The sun blazing atop our heads, cicadas humming, sweat precipitating. Summer was at its peak. I stood before the freshly painted building with only a sign showing ‘Staff needed. Now hiring’ with a telephone number below. It was the infamous sweets shop that was under construction near the station: Mithaas. And now finally completed. The opening was in just two days and all that was missing was the signboard and staff to work. Luckily for them, I was just looking for a job too.
“(So, this is the place where a wisher is?)” Dee, who had been impatient ever since I told him that I had a next target in mind, asked.
“(Not exactly,)” and I entered the building without waiting for his reply.
“(What? Then where is he?)” because explaining to him would’ve just been a hassle, ignoring him is what I did.
Inside was the smell of fresh paint lingering around. The visual setup was quite good. There were sweets based decorations and ornaments. The founder of the shop was an Indian man named Shakkar Raj Gupta. So, a lot of the sweets served here were a cross between Indian, Western and Japanese sweets. Also giving rise to some unique decoration choices. Like the dango shaped bell at the counter and barfi like boxes to put flyers in.
“May I ask what you are doing here?” as I was checking out the shop, a person appeared behind the counter silently and startled me. A slim face, French beard, neatly combed black hair and wearing a suit. His stare was rather on the aggressive side. Since the shop was still not open to the public, obviously he was a bit suspicious of me.
“Hello. I was here to interview for the job,” I explained my purpose for coming here.
“Did you have an appointment?”
“No,” he sighed at my answer.
“No wonder. I would’ve appreciated it if you would’ve called before coming for the interview. The shop is still not open so you can’t just come barging in,” to be fair he was right. They did put the number on the sign for a reason.
“My apologies,” he sighed once again as I bowed my head in apology.
“Well, now that you are here, come in.” he invited me into the staff area.
I followed him to the manager’s office as he casually went in and took a seat behind the desk.
“I am the Tokyo branch manager of Mithas, Zaigo Tsumihara,” he introduced himself. “Have a seat.” I took a seat on the couch. “State your name, age and occupation.”
“Negai Hoshino. 17. Student. 2nd year at Meimon Private Highschool.”
“You are a student. So, I believe you want to apply for a part time position.”
“That is correct.”
“But Meimon has quite the reputation for being a prestigious school. Surely a person capable of attending such a school would not need a part time job.”
Only two questions in and you could tell that he was top of his game. Normally, they don’t really care about the background of the school when choosing part time workers. But not only was he examining my background thoroughly, he had done his homework.
“Yes, but to be fair, it’s not my money going into my education. I have yet to stand up on my own feet and I believe taking small steps like a part time job is the right way,” I gave the best answer I could come up with.
“I admire your ideals. Very humble. But your studies are also an important part of your future career.”
“That is why I would like to work during summer break only.”
“Summer only?” he started thinking as was silent for a while. “As a new shop, we would prefer more long term employees though. Well we will think about it after we deem that you are fit for the job or not.”
“So, what position do you want to apply for? We at Mithaas provide fresh as well as packaged sweets with a suitable facility to dine in. Basically, we double as a bakery and a café. So, for part timers, we have the waiter, the cook and the worker position.” he gave me a rundown of my options.
“Definitely not a waiter,” was actually really my only condition. I was fine with any other work except that.
“That’s a shame. I felt that you would be quite good as one,” he showed slight disappointment. I honestly don’t know what he saw in me to say that.
“But I would like to go for a rather behind the scenes position.”
“So, a cook or worker. Do you have any experience making sweets?”
“Not really but I think I can get the knack of it. But as for machines I think I will be the best there.”
“Is that so?”
With that he stood up and signaled me to come with him. He took me to the kitchen first. There he asked me to arrange dishes in a tray and carry it. Then he asked me the names of different baking ingredients. As a person who doesn’t like sweets, I think I did well. Getting four out of ten was better than I thought. But as for kitchen utensils, obviously I knew them all.
“The bakery and café will be open from 8 A.M to 11 P.M. There will be three shifts, morning, noon and evening,” he explained as he gave me a general tour of the building.
Then he took me to the factory at the back. I thought that it was just another building behind the shop. Turned out it was part of the shop. It had a larger entrance at the back, where trucks could come in. The peculiar thing about it was that some machines were running and there were some people already working.
“As for the factory here, you can see it is already operating. That is because packaged goods are prepared beforehand and stored in the warehouse. As well as some ingredients required for the menu need to be processed before opening. That is why the working hours of the factory are different. They start from 4 in the morning to 10 at night.”
“I don’t think that is a problem for me. I would actually prefer working early in the morning and being free by the evening.” Considering my normal routine involved leaving for school at dawn, this would’ve been perfect.
“Is that so?” He showed me a machine and asked me if I could remember all of the buttons. And it was loaded with buttons. But if there was anything I had going for me, it was my brain. It was confusing at first but I managed to remember all of them on the spot. For how long will I remember them, who knows. But it was enough to last this interview.
