“Qualisilks” was the last shop in one corner of the supermarket. Shashi Modak pushed the glass door open and entered. His eyes wandered over the counters as if in search of somebody. They came to rest on a curly head just visible over the counter. She suddenly looked up from what she was doing and he observed her oval face with its dark luminous eyes that slanted outwards.
‘Beautiful! And the colour of the material around her heightens the blush in her cheeks,’ thought Shashi.
She looked him over from head to toe.
‘Wealthy and devilish handsome too,’
“What can I do for you Sir?” she asked.
Her voice was low and inviting, the unmistakable trait of a sensuous woman!
“I’d like to see some of the anti-crease terene cottons.”
“This way please.”
She led him to the Men’s section and pointed to the different types of material that were available.
“Terene cotton in green, blue, cream. Or these pure cottons in white, cream or brown. They are tebilized and wrinkle-free. We have three varieties – Tudor Rose, Corolin and Double six.”
Shashi scanned her face as she pulled down the material for his inspection. When she spoke, a dimple appeared on her right cheek which was quite becoming. Her teeth were pearly white.
‘Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth,’ he thought, ‘Looks so innocent and beautiful.’
Their hands touched, and she quickly withdrew hers, blushing a rosy pink.
“I’ll take as many yards of the terene cotton you have in all three shades.”
She raised an eyebrow in surprise.
“Business,” he said, by way of an answer. “I’m in the Import-Export business. An important order has come my way, and I really don’t have time to scout around in the bargain basements. Could you be quick with the packing?”
He pulled back his cuff to reveal an expensive watch on a thick gold strap.
“Pay at the counter please.”
“Yes, and could you send the package to my car?”
She watched him from the corner of her eye. He pulled out his wallet with a flourish, and extracted five thousand-rupee notes.
‘Rich guy,” she thought, ‘If only I can hook him!’
At breakfast the next day, six young girls sat around the table. Madam Shakil took her place at the head of the table. The girls though good looking, looked wan and drowsy.
“Why do we have to work during the day?” one asked, “I couldn’t stay awake last night. I was that tired.”
“You don’t know what you are saying. This is a respectable boarding house for working girls and we have to keep up that image,” said Madam.
“But it seems so stupid and pointless,” the girl replied, “Why should we slog during the day for a paltry sum when we can make three times that amount in one night?”
“I’m the boss around here, and if things don’t suit you you’re free to go back to your village,” Madam said angrily, “You forget that I picked you out of the gutters and gave you a wealthy and comfortable life. I’ll have none of you telling me how to run this home.”
The girls were silent. It was true that Madam had given them every comfort. In return she expected implicit obedience. A few hours of work in the day in some office of her choosing, then back to the premises before dusk. They had wholesome food and a few hours of rest. What better life could they expect?
To ease the tension at the breakfast table Lucky began to speak.
“Guess what happened at the shop yesterday. There was this guy – the handsomest man I’ve come across in a long time. He said he was in the Import-Export business, and bought the entire stock of terenes we had.”
“Keep an eye on him,” Madam said with a smile, “Might prove a useful customer.”
Lucky smiled as she thought of Shashi.
‘Wouldn’t it be fun to have him as a customer…..”