This is the concluding part of our story “When Payal Met Raj” which was published a day earlier on 13th November 2017.
“Hi, I am Payal Mehta. Today is my first day on the job.”
Putting up a forced smile, the woman replies, “Hello, I am Anupama. If I am not wrong, you joined as an assistant producer to this house`”
“Yes, that’s right. Can you do me a favor? Can you show me the way to Mr. Raj Khurana’s office? I think he is going to train me for a while.”
When Payal Reaches Raj’s Office
Hesitantly Anupama replies, “Umm…yeah… well, his office is on the third floor. Would you mind taking the stairs up since the lift is under maintenance at the current moment?”Payal agrees to do so humbly.
Once Payal reaches the third floor, she finds the cabin with the nameplate on the door, ‘Producer Raj Khurana’ written on it. For the last time, she nervously runs her fingers through hair to check if it is neat enough and tucks the remaining loose strands behinds her ears. She knocked the door and while entering the room she felt like her heart would explode inside out of nervousness. After all, she was going to meet the famous and the dynamic producer, Raj Khurana.
Their First Meeting was a Disaster
“And who are you, miss..?” Payal clears her throat and replies in stutters, “Hello, I… I am Payal….Payal Mehta and I are your diehard fan. I have watched all the movies you have produced and I even follow you on twitter.”
Furiously Raj screams at her, “Who let you inside the office? Where’s the security? Do you think my cabin is Mumbai’s Juhu beach where you can come and go and stroll around whenever you feel like?”
As soon as Payal realizes what she had blabbered out unintentionally, she says, “S…sorry sir….. I am Payal Mehta and….”
Raj Shouted at Payal
“I know, I know you are my diehard fan and have watched all the movies I have produced. So what? Get out of my cabin before I call security and arrest you.”
“……and I follow you on twitter….Oops! Sorry again…. I’m here for the job of assistant producer.”
Raj Asked Payal to Leave
Raj calms down and says, “Where’s your offer letter? Show me.” Payal takes the letter out of the folder and extends it towards him. Raj snatches the letter in a rude way. To Payal’s horror, he tears the appointment letter into pieces and throws every bit of it to Payal’s face. Before Payal could figure out what just happened, holding Payal’s hand, Raj takes her out of her cabin.
“Where the hell is the security? Who let this filthy intruder into our office?” Many other employees started gathering around, mainly male employees and Anupama. “You girl, have you seen your face in the mirror? Which background are you from? Assistant Producer, eh? Can you even spell the words ‘assistant’ and ‘producer’?”
Just then the HR and the executive producer, Srikant Sinha, who had recruited Payal, came hurriedly not knowing the situation. “I had warned you Srikant that I do not want to see another girl in my office for this new project. Do you think this movie is some kind of a joke to you and to all of us? Will this girl be able to do errands for me? If required, will she stay until late night and work in the office or anywhere outside? She is a girl for Christ’s sake! Do you think working for a production company is same as cooking biryani at home? I have already made a mistake hiring Anupama and very soon I am going to get rid of her. After all, this is a men’s world where even the darkness of the night cannot be a hurdle in our way success.”
“A-S-S-I-S-T-A-N-T P-R-O-D-U-C-E-R” Payal speaks out wiping her tears with her purple sleeve.
“What?” Raj turns towards her in surprise not understanding Payal’s words.
Payal Challenges Raj
“With all due respect, Mr.Raj Khurana, I am trying to spell the words ‘Assistant’ and ‘Producer’ as you asked me. Before coming to the office, I considered myself to be the luckiest one because I was going with someone I worshipped all my life. I was wrong to have given you that great position in my life. But I do not regret coming to this office or meeting you today. I never will. You seemed to be taking much pride of manhood and of your project”. Payal approaches closer to Raj. ”Let me tell you one thing, Mr. Raj Khurana, today I will prove you and your shameless male employees, who did nothing but to stood fixed and watched me get humiliated, that a girl can do much more than just cooking biryani at home. And I promise that with the full respect you will hand me another appointment letter with your signature below. Choose any three challenges of your choice and I’ll be ready to beat you.”
Raj Made Fun of Payal
Raj had tears of laughter in his eyes. “Yet another feminist. You girls never fail to surprise me. After all this, you still have the audacity to challenge me right inside my office. How can you stoop so low in order to become a wannabe? Alright, the battles will be… let me think…okay, word power, arm wrestling, and a complete wrestling. Well, I am not as ruthless as you think. I will arrange all the medical facilities for you. If I win, which is obvious, I will call cops and get you arrested Ms. Payal”
“And if I win,” says Payal “you’ll kneel in front of everyone and rub your nose at my and Anupama’s feet, lick those and wash only to drink the water” She could hear the loud murmurs around the corridor.
For a moment, this bit of act scared Payal a little, but she remembered her brother’s advice to be strong.
