1.  EXT. A BUSY ALLEY IN KOLKATA - MORNING

A one-story brick house in a run-down neighbourhood. Children in government school uniforms carrying book bags walk in the alley. A man pushes an empty vendor cart. A woman squabbles with a vegetable peddler. Another woman washes clothes underneath a hand pump. A long queue of women holding pails wait to get water from the tap. Stray dogs bark and roam the alley.

CUT TO:

2. INT. LIVING ROOM AREA - MORNING

Fifty-year old Rani stands in front of her late husband’s framed photo hanging on the wall. She drapes a flower garland around the photo.

3.  INT. BEDROOM - MORNING

Simple cotton salwar kameez sets are neatly folded on a clothing horse. A bed covered with a simple sheet and two pillows. A folded mosquito net hangs from a wall. In front of an old mirror and dressing table, twenty-one year old Neha Gupta (wearing a salwar kameez) combs her hair.

4. INT. LIVING ROOM AREA - MORNING

Rani, still standing in front of the photo, dots her husband’s forehead with sandalwood paste.

5. INT. BEDROOM - MORNING

Still standing in front of the mirror, Neha smears lip balm on her lips and sticks a bindi on her forehead.

6. INT. LIVING ROOM AREA - MORNING

Rani circles burning incense sticks in front of the photo.

7.  INT. BEDROOM - MORNING

Neha picks up a folder lying on the dressing table, grabs her purse, shoves the folder inside it and opens the bedroom door.

8.  INT. LIVING ROOM AREA - MORNING

In the glass reflection of the photo, we see Rani’s face and then Neha’s face too, comes into view. In the reflection we see Neha press her palms together and bow her head. Rani turns to face Neha. She touches a flower to Neha’s forehead and chest. Neha in turn touches her mother’s feet. When she stands up, there are tears in her eyes.

9.  INT. KITCHEN - MORNING

Rani sits at a small dining table, slowly stirring her bowl of puffed rice, milk and bananas with a spoon. Preteek, Neha’s twelve-year-old brother, comes running to the table wearing his government school uniform. He sits down and quickly eats his breakfast. NEHA sits down at the table and picks up her spoon.

Neha: If I get this job, will you accompany me daily?

Prateek and Rani exchange looks. Prateek becomes quiet and looks at his mother for an explanation but Rani purses her lips and looks away.

10.  INT. PUBLIC BUS - DAY

In a crowded bus, Neha stands with other passengers as many male passengers stare at her. She grimaces when the hand of a male passenger deliberately touches her lower back.

Bus Conductor: (slaps side of bus) Esplanade! Esplanade!

Neha and other passengers get off the bus.

11.  EXT. HIGH-RISE OFFICE BUILDING - DAY

A thirty-year old muscular security officer stands guard at the building door. Neha walks up to the officer, takes a card out of her purse and shows it to him. The security officer looks Neha up and down, takes the card from her then when handing it back to her lingers his hand in her hand. Neha snatches her hand away.

Security officer: Elevator, third floor.

Neha scowls at him, then turns around and walks toward an elevator seen in the distance.

12.  INT. THE ELEVATOR - DAY

As Neha steps out of the elevator, she bumps into thirty-year old Devraj Roy. He is wearing an expensive suit and wristwatch, and looks annoyed. Neha looks worried as she looks left and right and so doesn’t notice Devraj’s annoyance at bumping into her. But when Devraj sees her face, his expression softens.

Devraj: Excuse me. I didn’t see...

Neha: (looks at her watch) Please, where’s the interview room for DJ Cosmetics?

Devraj: (clears his throat) Down the hallway, first door on your right.

Neha: Thank you.

Neha looks at him once before walking past him. Devraj glances at Neha with a mysterious smile, then walks into his office.

13.  INT. OFFICE – DAY

Devraj sits behind his desk flipping through a file, occasionally sipping coffee. Sitting opposite to him is twenty-five year old Shalini Sharma holding another file (she could be Devraj’s secretary) while talking on her smartphone (on the desk in speaker mode). Shalini looks worried.

Pradyut (from the phone): Baby, I don’t want you slaving away in a laboratory!

Shalini: But Mr. Goswami, I...

Pradyut: Call me Pradyut and try to understand Shalini. Let’s talk it over dinner tonight. Orchid Gardens, seven o’clock.

