“Sir, I am being framed. You know me for years now, you seriously believe I can do something this grotesque?”

Neha’s voice choked as she struggled her best to control herself. Her countenance showed a completely different panorama, her doe-shaped eyes glistening red, almost on the verge of tears, her brown hair ruffled and messy, her nose a bright scarlet. 25 years of her life, a bloody quarter centurion of her life she had devoted to this institution and is this what she deserved in the end? The label of a fraud?

Pretty much since her childhood, Neha had always wanted to be an accountant. Numbers fascinated her, exogenous amounts of calculations, which appalled her friends and classmates, served as a source of recreation for her. To give her dreams a touch of reality, she enrolled herself in B.Com honours in one of the finest colleges of her nation, even if that meant she had to live away from her hometown for three long years.

“But you can also study accountancy here, Neha…..Why do you need to travel to another end of the country?” Her offended mother tried to reason out with her.

But Neha was adamant. She was ambitious, she was determined and she was focused. If she desired to do something, she did it with all sincerity and motivation. No matter what came in her way, once she put a foot forward, she never stepped back. Ever……

Passing out of college, she went on to become a professional Chartered Accountant, after completing her 3 year article ship under a practising C.A. Offers flooded her but she decided to continue her career with a start-up company, Dreams Unlimited, directly under the guidance of Dr. Rajeev Shivdashani.

25 years had passed since then. Never in these 25 years had she been this much humiliated and dishonoured. She was ambitious and had often been labelled a go-getter but never had she been accused of treachery and theft.

All the problems of her life commenced with the arrival of her new boss, Mr. Ajitava Mukherjee. Her beautiful, secured life changed in a whiff. The reputation she had earned all these years had vamoosed into thin air and she felt betrayed and lost.

“There is nothing I can do about it, Neha. All the evidences are speaking against you. I am sorry, Neha.”

Dr. Shivdashani knew Neha was incapable of purloining money from the company’s accounts, but he had no other choice. If he took Neha’s side, Mr. Mukherjee would make his life more miserable than it already was. The management was tilted to the favour of Mukherjee, all because of his closeness to the owner of Dreams Unlimited. After all, Mukherjee had been married to his only daughter….

“You have only two options, Neha, Either resign by yourself, or by tomorrow you will be sacked, with a letter to cancel your C.A. license on the basis of your conduct. Not only that, you will be barred from working as an accountant in any other licensed firm. “, Mr. Mukherjee’s husky voice loomed in her ears. Neha was certain she could see a sly smile, cupping up Mukherjee’s lips. And why wouldn’t he be happy? He was successful in his endeavours, Neha was out of his avenue to the acme now….

Neha felt the world spinning around her. She excused herself from the board of members, who had gathered in the boardroom to decide her future and reached for her cubicle. How she wished she had not caught the misdeeds of Mukherjee, had not let him believe that she could prove to be a thorn in his pathway of success. What was she going to do now? Would she sacrifice her self-respect and stoop down in her own eyes, just to save her licence? She had not been brought up that way, she had always been taught to fight for what was right, at least what she felt was right.

No…..she decided, wiping away the drops of tears that were finally flowing down her cheek. She was not going to accept doing something she had no role in, even if that meant an end to her career.

A month had passed since she had been sacked from her office and her license had been cancelled. All the jobs that were now offered to her were below her dignity, or so as she felt. Day by day, she was growing more and more frustrated and depressed. She became cranky and shouted on her friends and cousins, who in turn distanced themselves from her. She had only one good friend left, who was now standing at her door.

“What??”

Neha shouted on him. “Nothing.”

Aritra smiled back. He knew how to deal with her best friend since schooldays.

He barged in through the main door, went straight to the bedroom and plonked himself on the bed.

“I have an offer for you. “

“What offer do you have for me? That I give tuitions on mathematics and accountancy to class 10 or class 12 students ? Or I learn programming languages, hone my statistical skills and join as a business analyst? I am a Chartered Accountant for God’s sake, that too, a country topper. I cannot do such petty jobs, it is beneath me. My career is screwed, Aritra.”

“No, it’s not. Do you remember you used to write excellent poetry and fiction in schools and colleges?”

“Are you nuts? What has this got to do with my life right now?”

“A lot. This is exactly my offer to me. The position of a content writer in my magazine and newspaper. Though the salary is not……..Neha?”

Aritra called out on her, as she barged out of the room and went into the kitchen.

“Are you listening to me, Neha? See you don’t have an option. This is the best opportunity you can get. I lobbied so hard for you, they don’t accept anyone without a proper degree. They agreed…….”

“Exactly my point.” Neha cut him short. “I don’t want your favours.”

“You have extreme ego issues, Neha. Why are you even taking this as a favour? Why can’t you take this as a golden opportunity in your life? Why can’t you take this as a new beginning to your life?”

Ten years have passed since then. Nothing has changed much, except that Neha’s hair has turned whiter over the years and she has matured into a calmer and more sincere lady. Today too Aritra is standing at her door. Instead of shouting on him, Neha hugged her tightly and whispered, “Thank you….”

If it hadn’t been for Aritra, her most dependable and trustworthy best-friend, if it hadn’t been for the grand break he had not given her years ago, she would never have known what her true calling was. She would never have realised what she wanted in life for herself, what she actually enjoyed doing the most. And what more a reward and honour for her hard-work than the most prestigious ‘Man Booker prize for Non-fiction.’

“Welcome, my friend, Welcome………such a big news…..are you going to make me stand here until the award reaches you? Don’t worry…They have already made an official announcement, they can’t change their minds now”, Aritra winked.

Neha smiled, her dimples prominent……….Life was good, after all!!

By Shreya Gangguly from India



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