shelter. He enjoyed seeing unwary pedestrians getting drenched as the bus raced over water filled pot holes.
Mr. K wished to avoid going to sleep on this long journey, because he knew it would take the freshness from his face and might create a wrong impression, especially at this stage, where everything was so delicately poised.
But journey was long and the soft drumbeat of the rain and the cozy warmth of the interior of the bus soon lulled him to sleep, in spite of his vigilance.
Waking up fitfully from his sleep, he looked out of the bus window uncomprehendingly for a moment. Then seeing that it was almost at his stop he quickly got up and dashed out, cursing himself for having slept.
Pulling out his handkerchief he wiped his face trying to remove it’s sleepy expression. He was particular around his eyes which he knew would be groggy and red.
Suddenly he noticed that a bus was bearing down on him and he was about to be splashed. Making a hasty but clumsy leap, he just managed not to get drenched, though a spray of tea colored water did cover the bottom of his trousers and flooded his shoes. While taking the leap his folder released all his neatly typed papers.
He hastily picked these now damp sheets and hurried in the direction of the office. Checking the time on his wrist watch he saw that it is almost time for the interview.
Reaching the building he stopped to survey the damage. His white trousers had brown designs from the knee downwards, which wiping with the handkerchief could not repair. His shoes had lost their gloss and looked soaked through. He looked up at the sky grateful that it was only drizzling lightly, when he noticed the crow. It gave him one malignant look and dropped it’s load right on top of Mr. K’s head. Mr. K paralyzed, watched helplessly as it landed bang center. Mr. K shook his fist angrily at the horrid bird, who flew away unconcerned.
Mr. K as though in a bad dream could not believe his bad luck. He had looked so confident in the mirror this morning, and here a short while later everything was falling to pieces. He rubbed furiously at the bird droppings, but only managed to spread it further. There was nothing more to be done but go in. He was five minutes late already.
He walked into the well lit lobby feeling like a refugee, and noticed that people were giving him queer looks.
Timidly he approached the receptionist.
“I’m here for the interview with Mr. Kulkarni.”
“I’m afraid it is not possible, he’s been held up by heavy rains in Delhi. He has faxed a message postponing the interview to the 15th.”
Mr. K almost fell down on his knees in sheer gratitude!