Most days, these two worked till around 8. In between breaks, Nilukshi found me and we chat about various things. She has a brother of my age and she said sometimes she missed her family. However she seems to be happy working here and liked Hashini a lot. Sometimes they look more like friends rather than office workers. I felt more and more the need to find something to keep me employed. I went through daily papers and applied any position that seems to catch my attention. But none came through. One day I got a message from Jerome to see him in the evening. That evening we went to Galle-face green and found bench near Hemantha. We got serviced with two steaming kadala packets as we settle in.
‘What’s the occasion Hemantha? Were you able to sell any paintings?’ I asked.
‘It’s a long story. The first time I bought paintings; it rained and ruined them all. So next day, I wrapped them in polyethylene covers, but then no one could see the pictures clearly. So I displayed few unwrapped and kept the rest securely water-proofed. My sister takes few days to complete a picture, so I have to take care of them’ he said without taking a breath.
It’s seems he was waiting for us to tell this story.
‘So did anyone buy pictures from you’ I was impatient to know.
‘Not really, most people were just looking at them and said they looked nice. My sister said in the evening where there is not much day light, it is difficult to see the real colors and fine details on the picture. But if I come here mid-day, there is hardly anyone to look at them. So I was about to give up the idea one day. The last day I had pictures displayed; there was this guy who spent lot of time going through each of them. I was wondering and thought at last I found a real customer. He said he was a curator of art gallery in Colombo and would like to meet my sister. Next day, me and my sister went to see him and he was impressed with her work right away. He said some of Colombo’s high end retail stores buy art-work from his studio and asked my sister if she wants to work with him. Now my sister earns more than me and her pictures are sold in many places in Colombo’ Hemantha was proud when he said the last sentence.
‘Well done Hemantha’ we both said at the same time.
‘Thank you again. Without you two, none of this would have happened’ he said.
‘It’s your sister’s talent and your determination brought you success. We just gave you an idea’ I said.
‘So what is this special news that you can’t tell me at home’ I asked Jerome.
‘You know the Z TV Channel. I have highly placed contacts with them through our advertising firm. Since you are looking for jobs, I’ve told them to keep an eye for any new opening in finance department. Today my friend called me and said they have a vacancy for an assistant finance manager. This Friday is the interview. I will recommend you through my friend so you’ll have a better chance of securing this job. This is a good company to work for Randi’
Finally something is happening in my life, I said to myself. That day when I came home, I told Hashini about this.
‘Do you want me to find out who’s’ going to be interviewing you’ she wanted to help me.
‘No, it’s okay. I think Jerome has already recommended me enough. I don’t want to make this a huge deal for them’ I said.
‘That is true. Anyway, we also have two openings in finance department of one of our companies. So if some your friends looking for finance job, let me know. I will give them the first opportunity. But we need this positioned filled quickly as possible. Otherwise we have to advertise in the newspapers, she said.
When Friday came, I was nervous. My interview starts at 11.30 in the morning and I have to go to Alexandra Place. That morning, Hashini prepared mike rice for me as a sign of good luck. Sometimes I wonder how she is able to keep a tab of small detail like this. Jerome has sent me a text wishing me good luck. Without him, I would be lost by now I thought. By the time I came to Alexandra Place it was 10.45. I signed my name at the reception and went upstairs where interviews are held. There were two guys seated before me. Since I have nothing to do between now and 11.30, I thought of engaging them for a chat.
‘I guess you are here for the interview as well’ I started with the obvious.
First they didn’t seem to show any interest in chatting with me. But after some time, one of them replied.
‘Yes we are’ he said.
‘Do you know each other’ I asked. It was just a guess.
‘Yes we do. Both of us graduated from J’pura University and went to the same interviews for past 6 months. Nothing has worked so far. Don’t have lot of hope on this one either. But we just cannot stay home and do nothing’ he said in a resentful voice.
