Ujwal Singh Verma and Radhe Shyam Sharma were walking hand in hand on the deck of the luxury liner, MNS Godavari, on a languorous Sunday evening. There was romance in the air with seagulls making intimate calls hovering above their head. Unable to conceive any legitimate excuse for their leave of absence from their busy work schedule, Ujwal and Radhe had SMSed to their boss an identical message : “Test confirm Pregnancy, need rest”.
The boss was stunned. Sweating from top to toe, Mr. Jaal Daruwala paced up and down his cabin. “God, are they going to hold me responsible? Surely, a memo does not cause pregnancy,” he muttered. In the past six months Mr Daruwala had fired Mohini, Sohini, Julie and Rita for having emailed him similar excuse.
“But, their case was different. They all were truly expecting babies. How can Verma and Sharma give such an impossible reason in their SMSed leave application? This is preposterous. No doubt I had been screwing their happiness in office and denying them bonus. They were poignant but surely this cannot make them pregnant,” he reasoned.
Mr. Daruwala nursed an illusion that at 69 he still looked debonair and gave appreciative smile to the office peons who gossiped within his earshot how the boss resembled Dev Anand in looks as well as in the way he walked and talked. Though he giggled and occasionally broke into a peel of laughter at slightest provocation, Mr. Daruwala could at best be described as a jovial person and not happy and gay.
Verma and Sharma knew well that Mr. Daruwala did often ask Mohini, Sohini, Julie and Rita to stay back after office hours to take dictation from him. This was their biggest grudge against Mr. Daruwala. “We too have many marketing collaterals to draft and email. But never have we asked the secretarial staff to stay back and work overtime,” Verma had complained to Sharma one day.
“Let us teach the boss a lesson of his life,” Sharma told Verma. “Let’s give pregnancy as the reason to go on leave. This will be an ultimate insult to Mr. Daruwala who is often heard boasting before all and sundry that he has climbed the Kutub Minar without going to Delhi via Agra,” Sharma said in a conspiratorial tone.
Verma jumped at the idea. “Mr. Daruwala will turn red faced and closet himself in his cabin on receiving our SMS. He cannot tell the HR that both of us have proceeded on maternity leave. The HR manager knows very well that Mohini, Sohini, Julie and Rita too had taken maternity leave after doing overtime every alternate Saturday. He is bound to spread the word through the canteen grapevine that this time Sharma and Verma too are pregnant,” Verma chuckled.