This, today, is the last of my functional days at this office. As I sit writing this, I see that my neighbour has a stomach-aching inkling that I am whiling time away. He gives me an oblique jeering glance and smiles economically to himself with the air of a veteran who has done it all, or at least, seen it all. I tell myself I am well justified in it; and 'is it not that my stipend is lesser than his salary by an amount equal to his salary', I soothe my dawning self-consciousness and recline defiantly, limbs stretched out, on my spring-laden cushiony chair. He raises his eyebrow for an infinitesimal moment but I somehow catch it, and pull the lever of my chair down. Now it is sufficiently low-slung for these partitions to ensure that I am out of his range of view. Emboldened by invisibility, I do a quick swivelling movement even as the chair's spindle creaks, and just as I am about to face the desk again after two complete rotations, uncap the pen and drag it on to the register like a landing airplane and start writing in cursive italics at once. There is a bit of Rajanikanth in every chairbound apprentice, I tell you.
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My corner in the office overlooks a wall-sized lemony-yellow windowpane, Saint Gobain I guess. The window overlooks a spate of scenes, but my corner only overlooks the window and a tree just outside it, thanks to the many obstructing cubicles in between. The yellow tinted glass-pane makes me see a splendid sunset-hour evening-sky every hour of the day; and on one occasion too many I've made a fool of myself by running expectantly to the window and peeking out of the abetting porthole only to stand the glare of a harsh sun. But I marvel at this stained glass anyhow, and chew over getting myself a pair of yellow shades, but heck, they look a tad too gaudy, don't they?
In any case, when I cast my eyes over the entire place from the window today, I noticed that there stood a girl at the groundnut-hawker's, instead of that grumpy forty-something who hasn't smiled once in the last forty days. She isn't, as one can tell, exactly a stunner, but too good to be that hairy horror's daughter all the same. 'But who else could she be anyway, his daughter she is, she is', I tried warding off my cheap suspicions. Every now and then, a customer would appear, assess the items, but leave without buying a trifle. 'I love groundnuts', I condition myself and quietly sneak out of the office. Down at the stall, I take a closer look at her - she isn't as good from here as from a distance, but there's a certain piquant, tangy thing about her which, if the products had, they would have been worth buying for double the amount. Street-smartness oozes out of her voice, and it occurs to me that the Basanti in Sholay could well have been one of her followers. I taste a bit of everything enquiringly and finally settle down on fried grams and a sweet peanut slice. I had barely begun haggling, and she had barely begun resisting, when suddenly the eyesore, her dad, appeared out of nowhere, and with an expression as severe as Ajay Devgan in a romantic scene, asked me to take it or leave it. Probably he understood, discerning old fellow, that my eyes didn't speak of a man discouraged by prices.