The black Sedan inched its way slowly through the traffic. A young man in a black dapper two-piece suit sat in the rear seat, fiddling about with some buttons on his eight-inch touchpad. Another man, slightly older, was at the wheel, sweating away, despite the lowest possible temperature of the aircon. He wore a brownish white shirt and similar hued pants, which looked as if they were worn everyday without being washed. The driver applied the brakes suddenly as the car in front of him jerked to an abrupt halt. A second man, barely a man but a boy, younger than both the men in the car but as shabbily dressed as the driver, sat in the passenger seat beside the driver’s, both timid and pleased, trying to gauge the situation but mostly keeping to himself.
“S**t!”, exclaimed the smartly dressed man in black at the back. “S**t! I will be late again! This place will never improve!”
The traffic moved painfully slow, increasing the man’s impatience and making him swear. The driver tried to make a left cut into the service lane. But that happened to be a bad idea. The lane was narrow and many other drivers had had similar thoughts, hence cramming their vehicles into the congested lane. There looked to be no way out. Except for moving in first gear. The driver moved on, the owner providing him a fillip via his invective. All of a sudden, a dog ran in front of the car, tottering and puttering about, unable to decide which side to move and then finally dashed to the left, thus making the driver swerve violently to the right and jerk to a stop. There was a sickening crunch and the owner looked up, livid. He finally extricated his eyes from his tablet, abandoned it for the time being and got out of the car, slamming the door. The car’s right front headlight had smashed into the pavement on the right. In a bid to save the dog, the driver had driven it straight into the pavement, stopping just in time before a huge dent could be inflicted on the door.
The man’s face grew red and he snatched the driver’s shirt collar, shaking him violently. He slapped him twice. Thrice. Hard. So that the red of his fingers marked their shape on his cheek while the other boy looked on, agitated. The onlookers now had a scene to behold and their frustration on the traffic sort of abated a little. The other guy in the car had got out by now and watched the owner manhandle his driver, punch him in the face and once in the ribs, all the while raining expletives on him.
The younger boy’s heart went out to the driver, feeling embarrassed at such an erosion of respect and loss of self-esteem. The driver’s face was expressionless, his head bowed while he bore the treatment inflicted by his employer on him. The other guy wondered if the amount would be deducted from his meagre salary. Perhaps it would. After the owner of the car had his fill of the other’s dignity, they set off and finally reached a large bungalow where he resided. The car had to be taken for repair. Before that, the servants proceeded to a nearby tea stall to shake off the episode. The younger man brought two cups of tea, offering one to the injured driver.
“Where are the biscuits?”, he demanded and the young servant went to get some biscuits. “Here”, he handed them to the driver, who began to sip his tea, one hot sip at a time. “Aaaak-thoooo!!”, the driver spat the tea out on the young servant, his shirt and a part of his chin bearing the brunt. “What kind of tea was this?”, he ordered and scolded his younger counterpart for a crappy tea.
The boy looked at him, astonished at the change in his behavior, indignant at the treatment he had received after his sympathy and feelings for him. When the older servant crumpled and threw the cup away, the boy’s feelings for him had evaporated. In its place, was born a lingering dislike, a feeling that the man had been given an apt deal by the employer. He went away, his faith shaken.