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Home page > English > Short Story > Surprise, surprise… 

Thursday, 4.00 pm. Downtown Bombay





Hi! I’m Sumana. Sumana Naik. You know, your friend Rajesh gave me your number. So I’m calling you.

Tell me, what can I do for you?

I want to meet you. Will you be free today, in the evening, say 8.00 pm? Then I can meet you at Chembur.

But tell me why?

It will be a surprise. You will love the evening.

But how will I recognise you?

I will be in a T-shirt and midi skirt. My hair, I’ve ponytail. And yes, my husband will be with me.



Thursday, 8.00 pm. Chembur.

Hi! Are you Sunil? You may be expecting Sumana. Sorry, she couldn’t make it. She suddenly fell ill. I’m Prashant, he husband. We’ll talk. Where can we talk… let’s go to a beer bar round the corner? Come.

Let’s go.

I’ll have a Pepsi, Sunil you can have beer. So tell me about you.

Tell what?

Your job.

Am a journalist.

Your family.

Wife, mother, two brothers.


Books and boozing.

Like travelling?


Tell me, what will you do if you are given lots – yes I mean it, lots – of money, and you can travel all over the world.

Do what? With money? Buy more books. Drink more booze. Adopt a girl child. Then, let me see, feed stray dogs.

Well, then I can ensure you that you get lots of money. But don’t overspend.

Well, why should you me money? Are you sure you are not nuts?

You’re mistaken. I’m Prashant Naik. I work with Amway, an international direct marketing group. You know, I was like you once. Sitting opposite someone who gave me an offer like I am giving you now. I was in Malaysia. Doing well, thank you. When I realised that I can make a fortune – that is, if I could work really hard – I quit my job and set up base in India, in Bombay.

Prashant, I doubt I’d be of any help to you.

Of course you can, Sunil. These papers will give you an idea about how our organisation functions. You have to get at least ten people to our organisation once you become part of it. Hello! I think you’ve already become a part of us. Okay then, fill this form. Name. Qualifications. Date of birth. Then give me all your friends’ names and their telephone numbers. I think you have your telephone book with you. What’s the harm, give me as many as contacts you can. I’ll contact them, don’t worry, and will set up meetings with them like I did with you.

Phew! Is it all over now? Can I go home? I have already consumed two bottles of Kingfisher.

No, you have to attend a get-together this Saturday at Kalidas Kalamandir, Mulund. It’s in the evening. Lots of people are going to be there. From New Zealand, Malaysia, Australia, Sweden, the USA, Canada… You’ll love it. You will then get an idea how our organisation functions. The entry fee is Rs 500. You have money. No? Fine, I trust you, take the entry pass now, I’ll take the money from you when you come for the communion.

But tell me, what is this business all about?

You have to sell goods – household goods – to your friends.

Like what?

Perfume. Bathroom purifier.

Bathroom purifier?

Yes, bathroom purifier. It’s an Australian brand. Costs $5

But I have Odonil. It costs something like a mere Rs 20.

But you are selling our product to your friends. They would never say no if you insist. That’s how you make money, you know.

Let me think about it – whether I should join your outfit or not.

I’m sure that if you come to the communion, you will have no other option but to join us.

Let’s see.



Friday, 2.00 pm. Downtown Bombay.

Hello! Sunil?


Sumana here. Sorry, I couldn’t meet you. My husband was telling me what a wonderful person you are. I missed you, dear. I hope I will meet you tomorrow at Mulund. After the function we will go out for dinner. We’ll have a nice evening.

Hopefully. I’m not sure whether I can make it. I’ll try me level best, nevertheless.

Bye. Take care.


Monday, 3.00 pm. Downtown Bombay.

Hello Sunil. Sumana again.

Sorry, I couldn’t come to Mulund.

It’s okay. There is another communion tomorrow, on Tuesday. I will be there. You know, I’m dying to meet you. Shall I come over to your office now?

My pleasure.


Monday, 3.00 pm. Downtown Bombay.

Hi Sunil, Sumana couldn’t make it. So I thought I’d come and meet you and your office friends. Can’t you introduce them to me?

What happened to Sumana?

She felt giddy, all of a sudden, you know. So she rushed home.

Prashant, I have to tell you something. I think I wouldn’t be able to be part of ‘our’ noble organization that you said would make me rich. I don’t want to be rich. But, since you have taken lots of trouble by calling me and calling on me, I can perhaps – that I have to check with my editor – write about you organization in my paper.

No! No! No! Never. Never do that. We want complete secrecy, er, our organisation works on individual trust. No publicity of any kind, please, it can only hamper our company’s prospects.


Wednesday, 3.00 pm. Downtown Bombay.

Hello! Sumana here. Pity we never met. Can I come over now?

Sorry, you can’t.

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