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The driver had the car ready near the entrance. He was waiting for his employer. As he got a glimpse of his employer coming out of the lift, his mobile rang. Even as he was contemplating for a minute whether or not to take the call, the burly man, with a stern looking faced came out of the office building. And he left the call unattended and jumped out to attend his employer.

The car had started. He could hear his employer loosening up the tie and relaxing himself. As the cool air from the BMW’s AC rushed past their hairs gently, he said to the driver, ” To my Mother’s place”. And the driver’s phone rang again. As the popular item number’s beat filled the silent car, he attended the call. After listening for less than a minute, his reply was a hushed yell. He cut the call.

” Who was that?” asked the employer in a tone that was bordering authority and care.

” My Mother, Sir” came the reply.

“Why do you have to shout at her always? She’s your mother after all!”

The driver’s face had become almost red. Whether it was out of shame or anger was inscrutable. He replied, “Sir! She had been asking me to take her to the temple for the last one month. But I didn’t……”

“If you need money, why don’t you ask me? I’d have…”

“Sir, it is not about money. She’s an asthma patient and I can’t take her there given the weather conditions in that place”

“Then take her to to a good doctor!”

“It was the doctor who advised not to…..” started the driver.. But the employer was in no mood to listen.

“See. This is the time she needs more attention. You have to take good care of her. You can’t be so negligible and harsh to her. At least talk to her nicely. Keep her happy and content! What more, after all, could be more important than her happiness?”

“Sir…”

” You should…” A corporate’ised ringtone interrupted the gyan of the employer and he slid it open to answer the call.

“Yes I’ve started. Yeah. Ten minutes. I’ll reach. Is everything ready? OK fine. I will be there anytime now”

As he cut the call, the phone rang again. In a more serious tone, he spoke into his phone, “Yes Sister. You are right. The ‘Annadhan’ should be in my mother’s name. Yes. Yes. Definitely.”

“Anything special today, Sir?” asked the driver.

“Ah yeah” he answered with a deep sigh “It is my mother’s birthday today. So I have arranged for an ‘Annadhan’ and a small party. I want her to be happy and smiling.”

The driver could almost feel his employer’s chest puffing out of pride. And then the car stopped as silently as it was running. The employer stepped out and started walking towards the entrance. He stopped midway and turned towards the driver, “Driver, bring the gift from the car”. Turning towards the entrance he thought to himself, ” I should have asked that secretary girl what gift she brought for mom!”

As the driver took the gift lying in the rear seat, enclosed in a glittery paper, and closed the door, he saw the reflection of the board hanging on the building wall in the mirror. He had been there too many times to read it even upside down: Karma Old Age Home

Perhaps it was out of anger… Not shame… Perhaps…

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