Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Backhand

Suchi stepped into the manager's cabin. She was the manager now! She would sit on the manager's seat.

A small smile lit up her face. It had been a tough year, but she had worked - oh how she had worked to reach here.

She sat down and swiveled gently. In the heart of her hearts, she knew that all her hard work could have been bypassed if it hadn't been for Priya. She sighed - Priya! She closed her eyes for a minute and thanked lord. He had tested her and she had proved her worth, thanks to Priya. If it hadn't been for Priya, her work would have gone unnoticed. Priya, her classmate from college, her junior at work, the woman who hated her. The woman because of whom Suchi had been made the manager with a good hike.

Suchi remembered the day she had entered the office to get her offer letter and had found Priya already there, an offer letter in hand. On seeing Suchi, Priya had hung on. That day had set the tone for their relationship at work.

"Hey, nice to see you here!" Priya greeted her. "I am joining here as the executive assistant. You too?"

Suchi was dismayed to see Priya here. Even during their college days, they had not shared a great rapport, each preferring her own group. It was an intrinsic dislike not founded on any strong basis but strengthened by the events over the next three years. Minor things, nothing much to write home about... But still ranklers.

"How come you are here?" Suchi sidestepped Priya's question.

"Oh, I did company secretaryship. But I am not keen on a career in that so when I saw this advertisement, I thought I will give it a shot. What about you?"

"I did my post grad in marketing and worked with a product marketing company for three years," Suchi said, hoping that this would indicate to Priya her seniority at work.

"So you are joining as EA here?" Priya demanded again. The smile did not soften the question in any way.

Suchi shook her head. "As Assistant Manager." She didn't want to add that Priya would be reporting to her.

Priya's eyes indicated her displeasure though the lips continued to smile. Suchi made good her escape. She joined a week later and found Priya working furiously. She stepped in to meet her manager who welcomed her warmly. As she was leaving after the formality, he paused and said, "I would have preferred if you hadn't discussed your role and salary with Priya."

Suchi looked at him in surprise. "She cornered me... Any problem?"

"Yes, she didn't take it well because you both are the same age. But you have experience, and we expect that to be of value. Please don't discuss your salary or role with anyone unnecessarily." The hunted look in his face suggested that Priya was giving him a tough time. Suchi could guess, from past experience, that it wouldn't be easy for him to handle her. She wondered if she was prepared for it either.

She discovered, as the months progressed, that she wasn't. Priya was an untiring source of venom, poured out within the hearing of all colleagues. Suchi hesitated to put her foot down. When Priya was slack, she stepped in to complete the tasks.

Her manager called her one day, clearly tired. Suchi could smell Priya's perfume in the room and guessed that she had here just before Suchi was called. The hunted look on  his face - she recognised it as a symptom of having been grilled. Why did he put up with it! "Suchi... I know you are an efficient worker. But Priya feels you are upstaging her. Why don't you give her space to finish her tasks?"

Suchi's eyebrows shot up in shock. "But, if I do that, then I end up working late and in the early hours wrapping up after her! She believes in waiting till the last minute to finish what can be done earlier."

"Yes, yes!" he replied hastily. "But she feels she is not getting the exposure."

Suchi shrugged and left. She tried playing it Priya's way. But Priya's tendency to take every break and stretch them was really getting on her nerves. Not getting her boss's support was depressing. She withdrew to herself and focused on getting her tasks done quickly, so that she was able to look beyond her work and take on other things. She tried to ignore the dead weight on her feet. But every crisis that Priya faced, she had to find a solution. She became good at anticipating them. She was surprised when a colleague named her "Smart Solution Suchi"! She glowed at the compliment.

A small reward was when her seniors - especially the Senior Manager - from the head office called her specifically when they needed a job done - sometimes even bypassing her manager, who didn't seem to mind.

This, of course, didn't go down well with Priya. When Suchi made a trip to the HO for a meeting and returned, rumours about how - specifically how - Suchi had the senior manager in her pocket spread. Suchi was shocked. She had an uphill task reestablishing her reputation. She was viewed as fire now... Yes, that is what she became. Not easy to approach. Whatever the view others had about her and the senior manager, she saw respect for her work and for her as a person.

That was all she could do. She could do nothing more about speculation.


And here she was, unexpectedly the manager of the branch office. She realised that it was because Priya complained so much about her - Suchi - taking all the initiatives, unwittingly advertising Suchi's work that the management had decided on this move instead of bringing a person from the HO. Her manager had as good as told her that. Otherwise, at 26, how could she hope to handle so much responsibility!

Yes, now she knew why it was said - forgive thy enemy. She made sure she included Priya in her prayers, for without her, she would never have been able to talk of her achievements. Priya had done it for her when complaining to others. After Priya left in a huff because of Suchi's promotion, Suchi could forgive her, and enjoy the relief of finally finding the peace she sought at work.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Wall Post to Kapil Sibal

Dear Sibalji
You fear that seditious content on the Facebook can cause riots?

But then, anti corruption slogans have not made one whit of a difference in our politicians! Why do you think it will change the balance between the different sections of the society?

Aah! You have greater faith in people's sensitivity to comments than that of politicians? That makes better sense, of course! But we would like to see some effect on the thick skins of the politicians as well! Maybe you can get them to read the posts online, if it really is so powerful?

Hoping for the winds of change...

An FB user. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Empty, Drifting

Like a vein cut
body drained
of all the blood

Words poured out
in one long flow
as if there is no tomorrow

The mind tired
empty, needing rest
devoid of all thoughts

The computer
a constant companion
Now averse to touch

Saturated, brimming
bed beckoning
to give rest to thinking

To be, just to be
lazy and drifting
in a world of fantasy.
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