On his way to his office, he swerved by the tiny shop where he once spent hours cooking.
“I’m not going back. Things will work out, with God’s grace.” He reassured himself.
He reached the elevator and there she stood.
“Good morning, Mr. Soni.” A woman in a silk saree eagerly smiled.
“Mrs. Dogra.” He curtly nodded.
“I’m so busy with the wedding season. Your earlier customer…what’s his name?… Raisingla”
“Rajiv Raisinghania” he corrected. “The one you stole from me.”
“Oh, don’t be a child. He is happy with our personalized photo lamps. It’s the perfect swag, unlike your metal things.”
“The metal things are silver spoons and coins. They are auspicious.” He preached..
People rushed inside the elevator. Mr. Soni offered the remaining space to Mrs. Dogra.
“Being left behind is becoming a habit of yours. Careful.” The door closed in front of her devilish smirk.
Mr. Soni proceeded to the stairs. “Left behind” He scoffed. “Everything was going great till Dogra and Daughters came along with their Swag Gifts. Isn’t it offensive gifting soap to someone and a bag of leaves, she calls potpourri?” He marched on. “ Imagine piercing a knife through your child’s photo on the cake and eating it. How ridiculous. This is what happens when women do business.” He grumbled.
On reaching his office, he wiped his forehead with his handkerchief. Yet again, there she stood.
“Mr. Soni, you’re breaking into a sweat in winter. Business is that bad?”
“What do you want, Mrs. Dogra? “
“My letter has been sent to your office, again. It won’t take long. Well, not that you have anything else to do.”
He pointed to a pile of letters on the front desk and lit the lamp in front of Goddess Lakshmi’s idol. With folded hands, he let out a tired sigh.
Salvesh Bhai, her client, was waiting for her in the corridor like most mornings. The two started to have an animated discussion.
“Sir.” A tall man in spectacles anxiously approached Mr. Soni in his cabin.
“Shastri, I know what you are going to say about our accounts. But things will work out, with God’s grace.”
“The pile of bank notices is increasing. We need to make the changes sooner than we thought. If we downsize and..“
“Shastri, I know you mean well but we are not downsizing.” He dabbed his forehead with his handkerchief. “When I served fresh sweets to customers, I could see their eyes sparkle with joy. Gifting brings joy. That’s why I started Soni and Sons. This is my dream. I will visit our good clients. Some even came for our first-anniversary celebration.”
“Sir, speaking of the anniversary, we cannot plan a celebration this year. I’ll arrange some sweets. No gifts.”
“But gifting is what we do.” Mr. Soni interjected.
“No gifts,” Shastri instructed.
Mr. Soni took his accountant’s advice. From his cabin, Mr. Soni watched his employees. They were a small, but loyal bunch, except the one who accepted an offer from Dogra and Daughters.
“We cannot tell anyone yet.” Mr. Soni insisted.
Escaping their curious eyes, he slipped away.
Mr. Soni was fondly welcomed by his clients. He remembered the names of their children, wedding dates, and birthdays. He was able to manage a few small deals and referrals. But it was not nearly enough.
“What about them?” Mr. Shastri tilted his head towards Dogra and Daughter’s eloquent office. “We can catch some of their clients.”
“Shastri, stealing from a woman?”
A young man was waiting for them at their office.
“I’m here for the internship.”
Shatri and Mr. Soni looked blankly at him.
“I just finished my Digital Marketing diploma.”
“Can you help get us some orders from the internet, quickly?” Shastri asked.
He hesitatingly nodded.
“Come, I will show you your seat. There are snacks and coffee in the pantry. Oh, and we don’t pay interns with money but with valuable experience.” Shastri explained.
“How did we just get an intern from nowhere?” Mr. Soni folded his hands and said a quick prayer. He looked at his team and noticed their suppressed giggles. “Maybe the team arranged it, by God’s grace.”
The intern was no magician and it took days for new inquiries to come in. More sales on the internet needed more marketing budgets which Shastri just couldn’t scrape out.
The next morning, Mr. Soni passed his earlier sweet shop.
“At least I tried before I failed.” He consoled himself.
When he reached his office Salvesh Bhai was waiting at the door.
“Mrs. Dogra isn’t there?” Mr. Soni asked.
“She is but she directed me to you. Apparently, Dogra and Daughters are focusing on their swag and not on sweets. She told me you used to own a sweetshop.”
“Yes, come in. Just one minute.” He lit the lamp in front of Goddess Lakshmi and quickly folded his hands.
“So, what’s the occasion?”
“Occasion?” Sarvesh Bhai chuckled. “I’m an event planner. I have a line-up of ceremonies, weddings and corporate gifting to be done. Why don’t you arrange some tea and breakfast?”
Mr. Soni did as told.
“I will come every day to discuss in detail. You see, I don’t have my office. I make my phone calls and visit customers. Other times I can be here.” He looked around. “Are the samosas coming soon?”
Mr. Soni forced a smile.
Suddenly, there was a loud shriek followed by excited chatter. Everyone carried a small box of chocolates and a sparkling silver coin with the engraving ‘S&S 2nd Anniversary’. Their eyes sparkled except for Shastri’s. His eyes were furious.
“Thank you, Sir.” An employee said. “We suspected that something was going on. Nice surprise.”
Mr. Soni’s gift came with a card.
Dear Soni and Sons,
Happy 2nd Anniversary. We hope the intern, new client, and coins bring you all good luck. You need it.
Swag Gifts by Dogra and Daughters