Flight of the Flamingo (extract_2)


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Flight of the Flamingo, the first title in the Beyond Pink series, takes a look at the real dilemmas of urban women who choose to follow their gut, using their talents and career options to design a life they can be proud of.

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Flight of the Flamingo (extract_2)

  1. 1. 14 Go to office on Monday morning, present Ashish with the book, apologize to him for going behind his back, assure him that the book was not in public circulation and then throw myself on his mercy. It sounded like a perfectly reasonable plan. No fireworks, no drama, no surprises. At nine a.m. the plan was intact, five minutes later it had collapsed. The intercom rang just as I had unloaded my bag from my shoulders and was slinging it on the back of my chair. Halfway through this act, I grabbed the ringing instrument, almost overturning in the process of balancing myself, the chair and the telephone. ‘Come to my office,’ said Asshole in his broadest Haryanvi accent. Later I knew I had followed his summons like an unsuspecting sheep going to slaughter, but at that moment I was being utterly natural when I sauntered into his office. There was still time to go for our weekly gabfest, as Neha put it so elegantly, so my mind, in addition to the problem of Dangerous, was reviewing all the manuscripts on my desk, and which ones to put in the ‘out tray’. In contrast to my cluttered desk, as always, Ashish’s was empty, except for one object, the shiny new Dangerous, with its elegant ochre cover. It caught my eye as soon as I entered. I froze in the doorway, and for a moment everything in the room, the desk and chairs, the wall of bestseller covers, the billowing curtains on the
  2. 2. Flight of the Flamingo / 247 windows, the accessories on the polished desk, Ashish himself, faded out of my vision. Only the book remained, its image hammering on my eyes until I thought they’d start bleeding. I felt I was in the middle of some CIA plot, a smoke and mirrors world where nothing was as it seemed. How had the book landed on Ashish’s table? Only Sonia, Prakash and I had the book in our possession. ‘Where did you get this?’ I whispered. ‘Congratulations, Preeta. You’ve set a record. The only editor in the whole world who self-publishes while working for another publisher. What the hell were you thinking of? Whose bright idea was this?’ ‘I can explain.’ ‘I don’t want to hear any explanation, thanks. When I’d said Dangerous wasn’t happening under Pradhan, that was meant for you as well. Why were you doing this . . . this cloak-and-dagger stuff? It’s just a bloody book, a pretty salacious one, if I’m right. Why did you turn it into some sort of damn mission?’ ‘Look Ashish, I . . .’ I stared at Ashish’s closed, fleshy face and shut my mouth. No explanation that I offered would carry any weight with this man. If we were dealing in facts, there was only one fact, that Pradhan had rejected a book that I had then, while working at Pradhan, proceeded to publish. That was all. It was enough. ‘You’ll have to leave, of course. That’s the only way your name can be associated with this book. Otherwise we’ll be the laughing stock of the publishing world. I’m sure you had your reasons for what you did. I don’t understand them, but it doesn’t matter. How much time do you need to clear your desk? You can hand over all pending manuscripts to me. All of them. I hope you can do that?’ I knew what Ashish was implying, that I would help myself to some of the literary gems that had come to Pradhan. He flattered himself. There was nothing on my desk worth stealing. Except Dangerous. ‘Of course.’