CHAPTER 3 – PICKING UP THE PIECES
Jane had been furious when Anil confessed he was married after receiving the surprise phone call from NY airport when Asha arrived in the US. Up to this time she’d thought this Asha he was always communicating with was his sister. He’d blamed his parents for arranging a marriage he hadn’t wanted in the first place but eventually Jane pulled the truth out of him. He’d chosen to go to Mumbai for this marriage but had told Jane it was to visit his sick father and now it was becoming plain, she’d loved him unreservedly and been used! The fight had gone on all night while Asha slept in her hotel oblivious on her first night in New York.
Then in the morning Jane packed her things and headed for temporary accommodation with a close friend. She left little items around and sprayed the drawers with perfume. While taking a taxi to her friends place she planned revenge. She’d destroy his marriage and let him come begging back to her. If that failed she’d spread the word far and wide among their mutual friends he was an exploiter that must be shunned. This was America, no one messed with a woman and got away with it forever here.
Anil had been smarting from that split with Jane who he’d really loved and delayed his return home that evening knowing eventually Asha would come to know of his duplicity and share that news with her parents. Then his parents would come to know. He had no idea how to handle the fall-out from the two families and that disturbed him even more than the reaction from Asha when she came to know. Little did he know Jane had already cared for that.
Asha was sweating over dinner preparation and holding the volcano inside her in check as he came through the door faking confidence and singing the latest Hindi movie song loudly. She turned to face him, and he could see betrayer written clearly on her face. Jane had not been fooling him and somehow communicated his relationship with her to Asha. He sighed and sat at the table staring at the food coldly served to him. Best to get it over with. He pushed the food aside.
“I’m more distressed about this than you’d accept now Asha, what do you want to do? We haven’t consummated the marriage and lived together beyond the marriage celebration and I’m not going to take advantage of you again tonight. If you want out I’ll fully understand, and we can arrange for a divorce in due course. Probably best to keep this situation away from our families as you know this will get them at war with each other. I think you need to be in the US for a few years if you’ve come in on a married partner basis. If you want to proceed with the marriage I think we both need some space for a while in order to have you regain confidence in me. I suppose Jane has been in touch with you. She threatened she would, and your face tells me she has. I’ll go stay with Rick from work tonight and you can tell me what our future is to be tomorrow.” He pushed his food aside and slowly got up to pack a few things in an overnight carry all.
Asha stared at him with remarkable control and nodded her head, then sat down to enjoy the curry and rice she’d prepared to perfection ignoring him. She loved cooking and the preparation for this meal had helped take her mind from the situation she faced and the rage churning inside her. Anil paused to say something at the door, shrugged and headed for the elevator to take him down to streets below. While waiting to hail a cab he phoned Rick telling him he was staying the night. They were close friends and Rick already knew of the dilemma facing Anil. He’d known this could end badly but they’d been friends from the time Anil first arrived in New York to work, and close friends look out for each other.
Asha spent most of the night thinking through the situation logically. She was a logical person, smart and disciplined with a creative mind and she’d risen through the ranks of the Mumbai commerce world despite it being male dominated. While she may not have risen to the top of the heap in Mumbai she was realistic about how far she could go and aimed for that post. But here it may be different, now she was here she wanted to test possibilities. Going back to Mumbai was out of the question for now, others had taken her place and she’d be viewed as being a failure in not making it in a foreigner’s world. That reputation would impede her progress. Besides that, her family would be embarrassed at this turn of events and her presence would not help. Whichever way it was to turn out she’d manage it here.
These memories and other thoughts came flooding into mind as she sat in her temporary cubicle with some assignments on the first day at work waiting for one of the executives in charge of her orientation to summon her to the initial meeting. She knew him well from his frequent visits to Mumbai and looked forward to working with him as he mentored her into her new role whatever that would be. It had not been clearly defined. They were probably waiting to see how she handled herself in this new environment.
As she was mulling this over in her mind the light on her desktop phone lit up and the buzzer gave an urgent sound. Asha looked at it in surprise, hesitated momentarily then picked it up. Regaining her composure, she put on her professional voice and spoke confidently. The voice on the other end responded.
