The Road was noisy with a traffic jam and everyone crossed here and there making for their working places. Hansika rang the bell of the bus and got off quickly. Her handbag was not heavy and it was a beautiful one. She held it on her right shoulder meanwhile looking at the end of the road. She has worn a full cotton, purple and white colored sari. Although She was a short girl, she did not want to wear high heel shoes. She thought about only her comfort, and she wanted to live as a charm girl, relying on personality not fashion. As Hansika went along the concrete pavement, she was reminding herself of her daily plans with eyes downcast. When she was walking, she appeared like a duckling moving effortlessly on the water. She glanced at the ancient clock tower in the center of the city. “Oh 9 O’ clock? I am too late today,” she said to herself and began to walk more quickly. The wind flew through the city street and stirred up dust. Dry leaves and papers on the road were dragged to the pavement by the swirling eddies. Hansika’s sari was flapping and it disturbed her quick gait. A discarded shopping bag tried to fly with the wind for a distance.
Hansika entered the long corridor of an old building which was remodelled with modern decoration. She stopped in front of the lift and there were a few office workers waiting impatiently for it to come down. Before the lift arrived she heard the echoing voice of an old man behind her. He was relating more and more examples of lack of government service without stopping. Hansika turned back to look at the source of the commotion. The old man was wearing black trousers and a coat, he had gray and black colored hair and it was combed neatly. His beard was also of a gray and black colour, but his face was red from exertion. When he was explaining about something to another, his eyes were glistening with fervour and his forehead wrinkled, but there was nobody listening to his voluble words, because they only wanted to get to their branches as soon as possible. She identified him as a retired senior government employee, always ready to give advice, and to her this signaled her working day had begun.
When Hansika turned he looked her up and down critically. She was embarrassed with his looking. She got into the lift and the old man and others followed her. The door closed and it began going up. The arrow light showed the floor number and the bell rang floor by floor. Everybody in the lift was silent and looking at the door, absorbed in their own thoughts. Only the old man continued talking and complaining. After a moment he stopped and looked at Hansika with a sniggering air. He began to shout at her, “Very good.. very good …. verryyyyy good.., this is a nice time to come to the office to give services to poor people!” He thought Hansika was not a good employee for not getting to work on time. Everyone in the lift exited leaving her alone with his shouting. “Ting… ting……” Together they came to the 3rd floor and she opened the door of the lift to get off quickly but the old man also came out with her.
“Excuse me, I need to go to the Public Relations branch. Where is it? Could you please tell me?“ he asked now smilingly. Hansika was amazed and open-mouthed and could not say anything. She was feeling wet with sweat. “How can I say It is my branch” she thought”. Alright, come with me” she said with a pleasant face. Again the old man began to talk. “My dear daughter, please come to the office punctually, don’t waste people’s time.” Hansika took his valuable words to heart. They came to the branch and she asked him to sit down.
Suddenly the head of the branch came to the old man and recognizing him, gave welcome wishes. “My dear sir, how are you? Please come with me” The head of the branch was a very kind and attractive person. He worked hard for poor people in the country. Hansika not realizing the old man was known to her boss, was anxious again and couldn’t believe what was happening. She sat on her seat and drank a glass of water because she was feeling dry in her tongue and mouth. Although she tried to start her daily work, she couldn’t concentrate her mind and nothing was clear. She recalled the old man’s words again and again and hoped he wouldn’t report her to her boss.
After few minutes, the branch was quiet and only the sliding and clicking sound of the mice of the computers in the branch could be heard. She tried to clear her mind again and again because she had many works to do on that day. She began to finish her tasks one by one but couldn’t come to the end of her allotted duties. She was moving the curser here and there on the screen without a purpose. Then she heard footsteps through the branch which were coming towards her. She did not care about that and continued looking at the computer fixedly because she knew who was coming to meet her.
Thushara… known as “the man who passes the buck,” she thought. “ Hansika, how are you?” he asked with a smile. Thushara always passed his duties to others like passing a ball, and if someone did not agree with him, he told wrongdoings about them to the head of the branch. He was a tall boy with round eyes and a cunning look. His thin face with a long nose revealed to others his bad qualities. Although he tried to show his status by wearing expensive shirts, nobody accepted him as a good friend or a good person because he always tried put others in an uncomfortable situation by sneaking.
Hansika did not answer and looked at him directly asking, “Why are you here?” Again she tried to read something on the screen without paying attention to him. He continued smiling at her and asked “Do you have many works scheduled for today?”
“Yes, I have lots of works. Why are you asking that?” “Are you going to help me Thushara?” he now asked loudly. She was very unhappy about his presence but tried to control it. Again he bent to her table slowly.
“You have to do this work for me with in 24 hours” he said showing a file. “What? Within 24 hours? How dare you threaten me like that. These are not on my duty list. This is your duty, I know it,” Hansika said evenly without fear.
Thushara tried to convince her more, but she did not listen to him and returned to doing her work. He straightened up and looked at her for a few minutes directly. His face became a red color and his forehead wrinkled up with frustration. He stepped backward and withdrew the file while frowning at Hansika. His eye was glistening with anger and he rushed to the main door of the branch and exited slamming the door loudly.
“I never do others duty when they try to achieve it by force,” Hansika said to herself and smiled resolutely. There were a few friends in the branch who knowingly identified the reason for the loud sound of the door. Again the branch was quiet.
After few minutes the old man came out with the head of the branch and left with a pleasant smile while saying goodbye to all of the branch. He was very satisfied after advising the head, whom he regarded as his student.
Hansika recalled everything alternately in her mind, what happened with the old man and what happened with Thushara. She brought a cup of tea from the machine in the corner and savored it with satisfaction until she could see the bottom of the cup.
Author Notes: We have to deal with different people within a few minutes and it depends on our mindstate at the time, which if we do not exercise mindfulness, can cause us to misinterpret events. Although Hansika was angry with Thushara, he was actually in a sad situation due to a sister’s long-term illness, and had wanted time to go out to buy medicine for her. Hansika had found this out later when she met him at the Nestea vending machine, and that it was not an attempt at force, but a genuine request. She therefore resolved in future not to listen to office gossip and to form her own opinions based on fact.