Snehal opened her wardrobe; she glanced at her dresses, hung on a steel bar. A pale brown mixed white T-shirt and blue jeans caught her eye. She took out and put them on.
Standing in front of the large mirror, she combed her messy hair and tied it into a long entwined braid.
A new batch of C++ subject would begin this morning. Snehal didn’t want to be late and upset the new students.
She applied a red gloss on her lips and enhanced her eyes with mascara. When she rubbed the talcum powder on her face, the jasmine smell hit her nostrils.
Her elongated, oblong face looked beautiful. The prominent long nose and large black eyes stood out from the rest of her facial features. She tucked a small jasmine garland in her hair and then went to the living room.
The clatter of containers being opened filtered through the kitchen wall. Is the mother preparing breakfast? Eating breakfast would make her late.
She went to the kitchen and approached her mother. “Good morning, Mum.” She hugged her from behind.
Deepali closed the container. “I’ve put the idlis batter in the skillet. It will be ready in ten minutes.”
“No, Mum. I need to go now.” Snehal glanced at her watch. “I’m already late.”
Her mother turned around. “How can you teach without food in your stomach? Have something before you go.” She opened the refrigerator and took out a container. “Have some milk, at least.” She poured it in a glass and gave it to Snehal.
Snehal drank the milk in silence while her mother gazed at her.
Her mother took a deep breath. “What have you decided about Ranjit?”
Snehal stopped gulping the milk. She couldn’t control the itch in her throat. She coughed. She hadn’t expected her mother to bring up her marital matter. She handed the glass back with leftover milk in it.
“Please, Mum.” Snehal grabbed a paper napkin from the top of the refrigerator. She wiped her lips. “I haven’t thought about it. Give me some more time. She threw the hanky into a bin. “I need to go now.”
“You must make your decision soon, Snehal. Your father has been insisting I ask you.”
“I’ll tell you very soon.” She walked out of her home.
Mum spoiled my mood by asking about my decision. I don’t understand why dad is so stubborn. Is he under pressure from his friend?
She shivered in the cold breeze as it swept down upon her. She dusted off her scooter, pressed the ignition button, and headed down the main street.
An aged man, wearing a sweater and a wooden cap drove his scooter past her. A city bus carried the passengers and a few youngsters stood on its footboards, chitchatting. Snehal slowed her scooter to let the school children cross the road at zebra crossings.
At her institution, her glance shifted to one of the classrooms. A few students sat there, waiting for Snehal. She went to the receptionist and they exchanged greetings.
“I see only a few students.” Snehal sat on a chair. “You told me twenty-five candidates are registered. Where are the others? It’s quarter past nine.”
“They may arrive late, Madam,” the receptionist said.
“If they don’t turn up, call and remind them.”
“Sure, I will.”
Snehal went to her class and told about herself to the students. She told them to introduce themselves before she taught the class.
After she finished teaching, she asked why the remaining students haven’t turned up. The students said some would attend tomorrow and some had gone to other institutions because of the lesser course price.
Snehal adjourned the class and walked out. Her boss was seated in his office, talking over the phone. Snehal went and sat across from him.
Her boss smiled at her while he spoke and ended his call. He adjusted his light blue spectacles. A dimple formed in his fair cheek while he continued staring at Snehal. His pale yellow checkered shirt matched his wheat-colored complexion.
They both exchanged small talk before Snehal said, “Did you notice the number of students in the class?”
“Yes, I did.” He held a paperweight and moved it round in a circle. “I had anticipated this situation in the last semester.”
“What are we going to do about it?” Snehal leaned forward.
“We need to advertise and market so that students become aware of our institution.”
“We may have to distribute the pamphlets like we did last year,” Snehal added.
Her boss nodded.
Snehal received only forty percent of the fees collected as her payment. She had insisted her boss increase it by another ten to fifteen percent.
“What have you decided about my pay percentage?” Snehal licked her lips. She Smiled.
Her boss leaned back and clasped his hands. He shifted his gaze away from her.
“The business is getting competitive, Snehal. You already know students are interested in fewer fees.” He stared at Snehal seemingly not wanting to lose her. “I’ll definitely hike the pay percentage if we make more profits next year.”
“I hope you don’t disappoint me,” Snehal said.
“I will try not to.” He heaved a sigh of relief. “I have other plans to attract students.”
“We need to undergo a teacher’s training program at Bangalore. We should upgrade our standards of teaching. Also, I need to introduce the high level packaged courses, like Java and .net.”
She smiled at her boss with admiration.
She arrived at her home. Her mother wore a dark green Mysore silk sari with a gold border. Her wide and fair forehead was adorned with a red vermilion. A gold chain on her neck glittered in the daylight streaming through the window.
Snehal told her mom she would eat something, and then went to her room. The dress she wore weighed heavily on her. She chose to wear a light night dress – white with blue mixed – and then freshened herself before she went to the dining room.