A Sorry I Owed The Little One
A Sorry I Owed The Little One3 mins 187 3 mins 187
I sat at the table dressed in a gray blazer, holding a green file containing a hand drafted Curriculum Vitae. I read the credentials which made no mention of academic accomplishments, yet spoke proudly of designations held over the last fifteen years. I was second in command in this institution. I had a voice. A voice that was valued, respected. I looked at the filled out forms again ‘My Strengths’ was the caption and oddly listed under aptitudes I caught sight of the most honest, the most touching, misfit words, ‘My daughter’. I turned to see the candidate I was to interview for the position of the matron and instead my eyes landed on the little toddler. Her blond locks, milky white complexion and eyes a shade of greenish gray was incongruent to her mother’s tanned freckles. The infant’s floral frock made her all the more adorable.
While my boss began to question the candidate, I discretely observed the woman, who though anxious remained composed. I noticed her sleeves were soiled, probably from the running nose of her daughter who sat there in playful bliss. She hadn’t any nail art and the blandness of her hands told me that her life was a struggle. There was no jewelry and her lipstick had unwillingly smudged itself onto the side of her right cheek, perhaps in a moment that found her cajoling her daughter’s impatience, for the interview had been delayed by a couple of hours. Her tone was not arrogant but was as confident as one’s who has already received an offer letter. “I’ll hire a full-time maid” she said, probably not even realizing how much of a pinch to her purse it would mean. She went on to say that she was a single parent and would do anything for her daughter and herself.
I sensed desperation. ‘A marriage in haste that was repented shortly after’ I surmised. When asked about how much remuneration she expected, she answered, ‘15 to 20 thousand’. I wondered how she was ever going to manage with that little money. My own story of about ten years ago seemed to have been lost in the progress of where I sat today. Out of the blue, I heard the faint sound of nursery rhymes. ‘Sorry’, she said and reached out to turn down the volume of her phone. All through the conversation, she shifted sight from the inquirer to the tiny girl. It seemed she did not want to take her eyes off her last ray of hope. The brief interview ended with the boss promising an expedited revert, and her saying, ‘Have a nice day.’ Which I heard all too well as, “Please Lord give me a chance. I need this job”. I smiled at them and mother and daughter left.
The boss turned to me and asked, ‘What do you think?’ And I answered in a tone knowing fully well what he wanted to hear. ‘The child’s too small.’ I walked out in abrupt silence wondering why was it that I could not get myself to speak for the woman. I felt deep gratitude for what I had, my wife, my children, and a job. ‘I should have’ thought I, ‘spoken in favour. If not for anything else, for the child whose future was uncertain because two individuals decided to call it quits.’ The many faces of students who were subjected by the trauma of their parents’ divorce and deprived of love from a parent came to mind. In the distance, down the corridor, I heard the infant mumble something to her mother, but I hadn’t the heart to turn around and tell her sorry. A sorry I felt I owed the little one for not giving her mamma a break.