“What is up with you these days, Mihika?”, asked Ms. Ritika Khanna.
Mihika looked at the Editor-in-Chief blankly. Khanna had always been the perfect boss. A strong woman and a single mother to two children, she always knew how to bring the best out of her employees. However, after reading her favourite young writer’s most miserable and abysmal article till now, she desperately wanted to know what was troubling her.
“I want an article which I can believe is written by you by Thursday, is that clear?”, she said with genuine empathy in her tone.
“Yes ma’am.”, answered Mihika. She returned to her desk, almost shaking with shame and guilt. On her right was a big group of her colleagues which stopped laughing just when she entered. An year ago, when she got the job, she created quite a reputation for herself, which varied greatly from seniors to her colleagues. The ones she could have called ‘friends’, thought that the new girl just played with pure good luck.
“What did your mother say?”, asked one of the guys sardonically. With months of bullying, the whole group seemed to forget that he got the job through his elder brother and was as useless as his opinions in the office conferences.
Mihika did not answer. They continued talking about a party they were going to have this weekend. In a small, yet audible voice she asked if she could come too. Some grins were passed among them, as a sign of mutual ignorance. A quiver of shame again went through the boycotted victim. She packed her belongings and went straight to her apartment.
The moment she went inside the bedroom, she collapsed into tears. An hour spent by with a delicate face buried in a drowning pillow. She recalled the first day of her job. Her late father would say,”With new places, you begin a new you.”
Suddenly, she started repeating the line on and on. Her brain was brimming with madness, she thought she had lost months ago. Mihika was determined she wanted to leave the place and her present self. She started packing all her essentials into a small suitcase. She left the apartment with a last glance and placed some money on the kitchen counter along with a letter for the grumpy land-lord.
The late night bus was carrying one more destination-less traveler.
“This is going to be alright… or I’ll make it”, she thought to herself. Her boss was constantly in her thoughts. She wished to see her again somehow, which would be only possible through a miracle since she had no plan of returning.
A journey of seven hours went by before the bus stopped. The place looked like a small town with lakes and mountains giving life to the whole population. A group of school kids were playing ‘pitthu‘. Mihika stepped out of the bus and joined the ecstatic children. They played for an hour, before she realized that the bus had left her long ago. It felt like a sign and so she decided to live there only.
A one room apartment was rented and she changed jobs from waitressing to volunteering. With time, people acknowledged her exemplary command over English and soon a teaching job found its way to her. This was not a dream job, but the life was surely no less than a peaceful sleep after an exhausting day.
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