You are currently viewing Swag Gifts

Swag Gifts

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


This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    An interesting premise and the end was unexpected. One thing that wasn’t clear to me was what was Mrs. D’s angle with that gesture? It was a very realistic tale of tradition vs. modern- I totally get the ‘cut the picture cake’- it’s a discussion /debate we have with our elders including blowing ‘out’ the candles.
    Punctuation needs to be reviewed. Salvesh/Salvesh.
    Also good to separate dialogues into new paras.

  2. Avatar

    An interesting premise and the end was unexpected. One thing that wasn’t clear to me was what was Mrs. D’s angle with that gesture? It was a very realistic tale of tradition vs. modern- I totally get the ‘cut the picture cake’- it’s a discussion /debate we have with our elders including blowing ‘out’ the candles.
    Punctuation needs to be reviewed. Salvesh/sarvesh.
    Also good to separate dialogues into new paras.

  3. Avatar
    Ratna Prabha

    Aww! Such a heartwarming tale! I can see a new romance story between Dogra and Soni brewing in your mind! Kudos!

  4. Avatar
    Sudha Viswanath

    A lovely gesture by Mrs. D on the second anniversary of Mr. Soni’s venture. But why did she do that? Was it she who send the intern?
    It was a different take on the prompt and lot of things are relatable to elders like me.

  5. Avatar

    The unexpected warm gesture from Mrs. Dogra was heartwarming. I was not sure who to bat for – Mr Soni who rose from humble backgrounds by dint of hardwork but with a patriarchal attitude (he looks down upon a business run by a woman) or Mrs Dograv who names her business Mrs Dogra and Daughters (loved this) but with a patronizing and a hint of an elitist attitude. Mrs Dogras behavior was also uncharacteristic, going by what we know of her this far. Then again, that could be because of our own deep set biases?
    Rate this 7/10.

  6. Avatar
    Amrita Sarkar

    This was a funny and sweet-bitter story. I liked the theme and concept and the refreshing take on the prompt. I like how the characters have been charted out. The stoic and old school Mr. Soni is as opposed to the shrewd Mrs. Dogra. The narrative showed promise of an enticing tale. I feel the story curve could have had a little more surprises and twists. My only issue was that it was a linear and predictable narrative. The ending plot twist was commendable. I will rate the story 6.5/10

  7. Avatar

    Now y does Soni strike me as ‘Suraj Badjatia’?
    The story needed tighter edits. Salvesh Bhai becomes Sarvesh Bhai in some places. Laxmi pooja is mentioned twice, sounds wee bit repetitive. Why would Dogra go to all the trouble? After all in business, it is dog eats dog. The story was a tad too farfetched for me.
    My rating 6/10

  8. Avatar

    This was a very different story… the end was so unexpected…. my rating 7/10

  9. Avatar

    A very good premise of the clash of modern and traditional stuffs. But the story lacked coherence. A flow and fluency was missing and that made it a drag. I had go back and forth to understand who is who and what’s exactly happening.
    Nevertheless, a good one. And, the ending does take a reader by surprise.
    Rating 6.5

  10. Avatar

    The story started with a lot of expectations but in between the names jumbled up and the ending was somewhat predictable. Tighter editing would’ve been better. 6

  11. Avatar
    Moonmoon Chowdhury

    A lovely take on the prompt. Mr. Soni and Mrs. Dogra seemed life-like. The ending came as a pleasant surprise and was heartwarming. My rating 8.2 /10

  12. Avatar
    Lakshmi Menon

    An interesting take on the prompt. The twist was unexpected.

    Rating 7/10

  13. Avatar
    Dakshata Kudanekar

    A breezy read with quiet unexpected climax. Though, the story became little confusing mid way to me . But overall, a different take on the prompt. Rating: 7.5/10

  14. Avatar

    A calsh of the modern and traditional depicted well. But somehow, Mr. Soni doesn’t make me root for him in spote of all his problems. Nor do we see enough of Mrs. Dogra to understand her motives. A generous action on her part nonetheless.

    A tighter editing required.

    My rating: 6.5/10

  15. Avatar
    Ashvani Sachdev

    The conflict between Mr Soni and Mrs Dogra is palpable through the narration and the ending — a surprise one — leaves the reader wondering about whether there is a missing backstory. Or what? Nonetheless, the reader is led to empathise with Mr Soni’s optimism in the midst of his rather gloomy circumstances. The ending is unexpected. 8/10

Leave a Reply