Game of Blogs- ENTANGLED LIVES- Chapter 7



Read the previous Chapter of the story here














Twenty Minutes was what she needed, to arrange the Dutta household in order. The presence of a nine-year-old child could have an impact on everything that is present in the house. However, this house was different in comparison to all the other places that Naina had earlier worked at. It was mostly in disarray due to the adults and not the child. She had been working at the Duttas’ since Roohi was just a month old. Tara had hired her through known sources, who had assured her of Naina's impeccable sincerity and humble attitude. And, Naina did stay true to that.






She wasn't like the usual maid servants you would see working in the Mumbai households. She was educated, could manage to speak English, which wasn't fluent, but at the same time it could be understood. Prior to working with the Dutta's, Naina had worked with an old couple who had taught her to read and write.






Nine years of relationship with the Dutta's had transformed Naina from a maid to almost a family member in their house. She was the one who would often attend to Roohi's demands when Shekhar was busy scratching his head to turn that white piece of paper into a page full of letters. Naina was the one whom Tara would rely on when she had to arrange a quick office meeting at home on a holiday so that she wouldn't have to step out and sweat herself. The class difference between the Duttas’ and Naina had blurred long ago.






To try out Tara's clothes, ornaments, and other cosmetics when no one was around had become a regular hobby for Naina. However hard she would try and avoid, Naina couldn't control the urge to try those pair of danglers that Tara would love to adorn her ears with or that perfect red hot silhouette that Shekhar had gifted Tara on their recent anniversary. While she was unmindful of Shekhar's presence in the house, Roohi was the one whose eyes Naina tried avoiding most of the times.


Every morning she saw Tara leave the house in a hurry to reach her work place on time. As Tara hurried across the rooms to catch her bag and laptop, Naina would run from one corner of the house to other to fetch her phone and other important files that Tara often forgot. Today morning was a little different than everyday. She had just tried the new pink Chanel lipstick, which Tara had bought a few days back while out for shopping, when she heard Tara scream on top of her voice. "Shut the fuck up! I told you to finalise a photo for the cover story a week back and you guys have still not dunnit. Why the hell are you being paid for? To stare at your boss' backless blouse?," Tara was at her insane level.


Naina quickly wiped the pink lipstick off, and ran out of the room. She saw Tara sitting on the breakfast table with one hand on the laptop and the other holding the phone. Unlike the other days, Tara was working from home today on an important cover story that had been pending for weeks. Next to her lay a pile of white sheets, each having a different picture and a few handwritten papers. Tara got up from her chair, cut the call and threw the phone in a fit of rage on the table. Naina was surprised to see Tara in such an angry state.
The phone rang. Tara picked up the call and screamed yet again, "If you don't get me the pictures I want in 15 minutes, I am going to make sure you are not to be seen in the office again." She cut the call and dialled a number, "How long will you take to send me the layout for the cover story?" This time she was a little patient. Before hanging up, she said "I want the layout in exact half an hour." "I am heading out; I should see the layout in my inbox when I come back," she hung up.


As she turned around, she saw Naina in a white shirt and black skirt that Tara had gifted her on her birthday, looking at her with a baffled look. Tara lifted the cigarette pack that lay on the table, pulled her wallet out of the thick stack of papers and walked towards the door. Naina was still looking at Tara and before she could say something, Tara spoke "Shekhar is working in his study. Roohi is out to play. I am heading out for some work. If he asks about me, tell him you have no idea." Tara closed the door behind and left. Naina stood still without speaking a word. She saw the table that she had cleaned just a few minutes ago. It was now turned into a paper bin. Without a second thought, she turned herself towards the kitchen.


Around the neighbourhood, where the Dutta's stayed, was a small cafe which Tara frequented often. It wasn’t too near but Tara liked to walk down to the cafe smoking her cigarette. She loved to sit on the corner table placed next to the large window panes of the cafe. The cafe had an old colonial charm. It had opened a few months ago and was an instant hit with the youngsters and those creative souls who loved to read and write amidst the smell of brewing coffee. Tara needed her regular dose of espresso today to ward off the negative energy that had shrouded her since morning. It was a cover story that could take her career to a level from where there was no looking back. Little did she know that this could also be the story that may even put her dear life at stake. She was in no mood to let go of this story at any cost. From pictures to the layout, she wanted it all perfect and on time.


As she entered the cafe, throwing the last bit of the cigarette away, she saw that her regular seat was


already occupied by someone. She glanced across the cafe and saw it packed. The cafe manager had seen Tara entering and scanning the cafe for a seat. As he approached her, Tara moved to the girl sitting on her regular table. "Hi, do you mind if I sit here for a while? This is my regular place and I usually don't like sitting elsewhere," Tara said in a mellowed yet stern voice. Before the girl could reply, Tara sat down and kept the laptop on the table with a mild thud. The girl flinched, but she smiled and said "It would be my pleasure to share a table with Mumbai's hot-shot journalist. You are Tara Dutta. Right?" Tara scanned the girl opposite to her who was wearing a denim shorts and black razorback, with a red bandana tied on her head. Her neck was adorned with chunks of colorful beads while her left wrist was covered with wooden bangles and a Tissot men’s watch was wrapped on her right wrist. A black DSLR camera was kept on the table next to her cappuccino and extra chocolate doughnut.


