The name “NB Software Solutions” was brightly visible on the wall. Srinivas smiled at it and gave a shrug as he entered the office. He looked at his watch as he sat down on the chair behind his desk. It showed 9 a.m. “Perfect,” he said to himself.
He dialed a number on his phone and said, “Hello Murthy garu. I did not get your quotation so far. My M.D., Brijeshwar sir needs all quotations by 10 a.m. today.”
He paused and then said, “Look, it is the question of the quality of food in our cafeteria. You should know how well Brijeshwar garu takes care of his employees. Employee welfare is his number one value. He is particularly keen to have good food served in the cafeteria for all employees. I know you are a good caterer. And if you miss this chance, you will lose a golden opportunity to make it big in the catering market.”
He listened for a moment and said, “Well, please email it in the next few minutes. I will take the printouts and give it to Brijeshwar garu.” Srinivas put the phone down and opened his laptop to start his work.
The owner of the company, Brijeshwar entered the office and walked towards his cabin. He looked at Srinivas and with a broad and friendly smile said, “Good Morning.”
“Good Morning,” Srinivas said.
After a few minutes, Srinivas entered Brijeshwar’s cabin. Brijeshwar was looking engrossed at his laptop.
“Sir, I could get the quotation from Ruchira caterers just now. With this we have all three quotations required as per our vendor and purchase process,” Srinivas said and gave a bunch of papers to Brijeshwar.
Brijeshwar took the papers and said, “These are fine. Please call for the purchase committee meeting tomorrow, so that we can finalize the vendor.”
“Sure, sir,” Srinivas said.
“One quick point. I have completed your annual performance review and you will be getting a promotion and a salary rise.”
“Oh wonderful, thanks a lot,” Srinivas said. His face glowed with happiness and pride.
“I am proud that despite your personal tragedy, you have gone beyond it. And are focusing on your job and performing really well,” Brijeshwar said.
“Thank you, sir. It’s all your kindness, that I got this job and you have taken real care of me,” Srinivas said.
“No, giving a job is a very small thing I did. The bigger matter is that you work really hard and give innovative ideas. I am happy that you are steadily building your accomplishments,” Brijeshwar said.
“Yes sir. I will continue to put in both hard work and smart work, as a key to my success,” Srinivas said.
“Do you want to know anything more about the annual review?” Brijeshwar asked with a friendly smile.
“About the annual performance review, no sir. I will wait for your letter. But I have a question about my function.”
Brijeshwar leaned forward with a mild quizzical look.
“That cupboard in the corner. As administration manager, I have access to all cupboards and shelves, except for that one. Why sir?” Srinivas asked.
“Hmm. That’s personal. I will only say this. It has the secrets of my success and that’s personal. Somehow, I don’t want to share it,” Brijeshwar said. “I will hand over your promotion letter to you later in the afternoon.”
“Ok sir,” said Srinivas and went out of the cabin.
On that day, his younger sister, who had worn a blue dress, told him, “Annayya, I am going to the store to get some groceries.”
“It’s getting dark, should I come with you?” Srinivas had asked.
“I am not a small girl, and I will be back soon,” she had said.
“Be very careful, amma. After our parents death, you are the only family member I have.”
She had smiled.
The smile was still vivid in his memory till date. His sister never returned.
Srinivas wiped his eyes.
The clock was showing 4 p.m.
Brijeshwar approached Srinivas at his desk and handed him an envelope. He said, “Here, Srinivas, is your promotion letter.”
Srinivas took the envelope with a smile. He opened it, took the letter out of the envelope, unfolded it and read. Immediately his smile broadened and his entire face glowed with happiness.
“How is the work happening today?” Brijeshwar asked.
“No issues sir. Work is going on smoothly,” Srinivas said. He continued, “I always wanted to know this. Our company’s name is N.B. Software Limited. What does N.B. stand for?”
“They stand for the phrase Na Bhootho Na Bhavishyathi,” Brijeshwar said.
“But in that phrase NB appear twice.”
“I know. With one NB itself, I am achieving tremendous success. I don’t need twice,” Brijeshwar said.
Though Srinivas did not really understand the exact meaning of what Brijeshwar said, he nodded as though he understood.
“Sir, I will be leaving now for the day, please give me permission to go early,” Srinivas said.
“Oh, no problem. Go celebrate,” Brijeshwar said and went back to his cabin.
The phone was ringing and Brijeshwar lifted it.
The voice in the phone was a rough one. “Congratulations, I heard you got a new project.”
“Yes, that’s right. Thanks,” Brijeshwar said.
“What would your turnover this year be?”
Brijeshwar had a proud smile on his face. “500 crores,” he said.
The voice in the phone had an appreciative tone. “Zero to 500 crores in three years. That’s quite good. Didn’t I tell the value of a young and beautiful life?”
“Yeah, first I had doubts, then I trusted you. I am reaping the benefits now,” said Brijeshwar. He continued, “Well, there will be a grand party soon, you should definitely come.”
“Definitely I will come.”
Outside Brijeshwar’s cabin, Srinivas shutdown his laptop and got up to leave for the day with a contented smile. He had his envelope in his hand and kissed it.
Inside the cabin, Brijeshwar got up and reached for the cupboard in the corner.
The room was dimly lit and there were long shadows. He took a key from his pocket and turned it in the cupboard lock.
He opened the door and removed a girl’s blue dress. There were bloodstains on it. He stared it for a couple of minutes and images of the past were flashing in his mind. He put the dress back in the cupboard.
There was a small writing board on the almirah. He took the board in his left hand and wrote with a marker NB = Nara Bali*. His face glowered with an evil scowl.
* Human Sacrifice
(Based on an adaptation of the core concept from a Telugu short story “Thoorupu Kommalu” by Dr. Vempalli Gangadhar)