“Hi, this is Tad Cunningham, I think you remember me from my visits to Mumbai Asha. Welcome to New York, I hope your hotel accommodation was suitable and you are well rested now. I’m sending my secretary to bring you up to the next floor where we have the executive suites, we need to commence your orientation so I’m taking a couple of days from my executive duties to do that. You’ll be on a steep learning curve for a while particularly while you get used to the US, but I know you won’t let me down as I had to put pressure on my peers to get you here and they’ll be anxious to meet this whiz kid I brought in from Mumbai.” He laughed pleasantly and disconnected.
Fifteen minutes later an attractive young woman appeared at her cubicle entrance. “Hi, I’m Sue, welcome to New York Asha. Please follow me.” Asha and Sue chatted as they took the elevator up to the next floor and they were soon in Tad Cunningham’s office. Asha tried to look nonchalant as she took the seat offered her on the other side of Tad’s desk. Sue took her laptop off the table and headed to the interview table where she made herself comfortable waiting for instructions. The suite was palatial and the view over New York unbelievable. Ambition raised itself in Asha’s mind as she took it all in.
Tad looked at Sue. “This time you should only record the conversations I tell you to Sue.” He smiled and turned to face Asha.
“Sue records all conversations in this office, so I can review them later and share in written form with an interviewee to make sure they have the same understanding of our interview I do, but there are private things that do not go on record Asha, remember that. There are privacy laws here and people must agree to anything recorded in advance and sign off. Are you OK with that so far? We’re dealing at top corporate level here and need to get the legal niceties in place.
Asha thought for a moment and then nodded.
“Good let’s get started then.” He pulled out a file and glanced through it smiling. The office had obviously done their research on her. “Excellent recommendations all around from those sent to secretly check my recommendation to employ you Asha. One has a note that you should be advised up front not to use the term Sir here in addressing your superiors. Those sent to Mumbai to check on you noticed that was a practice we don’t do here. If you operate at this level we use our personal names not Sir. There will be a need to travel and attend to evening meetings with clients. We thoroughly research local customs and ways to address people with respect there. We read widely about our destinations before venturing into cultural areas where we do business. You will travel with me for a year and will then be delegated some easy well-established international jobs to do. A detailed job description will be given you and you will need to sign off on that before formal engagement. At this stage are you clear on that?”
Asha nodded again, and Tad continued.
“I need to ask you some personal questions but first you’ll be issued with an iPhone and laptop which are encrypted for business use only. Do not use your personal smart phone, tablet or laptop for corporate business please. That could cost you your job. What you will be issued are corporate property and will be replaced by our IT each year while you are with us. Now where are you staying?”
Sue interrupted. “If you don’t have a place to stay I’m looking for someone to share my apartment and cost of rental and utilities. My girl friend just got married and moved out and I’ve been searching for a suitable person to share it with. It’s very nice.” She added quickly.
Tad glanced at the file in front of him. “You should be able to share that on your salary.”
Asha turned to Sue gratefully. “I’d love to take you up on that offer.”
Now the report says you’re single still but were to be married. Is that correct? I see you’re on a single person work visa our legal department wangled for you in a hurry. That was unusually fast, I wonder how they managed that? How will your husband to be deal with your travelling with other men? Is that an issue? If so we may have a problem employing you?”
“Not a problem, but there are some personal matters I do need to discuss with you privately if you can make time for that. Is that possible?”
Tad turned to Sue, “Could you give us a few minutes Sue?
“Sure Tad, I’ll go arrange for the IPhone and Laptop with IT. What about the corporate credit card for travel?”
“Yes, please arrange that too.”
Sue departed, and Asha’s hands trembled under the desk as she prepared to give a truthful report of her marriage barely consummated. In those seconds as Sue departed she made a final decision. Her marriage with Anil was now over and irreconcilable. She would take this opportunity and go it alone even if it meant a temporary disengagement from her family once they found out.
To be continued.
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