Namrata finished with the final chore of her evening. From the looks of it, the party was a smashing success. She was tired to the bone. Her feet were aching being in the stilettoes for a long time. When the guests had dispersed and she had signed the final clearance voucher, it was 1AM. Fortunately the party was during the midweek and the guests had to go back to work next day… otherwise they would still be there.
James handed her a mock tail which she sipped slowly… resting her butt on a barstool. It relieved her aches a bit. But she was aching for someone else… She was excited at the prospect of seeing him again. After the episode in the storeroom she was walking on eggshells throughout the evening. If James observed anything he didn’t speak. She could feel his eyes on her ever since she had come out of the powder room… did he suspect anything? She knew she could never lie to save her life. But was she so transparent? James was a good friend and he never asked her questions or commented on her simple attire in office. He kind of looked out for her. He was already working for ‘for you forever’ when she had joined the company as an intern last year. He supported her whenever she was ragged during her early days in the company. She felt guilty about hiding anything from him…
“So Namrata… good work… Smriti ma’am will be thrilled. Looks like this one’s going to be a permanent client. Overheard good reviews on the arrangements around. Congratulations. You deserve it.” James sat on the barstool beside hers.
Namrata felt contented and touched her ear studs. It looked like she could keep them for herself, after all. She was thrilled from within. This event had the potential to boost up in her career, she thought. Though she wasn’t completely focussed today after her clandestine meeting… she managed to do a good job. She was now waiting to rush upstairs…
James offered to drop her home. She refused saying she had some more time there. He raised an eyebrow and smiled. She looked away not wanting to give away her emotions. Besides she didn’t have the patience.
She walked back to the lobby to a locker to collect her bag, when an orderly came and gave her a cover. “Ma’am, these were instructed to be given to you whenever you came to the locker to collect your things.”
Namrata was surprised and nodded to him. She took the sealed cover. There was no writing but a sketch of a beautiful sparrow drawn on it. Her insides stated to flutter. She tore it open. There was a key and a letter.
My little sparrow,
. Am working today. Phone calls will be on… just open the door and walk-in whenever you are done…
Be waiting for you…
-Your Giant Eagle
Namrata took the stairs to calm her erratic heart as she rushed to meet him.
She stood outside his suite and tried to hear any noises… but there was only silence. She used the key to open the door. The room was mildly lit. She saw him standing at the balcony looking outside with hands in his pockets. He had changed into his track pants and t shirt. He turned as he heard her at the door. As he walked towards her, she saw his face. He looked much worn out. Though he smiled, there was some different emotion in his eyes this time. He sighed as he looked at her.
“Did my little sparrow have her dinner?” He asked
“Um… I… no… I wasn’t hungry.” Actually she had forgotten to eat dinner in the anticipation of meeting him. Now her stomach was rumbling.
He gave a small laugh and called the kitchen and ordered a sandwich for her. He made her freshen up and change into the hotel robe. Her sandwich had arrived. It was past 2AM but she ate while he worked up on his laptop. She was dead on her feet as she walked towards him. He was distracted… She reached his chair and hugged him from behind…
He shut his laptop and released her hands. He stood up and holding her hands, took her to the bed.
She was asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow.
Namrata woke up to someone speaking loudly. She was still in her robe alone on the bed. The covers were smooth indicating he hadn’t slept in. She checked the time. It was 4AM. She had to rush home. Her mother would be awake by 6AM. Thinking about her schedule, she walked to the source of the sound which had woken her up. It was coming from the small study room attached to the bedroom. She tiptoed her way towards the room.
“…What the hell Viraj…” she heard him scold someone over the phone. “… I assign one task to you and you can’t even do that?” He paused probably because someone must have spoken on the other end. He started pacing and spoke, “I don’t care Viraj. I need the figures as I have mentioned. The quotation has to be what I have planned. It can’t change. Not a penny more…..” he paused again. “… no… absolutely a big NO. I will not tolerate anything more than 10.3…”
Pause again. “10.5 will not do. It has to be 10.3. It will cover profit margins as well…” Pause “…I know I am a trader… but I can’t trade what you are suggesting for our profits…” Pause.
He rubbed his hand over his face and sighed into the phone. “Look Viraj, this is big. A lot is at stake. We can’t afford to lose it. Tender opens on Monday. Today is the last day to fill the quotation. This Monday should be the best Monday of our lives.” He turned as he said it and saw her.
Namrata was clueless as to what he was talking about but the way he was conducting business suited his nick name. He actually looked like an eagle on prowl.
He cut the call and walked towards her. He looked haggard. His stubble grown further but it only allured her all the more … His eyes were bloodshot and tired. She wanted to run her hands through his hair and soothe out the frown on his forehead…
“Sorry little sparrow… did I wake you?”
“Actually it was good you did… I have to… um… go home.” She said sheepishly.
He nodded and checked his watch.
“Get dressed. I will take you.” He said looking at her with fatigued expression stifling a yawn. Her heart broke. She said, “Don’t worry about it. I will call an Uber…”
“Don’t fight me on this little one…” he said with his voice laded with exhaustion. Namrata knew it was pointless arguing with him and for a change she liked someone taking care of her instead of the other way round.
The drive to her house was quiet. In between he had got a call and he again had scolded the guy named Viraj on the other end. His voice was hoarse now. As they reached the building before hers, he stopped the car. He turned to her, took her right hand and linked his fingers in hers. They sat for a while in complete silence. She knew he was stressed out. She just wished she could help him the way he had done for her… but didn’t know how to.
“I … have to go Ranvijay…” She started to say.
“..Don’t call me by that name…” he said abruptly. “… I am giant eagle for you.” He took their interlocked hand to his mouth releasing them, he held her palm. He further turned towards her and opened her right palm and kissed it. Namrata was kind of moved by the unexpected gesture. He then held her face and kissed her forehead.
“I will be caught up for the next couple of days little sparrow… it’s too important. My employees’ futures depend on this…” he stared outside the window behind her… lost in thought.
She touched his cheek and he leaned into it. “All the best my giant eagle. I wish you all the success” she whispered.
He smiled and gave her a quick peck on her lips before she got out of the car and went home.
She knew he was a busy businessman but today he seemed a bit unnerved.
She just hoped everything went off well for him.
Somewhere a few kilometres away…
The man with a rugged bearded faced and a crooked nose sat on his rocking chair. He smoked like a steam engine and sipped his cognac. He felt victorious. He had finally got what he wanted. His protégé had done a good job so far. It was unbelievable. He had got the eagle’s talons in his clutches…
He had to strike NOW… Monday would be the judgement day… a part of it though. Nonetheless his late wife used to say, ‘well begun is half done’. He looked around at his house. Eight years ago he had wanted to rebuild it for his wife and daughter…. He had the money… he had arranged everything…
But fate had other plans. The eagle had swooped down and torn things apart. Now it was his turn. He was frail and his body had more alcohol than blood running through it. He was sick too. Age had caught up with him. He had the money today as well…He had liquidated his assets slowly over the years… he had lived in oblivion… he could have rebuilt the house…
But he wanted his revenge… luckily for him, this time all cards were playing out well…
He laughed as he played the audio clip over again, “…This Monday should be the best Monday of our lives…”
He wanted what was rightfully his and this time he would get it. This Monday belonged to him…
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