The first battle was the word power. Everybody got ready around the roundtable. Payal let Raj start the game. “Vulnerable” Raj said. “En masse” Payal shot up.
Raj was Baffled
“netiquette”. And so the game went on for another 30 minutes. Payal knew English vocabulary has always been her forte. And she was right. Raj was pretty exhausted and certainly ran out of words. He tried to seek help from others; Payal’s strong eyes glaring at him suppressed his urge to cheat.
Raj was still confident that he will win the arm wrestling and the complete wrestling because according to him these games were made for the men only. They held each other’s palm and placed their elbow on the same table. A referee was made to see if both the elbows were on the same plain. Raj showed his entire set of teeth and number of the local police station flashing on his iPhone screen to Payal. Payal gave a smirk as a reply to him and to everyone that she is not to be easily terrorized.
The referee rang a single bell from his Smartphone and both the players moved their shoulders closer to each other. At first, Raj was overpowering Payal with his strong arms. Payal’s elbow was about to slip. Noticing this Raj felt he can easily outwit Payal with mind games by hurting her self-confidence. “You know what, Ms. I-am-stronger, who will give a job after you have a criminal record or worse who will take your hand for marriage? Well, I can give you a proposal. After you come out of the jail, come to me. I might have a maid’s job for you then.” Payal answers in loud whispers enough to be heard across the room, “Let’s see who is the best fit for the maid’s job”, and turns her head towards the bottle of water placed just beside the flower pot.
Before Raj could have a fraction of second to look at the bottle, Payal knocks his hand down to the table. Horrified, Raj couldn’t think straight of how could get outwitted from that girl. He claimed for a rematch saying that Payal tried to divert his mind towards the bottle, but Payal proudly got out of the chair and walked away dividing the crowd apart.
Time for the final battle. Raj’s self-confidence was shaken by Payal badly. Since he had never seen a girl wrestling and getting herself dirty, there was still a fine ray of hope in his mind.
A mattress was summoned to be placed as they could not find any typical wrestling pit on the premises and therefore there’s no point of getting dirty in the mud. As they stepped onto the mattress, different emotions started reflecting in their eyes. Payal’s eyes had the hunger to win the challenge for her and for every other girl out there who were struggling to protect their identity in this harsh world.
And Raj eyes seemed to be nervously anticipating his shame and his throat was moving continuously like he is trying to swallow every bit of saliva in his mouth. Other employees had never seen something like this before. Even Anupama prayed for Payal under her breathe. They took each other hand in hand and tried to knock each other out in every way they can. When she was a kid, Payal had learned few techniques of wrestling from her brother, like locking the opponent’s hands and legs.
But Raj definitely was heavy to be knocked down on his entire back on the ground and Payal was not a professional wrestler. All she did was to pray the goddess of luck. Payal tactfully locked Raj’s feet, but before she could do anything to his hands, Raj forcefully put his right palm on Payal nose and mouth so as to get her suffocated. Finding no way to escape the devil’s clutch, she gave a hard elbow punch to Raj’s belly. Raj felt like Thor just hit his gut with a hammer. No sooner did he release Payal’s face, than Payal flipped him down to the mattress.
After getting defeated, Raj had no option but to surrender to Payal since Payal had deeply wounded the heroic stature and made his manhood spineless. Payal turns her head towards Anupama and sees the tears of joy in her eyes. As for the deal, Raj bows down to the feet of Payal and Anupama and rubs his nose at it. He brings a bottle of water and washes their feet and drinks it before everyone with tears in his eyes, not of laughter but of shame this time. Payal takes the bottle from his hand and hits him with it trying exactly not to injure his face. “Ahem! Are we all missing something? Where’s the paper in your hand with your signature on it?” Lastly, he signs another appointment letter for Payal and recruits her back as a trainee. He even apologizes Anupama for ill-treating her earlier that day and days before.
“Mr. Raj Khurana, I think your background has never taught you to respect a woman. It is a pity that the Indian public fails to see how ruthless you are to sabotage the women class and spend so much to buy your movie tickets. They live with a wrong idea, that since you cast top-rated celebrities to portray the female leads, you actually think of a woman the same way. You just care the awards and money.”
Payal Taught Raj a Lesson for Life
Payal gleefully came running out of the office with the offer letter in hand. She knew she achieved something more than the appointment and she wished her brother was there with her to share the trophy. “Congrats, my dearest sister.” Her brother appeared out of the blue. “What are you doing here outside my office?” asked Payal astonishingly. “I was always there with you, my little sister, even before my death.”Payal’s eyes were all wet and she knew how much she missed her elder brother, Pratik. He went on an adventurous trip, despite all the protests of her mother, never to come back home alive. Her brother was now ready going back to the world from where no one can return.
Before saying goodbye, he reminded Payal to remember how much maa loves her and being women, both of them are really strong, although their ideologies differ. And for the last time, they sang together “Because it makes me that much stronger, makes me work a little bit harder.”