‘By the way, I am Sanjaya and this is my friend Nimesh’
‘I am Randika’
We talked about various things until they were called for the interview. I told them to wait for me after their interview because I have something important to talk about. It was my time to go in. There were three people on the interview panel. Left corner, an older person and in the middle a handsome one and at the right side, a guy around my age. I greeted them and was asked to be seated. When I was taking my seat, the older guy whispered something to person in the middle. He nodded. Those two seems to have my personal data file and the youngest one was just smiling at me. He looked innocent. The guy in the middle started introducing the panel members.
‘This is Mr, Sunil Hettigoda. He is our director of finance he pointed to the older person. I am Danushka Udugama and I am the manager of finance here. And to my left, Thiwanka Munweera. He is our graphic designer and he works closely with the finance team. So we thought it would be good to have him at the interview panel. So tell us about your-self’ he said at last.
I have practiced few times what to answer to this question. It is so lame that everyone has ready- made answer for this question. So I just parroted what I have practiced the day before. To my surprise, the interview lasted only few minutes. The guys before me spent almost half an hour inside. I was getting nervous and it didn’t help a bit when I noticed Mr. Hettigoda was about to leave. He took Thiwanka with him and now it just me and Danushka left in the room. That’s the first time I looked at Dhanushka and I started assessing him. He must be around 27 years. He has an imposing figure, most likely played contact sport like Rugby at school or club. His deep black, penetrating eyes and thick eyebrows made me somewhat unsettling. This man is full of masculinity. But for some strange reason, his looks and mannerism seems familiar to me. Like, I’ve known him for long time. Without saying anything, he looked at me with his piercing eyes. This is awkward I thought. Finally he broke the silence.
‘Okay, let’s get into the real business here’ he said.
I have no idea what he is about to say next.
‘Both you and I know that you came here highly recommended. Many people came before you had better qualifications than you. Unfortunately for them, they don’t have the highly placed connections like you have. So as far as I am concerned this interview is a big farce’
I felt like throwing up. What did I get into myself, I cursed. But I need this job and I need to speak up to clear things up with Danushka.
‘I am sorry to put you in this situation, Danushka and I know you are doing me a big favor by giving this opportunity to me. But I need this job as anyone else who came here and I am determined to prove that you made the right choice’ I said.
‘Choice….What choice I have here? I don’t have any. Just before you came in, I got a call from our CEO and he told me to hire you for the position. That was the choice we were given’ He was visibly angry.
But underneath his anger, I saw a troubled person. He is not angry because he has to hire me. There seems to be something else going on with his life. This is just his reaction to what is happening behind the screen. But this is no time to dig those wounds. I need to calm the situation.
‘I clearly see your situation now. What is the probation period of this job’ I asked.
‘Three months’ he said.
‘So if I sign an agreement saying that if you are not happy with my performance after three months, I will resign. That should solve your problem, right? Then you can tell CEO that you gave me job but I didn’t like it and resigned’ I suggested.
He was taken back with what I suggested. It seems he never thought I would say such a daring thing. His mood changed slowly.
‘That seems like a fair deal, anyways let’s hope you like it here and stay with us. I hate training new people and seeing them leave soon after’ he said calmly.
Finally he stood-up and gave his hand.
‘Welcome to Z TV Randika’ he said in firm voice.
I felt his firm grip as we shake hands. I was asked to report to Danushka Monday morning.
I found Sanjaya and Nimesh waiting for me when I came out of the building. Immediately, I felt guilty when I saw them. I just robbed your job, I wanted to tell them. But that would not help any of us. Instead I took them to the nearest Perera & Sons for some refreshment. While we are eating, I told them about the finance position that Hashini told me the other day. I asked them to email their application to me and said I will do all I can to find them a suitable job. They were so thankful to me but that was not sufficient to take away my guilty mind. They left me to catch the train to Anuradapura. They are so far away from the home. I text Jerome.
‘Got the job. Hugz’
Part 7 next
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