We came back to the manager’s office.
“I have conducted your test. Now all you need to do is fill this application form,” he handed me a form. It was a pretty standard form and I filled it in five minutes.
“I have to say, that was pretty strict for just an interview,” I commented, passing him the filled form.
“Obviously. For a new company to rise to multinational status, there are some high standards to maintain,” he answered, while going over my form. “Good. This will do. We will contact you about your result. You may leave now.”
And with that, the interview was over. All I had to do now was wait. There were only two days till the opening, so there shouldn’t have been a long wait.
It was still noon. I could go home but then, I would miss the train that Myra took. Although she wouldn’t be worried about it, I was trying to stay as close to her as possible.
I wasn’t particularly hungry either. So, to pass my time, I went into a manga café. Why, you ask. Because whenever I am alone with no company, I can’t un-hear the annoying voices inside my head.
“(Could you now please tell me where the wisher is?)” is one such prime example. But I tried my best to ignore him until I checked into the café and got into my booth. Where I can talk to him without looking mental to the public.
“(*sigh* Why can’t you take a hint?)” I said after settling into the chair.
“(Oh please. You are the human here. It is your world and, hence, your duty to explain everything to me,)” after annoying me for hours, he still had the audacity to act smug. “(So, where is this wisher?)”
“(He isn’t here.)”
“(Huh? Then where is he?)”
“(He should be somewhere in India.)”
“(India. Isn’t that place really far? Are we going on that plane thing?)”
“(No, we are not going anywhere.)”
“(Then why the hell are we working if it isn’t to get on a plane.)”
“(Has it never occurred to you why someone anti-sweets like me is working in a sweets shop of all places?)”
“(Does it have to do something with the wisher?)” finally Dee showed signs of possessing intelligence.
“(Exactly. The wisher that we are looking for is Shakkar Raj Gupta. Owner of the multinational sweets company Mithaas.)”
“(So we have a big shot this time around.)” Dee was getting excited now. “(How exactly did you find out about him?)”
“(Weinstein may have been an exceptional idiot, but his actions were not unordinary. Most of the people would make at least some impactful wishes if they were given an opportunity. Especially if it was someone desperately praying for something.)”
“(And that is exactly the people we target.)” Dee told me the same thing when we first met. That he heard wishes to find a host for the wish game. That’s how he found me and probably the other wishers too.
“(So obviously, sooner or later, something unusual should have happened. And that is exactly what I was looking for during my stay at the hospital. And I found out about Mithaas. A name that was not even heard of just a month back. And now it is already a multinational company.)”
“(You think he used a wish?)”
“(One hundred and ten percent. The day that star fell and Weinstein’s case was solved, was the same day when, mysteriously, the Culinary Board went hidden talent hunting. And in no other place than India. It could’ve been dismissed as a coincidence, but such rapid growth is unheard of. He is definitely a wisher.)”
“(That is fine, but how do you know that it is him? It could be a family member too,)” I was honestly surprised to hear a smart question from Dee that I forgot how to talk for a moment. “(Hey? I asked something. Or is it also something I should have gotten on my own by now.)”
“(No. Ughm,)” I coughed to regain my composure, “(If he had not been a wisher, it would’ve been the other way around. His dish or his name should’ve reached the board. But it was the other way around because,”
“(He can’t make wishes involving him.)”
“(And that involvement is indirect by two steps. So, it can’t involve him or the dish that he made.)”
“(Haha. That is a wisher all right. Now, all we have to know is which Jinn is with him.)”
“(Does that really matter?)” Because the rules were the same for every wisher, it did not really matter which Jinn was with him.
“(Well, if we know what type of Jinn is with him, we basically know the personality of his partner and can predict his actions to some extent.)” he was right to some extent but honestly, that just felt pointless.
“(Oh right. Other Jinns are actually useful. I forgot that.)” I said that, but there were still some other things bothering me and Dee’s credibility was not really commendable. So, I decided to put it aside for the time being.
“(Either way, India is a developing third world country. Many times there is real talent rotting on the slum streets. If he wished for the board to just start a talent hunt, then he must’ve been really confident in his skills.)”
“(Yeah, you said the interview was tough too.)”
“(If he really is that into his work, then all we have to do is work hard in the two months of our employment. And sooner or later, we are bound to meet him.)”
“(You say that, but you haven’t even gotten the job.)”
“(True, but I think I will make it. I may not have been the best candidate, but I made sure to show off some of my skills that would probably be hard to find.)”
With that I turned to the manga I had taken.
That night I received a mail:
We are delighted to inform you that your application to work at Mithaas has been accepted. Work days start from June 20th. Your reporting time is 9 A.M sharp for the first day, i.e, the opening day. Further instructions about your duties and your shifts will be given when you arrive.
Manager, Mithaas,Tokyo, Japan