Ramesh walked quickly along the streets of Andheri East. He was late for work… again. It was his first week working at the upscale Grand Arch Hotel, and he couldn’t afford to lose his job.
Two weeks ago, he had boldly left his quiet, little village and arrived in the bustling city of Mumbai. This was the city of opportunities and he was determined to seize every opportunity that came his way.
“Almost there now,” he said to himself.
As he approached the marble pillars that graced the entrance to the hotel, a slender lady in a bright orange sari sashayed into his path. She walked delicately, like a flower swaying in the wind. A sharp contrast from his hurried pace.
He slowed down to appear more dignified. Suddenly, the lady stumbled on a loose pebble. She fell in a heap, her brown bag smashed to the ground with a loud thump.
Ramesh rushed over to her. He bent down low, checking to see if she was hurt.
“Are you okay?” he asked, concern filled his voice.
She looked up at him. Tears had welled up in her wide brown eyes. Soft brown locks cascaded around her face and down her shoulders, framing her petite figure.
“Oh no, my boss would kill me,” she said quietly. Her voice had a gentle lilt to it. He was mesmerised.
She gestured towards the bag full of groceries. Egg yolks oozed out of their shells and several fruits were squashed beyond recognition.
Ramesh looked into her sad eyes. Something tugged at his heart. This was an opportunity to do good, he had to seize it. She stood up and slowly began to gather herself.
“What will you do?” Ramesh asked.
“I need to buy these items again, or my head is off. But I have no money,” her fingers trembled as she spoke.
His eyes darted to his watch, he didn’t have time to waste. Ramesh did a quick mental calculation and dug into his pockets.
He thrust a wad of bills into her palm. It was more than enough to cover her grocery bill – a week’s wages for him.
“Go quickly to the stores, it’s going to be alright,” he said.
Her eyes were wide with wonder as she instantly knelt to thank him. He waved her off and turned towards the hotel. A part of him ached to turn back and ask for her phone number, or at least her name. Time wasn’t his friend today.
He forced himself to place each foot in front of the other. True love lost was bound to be found again, he reassured himself.
He jogged up the last few steps into the luxurious foyer of the hotel. A sharp left turn led him to the metal door of the security control room. He pinned on his guard’s badge and cautiously turned the door knob.
The cold, dark room was dimly lit by lights from multiple computer monitors. Ramesh sheepishly snuck behind his desk and logged into his staff account.
He scanned the array of screens, each one played out scenes from within and around The Grand Arch Hotel. He had forgotten about the CCTV cameras strategically placed outside the hotel entrance. The street was being keenly watched by the mechanical eyes.
He caught his breath sharply as he spotted her on the third computer monitor.
Her orange sari was tightly wrapped around her as she cat-walked along the street. Her sway gave no indication of the earlier fall. He watched as she tripped and fell before an elderly couple.
The same shattered groceries spilled out of the same brown bag. They were nothing compared to his shattered heart.