"I must say you are quite well versed. But do I know you?" asked Tara with a sense of pride. "Ah, well I am no hot-shot like you. But I am a wanderer who loves to capture her travels in the form of photographs," she answered with a sudden confidence that she had always explicitly shown. "May I know how did I feature in the wanderer's frame?" Tara was now more than interested in taking forward this conversation with an unknown person who had known her somehow. Jennifer, who was back from the hectic Sunderbans tour, had sensed Tara wasn't as polite as she had assumed her to be. She politely remarked, "Well, I happened to read an interview of yours in one of the lifestyle magazines. The way you balance your personal and professional life is praiseworthy, I must say."


"Oh well you are being kind my dear. I didn't catch your name."


"I am Jennifer Joseph. A photographer."


"Hi Jennifer, you seemed to have read quite a lot about me and drawn a conclusion too from that about my life. What else can be expected from mere readers," she said as a matter-of-fact. "But,” she continued, “let me assure you, I am not what you might think I am." Jennifer was puzzled at the revelation that she heard. “Oh, then why don’t you tell me about you?” asked Jennifer


"It would be better if you know it by yourself in course of time," Tara said with a cold look that could turn many in front of her to have a spine chilling moment.


The usually bold and straightforward Jennifer was taken aback by the coldness shown by Tara. It was as if she had not just usurped Tara's regular table but had as though hit her where it hurt the most. Sensing where the conversation could lead to now, Tara was the first to react. "So Jennifer, you were telling me about yourself."


Jennifer adjusted her camera in front of her, took a sip of the cappuccino placed in between her and Tara, and laid her back to rest on the couch that Tara would have loved to rest on. She had realised that she needed to be over and above Tara in order to give her a quick response. "Well, I am not the one who has stories to tell. I am sure being a hot-shot journalist, you'd have loads of stories to share. I am a Keralite. I lost my job there, so as of now, I am just a wanderer who merely has instances from the jungles that I visit often for my photo shoots."

Tara was now observing the Tiger tattoo that Jennifer had engraved on her arms. "You are wild lover."


"Sorry?"


"I mean to say you love wild animals." Jennifer knew where that came from. "Oh that? yeah its quite an old one. I got it inked when I was a kid. I love tigers. I would often go out with my grandpa to just have a look of the wild beast. "


"So what brings you to Mumbai then? There aren’t many tigers here anyway," Tara came straight to the point without wasting any time. Jennifer thought for one extra-long minute. She stared deeply into Tara’s blue eyes and said with a deep sigh, “This” and she took out a bundle of papers with images from her backpack and placed it on the table.


Tara looked at the stack of photographs placed in front of her by Jennifer. She was instantly struck by the colours and pictures that had been framed. They all had a story to tell and she didn’t even have to ask Jennifer what they were all about. But Tara being the not so pleasing personality that she was, looked up from the photographs and faced Jennifer who was busy devouring the hot doughnut with the chocolate oozing out of it. She adjusted her chair to bring back Jennifer to the conversation and forget the doughnut for a while.


“Did you like them?” said a smiling Jennifer who seemed to have read too much between the lines.


“Well, they are kind of good, but they aren’t the best. I feel they are amateurish,” Tara bluffed. She had never seen such imagery ever in any of her photographers back in office. She wanted to hire Jennifer instantly but wouldn’t do so without letting her plead.






Jennifer was aghast. She had had rejections earlier but had never felt such a bitter moment like when Tara spoke of her pictures. She wasn’t the one to face the heat easily. She retorted, “Well, they are any day better than the pictures that I see in Mumbai’s top selling newspapers and magazines,” said Jennifer and quickly murmured, “including yours.” Now it was Jennifer who had touched Tara’s yet another weak nerve.


Before Tara could speak, Jennifer spoke again, “Being a photographer, looking at pictures is my favorite pass time. Sometimes I wonder, Oh lord! Which idiot had hired them. These people have no sense for pictures and what do they intend to tell you? Either the photographer is fake or the employers do not know what a photographer is like”






Jennifer’s words stung Tara like a bee. She had anyway not had a great start to the morning. Now Jennifer’s outright replies had left her nowhere to hide. She knew Jennifer was right but couldn’t say it on her face. After all, Tara Dutta was the superior. She would not let any random stranger on the street to take her down like this. She wanted to say something more but realised it was not the perfect situation. The cover story needed her more than the argument with a stranger. She drank her espresso in one shot, asked the waiter to get the check, pulled out one of her ever fascinating visiting cards from her wallet, and extended her hand holding


it towards Jennifer.






“Keep this for your reference. What are you doing on Wednesday? Call up my office and fix up an appointment. Let’s talk in detail at work.”


Jennifer didn’t know whether to be happy or not. Moments ago the same lady had ripped apart her photographs and now she was holding her business card out. She had thoughts running in her mind. “Why is she offering me her card when she did not like my photos?”


Before she could bring the question to Tara, the phone rang up. Tara picked up the call. “Oh my god, I am coming in five minutes. Please don’t let him go.” She kept the card on the table and waved a goodbye to Jennifer in a hurry.


Jennifer was clueless. She too got up from her table, paid the manager and left in a hurry following Tara.






Read the next Chapter of the story here



Previous Chapters- ENTANGLED LIVES


Chapter 1


Chapter 2


Chapter 3


Chapter 4


Chapter 5


Chapter 6



Me and my team 'Potliwale Baba are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.






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Srilakshmi Indaresan


Sneha Bhattacharjee


Deepak Nare


Hemant Kumar Jain


Shameen Rizwana


Shoumik De


Tushar


Ritu Pandey


Nirav Thakker


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