The first thing I did next morning was to catch a bus to Suresh Ramji’s house to see Mani. He was still at his bed, sleeping peacefully. I threw a cup of water in his face and he woke up cursing me.
“What did I ask you to do and what have you done?”
“What? I didnt even come to centre. Why are you mad at me?”
“What happened in Erode?”
He didnt speak. Suresh Ramji gave him a tight slap and then he started to speak.
“I went there. I located her place and the tuition she was taking. My friend and I was getting to know about the names of various girls coming there. Finally we made a mistake of asking the wrong person”
“Who was that?”
“That guy’s name was Selva.” I took a deep breath and I finally come to know what has happened.
“Did you by anyway beat him?”
“No, its just the opposite. Seems he had a thing for the girl and he started bashing us. However, later we told the truth and he warned us not to come back again”
“Why didnt you tell me?”
“I was about to tell you. But when I was back, my job was gone and you were sitting at my place. I know its wrong. But..”
I dashed out of the house and I dont know what Suresh Ramji talked to him. But when he came back in the evening, I said I wont be needing his mobile from now on. He sat with me.
“Prasanna! I know you are upset. But give it time to heal. Mani was stupid.”
“No. Its not about Mani. Its about how they have manipulated that girl and she wont even believe me, if I tell all this”
“If you ask me, what you did was wrong. It was stalking and nobody would appreciate that.”
“I know. That adds insult to the injury”
“Now better forget it” as he was saying, we heard a fragile male voice calling us.
“Sir” I looked up and that was the person who came the day before from the college standing at the door.
Suresh Ramji walked out and this guy came in with the paper which I have typed his project the day before.
“Yes” I said.
“I showed the project to my professor and he gave this for correction” he said to me handing me the bunch of paper. The paper was a massacre with blood (red ink) in every other sentence.
“This means I have to type the whole thing again” I said.
“Yes Sir! But as you see, there were lot of spelling mistakes” I knew I was not good at typing but I hated someone pointing out that.
“There will not be any discounts. This time you will check everything before we take printout and you cant blame me next time” I said. He was looking as if deer caught in flood lights.
“Have you brought money?” I asked seeing his reaction.
“No. I thought it was your mistake and you will reverse it for me.” I was confused at this point and I asked him to sit and walked to talk to Suresh Ramji. He was just outside the centre. I explained him the situation and he came up with suggestion of using used, one side papers for proof and not charging for that today. But from the next time he will have to pay.
When I got back to the centre, he was with the same look on his face. He was OK for the deal. I searched my computer for the previous file to make edits. But it was not there. I simply didnt save it.
“What is your name boss?”
“Ok! I think I will have to do this again. Considering this is a twenty page thing, you can come tomorrow to see it.”
“No I need to take it back now”
“Come on! Its seven now and by the time we finish it will be like nine. Who is going to check your project by nine at night”
“I stay in the hostel. So does my professor”
“When is your project due?”
“I have only five days more. I need to give the draft today”
He sat with me the whole time dictating how I should keep my hand and what punctuation to use where. He was so concious about the spacing that he didn’t want even an extra page to come. He had to pay for it right? The next five days were the most agonizing episodes in my tenure in Computer Park Cafe.
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