Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Battle of Life and Death

“What’s the rate?” Kshamank asked grimly.

“19.” Came the reply. Kshamank looked at Jeremy and his lips turned into a thin line. Jeremy shivered.

“This isn’t ENOUGH!!!!” Kshamank said and pounded his arms on the table. A few feathers flew freely off on the floor from the table. Jeremy squeaked.

“Our numbers are falling from last year. How is it happening?” Kshamank asked looking at no one in particular.

Nishtha, his slender and milky complexioned assistant spoke in a relatively higher pitch.

“Japan and Singapore are showing negative growth. Europe is also not showing much pace anymore.”

“Negative growth. We are actually behind HIM!” Kshamank said in a shock.

Nishtha nodded.

“Cancel everyone’s holidays. I want the numbers back up again.” Kshamank said furiously.

GR took one swig off the bottle and tumbled into the tub that was filled with wine.

Aadil looked at GR flabbergasted.

“I think you didn’t hear me correctly. We are behind them by a huge margin. Our numbers are just 8 as compared to 19 by them.” Aadil said giving the figures once again.

“I heard you fine Aadil. You need to relax a bit. A bit of relaxation wouldn’t kill you.” GR said and started to laugh. The rest of the staff, except Aadil laughed with him.

“But sir, isn’t it a worrying thing. We are behind them. In fact, our yearly figures have rarely been ahead of them.” Aadil said with fervour.

“You are new here Aadil.” GR said calmly. He came out of the wine tub.

“Yes, sir.” Aadil said stuttering.

“Then you should know a few things about GR corp. First, you don’t call me sir. Call me by my name. Second, learn to enjoy every second of your life. Third, GR corp’s aim isn’t to win against Stork corporations.” GR said in an even tone as if he had never had a sip of alcohol in his life.

“Yes, sir.” Aadil gulped.

“Sir?” GR looked at Aadil sternly.

“Yes, Grim.” Aadil said and Grim Reaper smiled.

“Have to keep apace. Have to increase the gap.” Kshamank kept muttering to himself. Another stork — Simba was using his beak to clean Kshamank. Kshamank opened his mouth and let out a sharp shriek that sounded like a child’s cry. This happened to him when he was too stressed.

“S.. Sorry Kshamank.” Simba said afraid. Kshamank looked at Simba sternly but didn’t say anything. He hadn’t realised Simba was cleaning him. He was too focused on the stats lying in front of him.

“Kshamank. Do you think it’s right to make everyone work on Sunday?”

Kshamank looked fiercely at the new voice that had entered the room. Nishtha looked at him tired. Her hair were grizzled and her shoulders were slumped.

“It’s just one Sunday.” Kshamank said dismissively.

“It’s our third consecutive Sunday Kshamank.” Nishtha said and picked a fish from the aquarium and gulped it down. She was the only one who had the permission or courage to take stock from Kshamank’s personal aquarium.

“We will rest when the results are up to the mark.” Kshamank said.

“We are almost there Kshamank. Let’s have one day off. GR corp won’t be able to do anything more in one day.” Nishtha said pleadingly. She looked at Simba for support but found him shuddering. He looked at Kshamank and kept cleaning him without looking up.

“No Nishtha. No holidays until we have reached the goal. Now go and work.” Kshamank said and dismissed Nishtha.

“So, what is the rate for today?” GR said joyously. Today was ‘secret santa clothes day’ in the office. Each person could secretly tell another person (decided beforehand) what they will wear on that day. GR himself was wearing a full costume of Wonder woman unabashedly.

“The birth rate has increased tremendously. The storks are sending babies at twice the normal speed. In fact, I am amazed that they are ever able to work that hard. Each stork must be working overtime.” Aadil said, his voice filled with amazement.

“Probably! Kshamank is a hard taskmaster — relentless and unforgiving.” GR said using his made-from-rope lasso to make loops.

“You seem happy by this.” Aadil asked uncertainly.

“I most certainly am. His work ethic is good for the business. Besides, don’t you remember what I told you at the last party?”

“That we are not aiming to win.”

“Yup.”

“But why? And why do we push our numbers at all then if we are not trying to compete with them.” Aadil asked unable to control himself. GR looked at Aadil and smiled.

“The reason we push ourselves is to keep them on their toes. In a way, they are our feeder company. The more they work hard, the less we have to work to keep up our numbers. Remember that.” GR said with a glint in his eyes.

“Oh.” Aadil said and for the first time was scared of his boss.