Pradyut ends the call as Shalini fidgets with her wedding ring.

14. INT. IN FRONT OF INTERVIEW ROOM - DAY

Neha stands in front of a closed office door marked DJ Cosmetics, Human Resource Manager. She takes out a flower (the same one from this morning) from her purse and touches it to her forehead and chest. She puts the flower back in her purse and takes a deep breath.

15. INT. INTERVIEW ROOM - DAY

Pradyut Goswami, a forty-five year old man, sits behind a desk typing on his laptop. Also on the desk is a clipboard, various coloured files, a briefcase and some pens. There are two empty chairs in front of the desk. We hear a knock on the door. Pradyut glances at his watch and straightens his jacket.

Pradyut: Come in!

The door opens. Neha walks inside and gives him a professional smile. Pradyut looks at his clipboard.

Pradyut: Neha Gupta?

Neha: Yes, Sir.

Pradyut: Close the door. Take a seat Ms. Gupta.

Neha closes the door and sits down. She takes out the folder from her purse, then takes out her resume and holds it out to him. Pradyut leans forward in his chair but does not look at or take the resume.

Pradyut: You really want to work in a lab?

Neha: Yes, I...

Pradyut: What does your father do?

Neha looks at the resume still in her hand.

Neha: He’s dead.

Pradyut looks at her sternly.

Neha: Sir, I have a degree in Chemistry.

Pradyut comes around to the front of the desk, sits down on the desk so that one foot is on the floor as the other foot dangles in mid-air.

Pradyut: You need more than a Chemistry degree.

He reaches out with his hand, tucks a loose strand of NEHA’s hair behind her ear and looks at her lips. Neha looks up astonished. Her heart beat accelerates. She clenches both her fists and in doing so she crumples her resume and drops it on the floor.

Pradyut: Do you understand what I’m saying?

Neha’s heart beats louder and faster.

Neha: You bastard!

Neha gets up from her chair. Pradyut jumps off the table, blocks her path, quickly takes hold of her chin with his thumb and forefinger then tilts her face upward so that their eyes are level. Neha’s eyes grow large, her face flushes anger and her nostrils flare. Pradyut sneers. Neha grabs his wrist with her hands. Suddenly, the door opens and Devraj bursts inside.

Devraj: Pradyut! What are you doing?

Immediately Pradyut releases Neha’s chin, his expression abruptly changes from smug to guilty. Neha breathes a sigh of relief.

Pradyut: Sir, I...

Devraj quickly takes his smartphone out of his pocket and taps the screen.

Devraj: I’m in Room 305. Please come immediately!

Shalini Sharma enters the room. Pradyut stares at her in shock.

Pradyut: They...these women, they set me up!

Devraj: They don’t know each other. Shalini was in my office during the phone conversation...on

speaker.

Pradyut’s mouth gapes open and he becomes still as a statue. Devraj gives him a stern look.

Devraj: Pradyut Goswami, DJ Cosmetics will no longer be needing your services.

Pradyut swallows, looks down at his feet, slowly walks to the desk and picks up his briefcase. Neha is speechless, staring once at Devraj and then at Shalini. Devraj sits down in the chair behind the desk. The same muscular security officer enters the interview room.

Devraj: (looks at the security officer) What took you so long?

Security Officer: Sorry, Sir.

Devraj: Call the police. Tell them I want to file a sexual harassment case. Goswami, get a lawyer.

Neha shoots a hard look at the security officer who looks guilty and swallows. Pradyut turns around, his eyes pleading and palms pressed together.

Pradyut: Please Sir, no court! My wife will know! Everyone will know!

Neha: (loud and strong) Court cases aren’t cheap and neither are we. Everyone should

know.

The security officer leads Pradyut away. Neha begins walking towards the door. Shalini turns to leave.

Devraj: Ms Sharma, please have a seat. Ms Gupta, please give me your resume.

Shalini sits down in a chair. Neha picks up her crumpled resume from the floor, smoothens it out and hands it to Devraj.

 

About Author

Sarbani Das

Member Since: 01 Nov, 2016

I love writing and reading stories...and so I invite you to enjoy my stories with a cup of tea or coffee and your favorite munchie! ...

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