The Pendulum

“Hello, is it Miss Archana?” Came the voice over the telephone.

“Yes. Who is this?” Replied Archana, a bit irritated at the interruption. There was much work to do, and she had calls of her own she had to make. Being a PR executive was not an easy task.

“This is Arshad here, ma’am.” The voice said, respectfully. “I am doing a story on rehabilitation of cancer patients and just wanted to ask you if your client would like to contribute.”

Archana stared at her screen in silent surprise for a moment. This was the same journalist who had many a time rudely turned down a story idea without ever listening it through. In fact, Arshad, being the Delhi-NCR healthcare editor of a top publication, was famous for treating PR personnel like dirt. Slow anger bubbled up in the pit of Archana’s stomach.

“You want inputs for an article on cancer rehabilitation?” She said, slowly.

“If it could be possible, ma’am.” The voice was almost pleading. “I have to make a submission in two hours, and haven’t found enough inputs or case studies. If only you would help me out…”

Archana wanted to laugh; no, she wanted to cackle like she’d seen evil witches do in fairytales. The tables had turned, and the mighty journo had come to befriend a humble PR executive. She wanted to ram every little slight, every bit of nastiness she’d ever received from Arshad and his ilk, down his throat. Blood pounded through her temple making it throb. She wanted to tell him off with a simple, firm no.

“We are no longer working with the client, so unfortunately we can’t contribute inputs for the story.” She replied, taking a deep breath to calm herself. Her wrath would have to find another outlet; she could not risk upsetting a healthcare journalist, especially since she had other clients in that beat. “However, if you’re doing a story on rehabilitative, non-invasive treatments, there is a client who would be willing to contribute stories.”

With a practised flow, she went on to describe what the client was all about, and story ideas they could contribute to. Arshad listened patiently, rarely interrupting. Archana felt a frission of thrill; Arshad had never listened to anyone in their PR organisation with such attention as far as she could remember.

“You know what,” Arshad replied, after a moment’s silence. “Let’s scrap the cancer waala thing. It’s been done too many times. Send me an email with a story and I’ll get it printed. Thanks a ton, Archana.”

Archana hung up the phone and smiled; she’d just converted an errant call into a premium, featured coverage for her client. Her gaze returned to the screen, where her neglected media list looked back at her accusingly.

“Shit!” She muttered and hurriedly dialled the first number on the list. “Hi sir, this is Archana calling on behalf of XYZ Healthcare. Would you be interested in a story idea?”

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