Table Number 12

Table Number 12

“May I take your order, sir?” Shania took out her pen and notepad, and stood smiling. 

“You have a beautiful smile, err… Sha…nia,” Rakesh grinned while reading her name from the name tag attached on her blouse. His gaze lowered, making Shania uncomfortable. 

“Rakesh, she’s here to take our ‘order’. What say, man?” Amit guffawed.

Shania gritted her teeth.

“Not just smile, but your boo… I mean the bun on your head is also fabulous,” Rakesh hi-fived his friend.

Furious, Shania turned back to leave.

“Is she showing off her backside as well? Wow, what a structure, man! I wish I could have a bite of her just for a night,” Amit ogled lecherously.

“Sharing is caring, buddy. You have a bite. I’ll devour her fully,” Rakesh whispered, and they both cackled.

Shania approached her supervisor. 

“Sir, I can’t stand those insolent men seated at table number 12. Kindly arrange for someone else,” she requested. 

“Shania, you know we’re running short of servers in our restaurant,” the supervisor replied, his eyes glued to his laptop. “It’s alright. Don’t react. Just be polite.”

Shania couldn’t believe her ears. She couldn’t discern who was worse? But she needed the job badly. Her mother’s words ran in her mind. Never run away from problems.

Shania was back at table number 12.

“Ah, good to see you back, Shania,” Amit smirked.

“Sir, could you please place the order quickly? We have customers waiting,” Shania said as politely as she could, and she hated herself for that. 

“Oh, you have other customers as well?” he winked at Rakesh.

Shania got impatient. Rakesh quickly placed the order. His fingers ran through hers as he handed back the menu card. He rejoiced at her discomfort. 

“How do you stand them, Shania?” her co-worker asked. “I’d have slapped them hard.”

“I lost my previous job because of the same reason. Nobody cares for us. It’s always the girl’s fault, you see,” Shania sighed. “Anyway, my shift has ended. I’m off to my evening class.”

She changed her clothes and darted to the bus stop.

“Hey, do you need lift?”

Shania turned around. A car halted. Rakesh and Amit whistled.

“No, thanks. I like walking.”

“So do we.” Both of them alighted the car.

They walked on either sides and squeezed her.

“How much for one night? We know your job doesn’t pay you enough,” Amit leered.

Shania exhaled sharply.

“What makes you think that we low-income girls make money like that?” She spat out.

“Don’t act pricey. Come on,” Rakesh yanked her waist.

The next minute passed in a blur. Shania kicked Rakesh on his groin. He yelped and crouched in pain and incredulity. Like a punching bag, she punched Amit’s face multiple times. A tooth fell off and his nasal bridge cracked. Both of them writhed on the road crying in pain, while Shania strode to her karate class. She remembered her mother’s words- be your own saviour!
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Shilpa Keshav
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