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The Customer

     In a small town in a corner of this world, a tea stall run by a couple could hardly meet their ends for a living. The tea shop owners, Shankar and his wife serve tea to a customer who questions them, “Shankar, how is your shop running?” Shankar, known among his friends and neighbours for his practical and down to earth nature, replied in a subtle tone, “It is going good…struggling…but doing pretty well.” After a while, the customer goes away. Shankar’s wife, Neelakshi, always has an argument regarding their shop with her husband and they always have a difference in opinion. She yells at her husband in a complaining voice, “You always remain calm and do not even answer back to what people like the customer commented just now. The customer laughed at our condition and to you specially.” He did not even react to it and explained her to make her understand and said, “Why do you take it in that way? We hardly get customers and if we behave with customers in your way, we have to shut down our shops. Do you want that? I hope not. Don’t get hyper.”

     After a couple of days, Neelakshi woke up a bit early from her usual time of 5 a.m. in the morning. She opens the tea shop and after an hour finds a customerin front of their shop. “Please come in. What can we serve you?” asked Neelakshi. The customer replied, “I want tea and an omelette.” She enters the kitchen to make tea and omelette. After a while, Shankar enters the kitchen and tells Neelakshi, ” After quite sometime, we have a customer and that too early in the morning. He seems to be new to the place. He has two bags along with him. A young chap.” His wife quickly replies, “Who cares? We have a customer, so we will get money. Don’t think much. Pray that we get more customers today.” Shankar serves the customer and finds out that the new customer is in search of a job in the town and will be staying somewhere near their tea shop. Shankar gets an opportunity to make him a permanent customer and questions the customer, “If in case, you want arrangements for food, we can provide you food from our shop – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. You may personally come in our shop for evening tea and snacks. Please do not worry about the delivery charges, its free home delivery. Please let us know if you are interested. By the way, may I know your name?” The young customer replied, “Yes, of course. I would like to take your services and my name is Manish.” After saying this, Manish leaves the shop.

     Since then till a month, Manish kept visiting the tea shop and Shankar-Neelakshi’s business turns out into a slightly good business than before. But vanity enters in both  Shankar and Neelakshi’s lives which casts a cloud of pride in them especially Neelakshi. One fine afternoon, when their shop is filled with customers , Manish drops in at their shop. Neelakshi arrogantly utters, “It is already full and you are single. We do not serve singles. It is better if you come in groups.” Manish is surprised to see Neelakshi talk to him in a rude way. This scene makes a few other customers to watch the commotion. Manish walks away. Shankar comes to know about it later and he had a dual of argument that same day with his wife. Shankar spoke to Neelakshi angrily, “Why did you behave with Manish in that way? He is not just our permanent customer but someone whom we know very well. We had developed a good relation with him. You should not have let him walk away.” Neelakshi argued, “He came alone and the shop was filled with customers and we cannot serve and entertain only one customer.” Shankar continued, “Is that the reason why? It is not a matter if a single customer or a big bunch of customers come. I had told you a thousand times before not to have such kind of a mindset. This kind of a conduct from your side can effect our other customers as well. We are well-known in this locality. It is not you who is talking to me, it is your vanity, it is your pride which is speaking on behalf of you. I don’t think so Manish is going to return. If I would have been in his place, I would have never returned. There was a time when we had nothing much with us but struggle. When we have gained a reputation today, you are trying to ruin it through your pride. It is disgusting.” There was silence between the husband and wife. Neelakshi was still adamant and did not give any heed to it. She instead emphasized on proceeding forward in life instead of worrying about a single customer. She argues with her husband to be true to his nature, to be practical as he is as they have to go forward in life.

     After a couple of months went by, it seemed Shankar’s outburst on his wife taught her a lesson. Their past struggling life returned back in their lives with hardly a few customers in their shop. Proud goes before a fall. With the increase of many other tea shops and small restaurants nearby, Shankar and Neelakshi are hardly able to draw customers. In this process, she learns how to maintain and develop good relations with customers and how to render services in a better way. She gradually realises her mistakes and one fine morning, she finds a young customer with bags hanging on his shoulder. She remembers Manish. She told the new customer, “Please come in. What would you like to have?” The young customer said, “I would like to have tea and…ahh…” Neelakshi interrupted, “Try omelette with tea.” “That would be perfect,” said the young customer. “I am serving you in a minute, ” spoke Neelakshi. Shankar becomes happy for his wife and he witnesses Neelakshi’s encounter with a customer and that too a different woman.

     From here, they started growing their business, their life and their struggle.   

        

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