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The Reborn Daughter

Short Story By Lakshmi Menon

With trembling fingers Mini typed out her letter and signed it after a lot of hesitancy. She had enjoyed her work, friendly colleagues and the affectionate boss. “This is my first and last job”, thought Mini painfully as she entered the Director’s cabin with the resignation letter.

Jagadish Mehta was as usual busy with his work. He motioned her to sit for a while. After reading the last letter and affixing his signature, Mehtaji looked at Mini with a smile, ready to attend to her.

Mini handed over the resignation after a final look, along with the wedding invitation card. Suddenly, she noticed a flicker of pain passing over Mehtaji’s face while he extended his hand to congratulate her.

Mini had been working with him as his personal secretary for the last five years. She had informed him of her marriage proposed two weeks ago, when she had returned from a month’s annual leave. The previous day, she had received a final letter from her mother stating that since everything was settled, she had to resign and start for home as early as possible.

Jagadish Mehta was very upset at losing his efficient secretary although he pretended to be happy on hearing the news of her marriage.  He recollected the day Mini, a young and pretty girl without any experience in the field, had joined his office. He was initially very reluctant to appoint her, as the post demanded great responsibility. But during the interview she did well, and he had come to know through a personal interview that mini was the eldest daughter of her widowed mother. Mini’s mother had three other daughters apart from Mini, and a son who was still at school.  With great difficult Mini was educated up to the final year of school and sent to attend a computer course. Rajan Seth, the personnel officer, was alarmed at the director’s decision to appoint an inexperienced girl for this responsible post.

But, Mini proved herself very soon, and Rajan Seth’s fears were short-lived. She handled her work with extreme care and earned her superior’s appreciation and confidence in no time. The director was so pleased with her work that a single day’s absence on Mini’s part caused him great concern. She did her duties as though she could read Mehtaji’s mind. Mini was always attentive and conscientious in her work as well as the different moods of her boss. It helped Mehtaji avoid many of his tensions and the unnecessary bad temper thrown at his  employees. Mehtaji had never seen a secretary as efficient as Mini, in all his 50 years of life. Sitting on his rolling executive chair, Jagadish Mehta realized with pain that Mini had become so indispensable to him that her absence made him sick with trepidation.

“Saab is in a very bad mood,” his persona peon would tell others when they waited outside his room to see him for any urgent work, when Mini had been on leave.

“Why should I be so upset at losing her? Can’t I find another good secretary in her place?” He asked himself. He soon decided to send his request for a good and efficient secretary to all the placement agencies immediately.

The last day when Mini entered Mehtajis cabin to hand over her keys and say goodbye to her boss, she was surprised to get a small packet as her wedding gift. Tears pricked her eyes as she left his cabin. Back in her seat, she opened the small packet and, to her surprise, she found a thick gold chain inside with a note hanging at the end, Dear Mini, wish you  a very happy and long married life – Jagadish Mehta.

Mini gratefully accepted other presents given to her by her colleagues. The possibility of their attending her marriage in her far-away village was out of the question. She was loved and respected by all, for her helping nature and her sweet and innocent smile. As she bade goodbye to all of them and the office where she had spent five years of her life happily, arms loaded with various packets, Mini wiped her tears away with a  handkerchief, and tried to smile.

Due to a heavy workload Mehtaji had to fill up the post after a fortnight. Though Daisy tried her best to prove herself as a good secretary, Mehtaji seemed to be always dissatisfied with her. As the days passed  he realizeid that he missed Mini very much. Many of his subordinates had to become the unfortunate victims of his short temper.

Was Mini a mere secretary to me? He began to wonder. Mehtaji suddenly remembered Mini’s wedding day and sent greetings to the address printed on the invitation card. Usually, his secretary sent such greetings. He felt as though he was sending greetings to a daughter at her marriage. The marriage of his only daughter Reena then came to his mind. She was married two years ago, and went abroad with her husband, leaving her only little brother with him.

He pictured Mini in her bridal costume, clad in a traditional Kancheepuram silk sari, going with her handsome husband, bidding goodbye to her mother and sisters. She would have hugged her little brother in the way Reena did Ashish. Mini would have missed her father at the time of her marriage as the way Reena had missed her mother whom she had lost during childhood. The very thought of his dear wife filled his eyes with tears and the painful memories of her accidental death.

“No…” he screamed, and tried to recoup himself soon.

A week later, he looked forward to a letter from Mini. “Why didn’t she write to me…?”

Suddenly, another flush of feeling danced in his mind. Why should she write to me now? After all, I was only a boss to her. I had never shown my fatherly feeling to her.

Mehtaji was, on a Monday morning, about to leave the house for the Customs office. He suddenly remembered that he had not dictated an urgent letter to Daisy to be sent abroad about his proposed visit. “If it was Mini I wouldn’t have worried. She would have managed it by herself and kept it ready for my signature, or even had it sent to my house,” he murmured. “This stupid Daisy doesn’t even know how to draft a single letter by herself. She was supposed to be having more years of experience than Mini.”

Continued here....