Saturday, May 27, 2017


Sheela typed away seriously on her computer, compiling the report about the latest project she was working on. At every stage, there had been delays, hurdles they had to overcome, unexpected calamities that created situations needing fire-fighting, resource crunch... a zillion other things. But the team had worked hard, overcoming each hurdle and ready to face the next... Finally, when the project was ready, the customer had delayed implementing it up due to some team churn at their end.

While she felt euphoric, she also wondered if all the sweat had been worth it. Now, as she typed out the details, of course there was pride. But there was also wonder. Are deadlines really worth it? This was not the first time that the client, after putting pressure, had become slack. Or, having implemented, they failed to use it effectively. Or even if they did use it well, they rarely acknowledged the development team...

She paused mid-way. What was she slogging so much for? The money?

That evening, after reaching home, she went through her bank balance, investments, did a rough estimate of the family expenses and pursed her lips thoughtfully.

"Penny for your thoughts," her husband of 21 years said.

"No, please!" Sheela exclaimed. "Give me a kiss or a hug, instead..."

Prakash laughed. "Is someone in a romantic mood?" he teased.

"No, pensive... I think we are living all wrong."

"Yes?" he asked surprised. He looked around in mock assessment of their surroundings. "Looks good to me! What more do you want?"

"No, no... I didn't say we don't have enough. I think we have too much but enjoy too little!"

"Ah, my modern thinking woman, you have been bitten by the minimalist bug. But dear, you are the one who wanted all this!"

"Yes, and I have enjoyed them. But I think we are wasting our lives."

"We are?" Prakash's eyes widened as he basked in the A/C room on soft mattress with the woman he loved after having a sumptuous meal. He liked his Toyota, and the club membership...

But Sheela, who could be persuasive when she was convinced, worked on Prakash over the next few months, showing how they barely had time to 'live'. "All we are doing is chasing 'dead'lines! We meet one project goal and then the next one comes. I am getting fed up..."

"But we are doing so well... You are not complaining about that, are you?"

She reached for his paunch and said, "And growing in all places..." He grabbed her hand, but she slipped away with a teasing smile.

It was hard not to be convinced. While on the one hand, he did love the luxury and the comforts work and career growth brought with it, slowly Sheela made him examine his life more closely. There seemed to be no time for anything except the commute and work.

But if there were no work, what would be left of his life? "Why can't I balance rest of the things with work?" he asked innocently.

"You?" she asked contemptuously as she went about aligning her life for the big change she had decided to make. "You don't lose balance when walking," she needled him about his increasing weight.

"You know I don't have time to exercise..." he grimaced. "You don't have to rub it in!"

She shrugged. "Your call," and left for a jog.

He tried balancing. But as she relaxed at home after quitting her job, pursuing her hobby of music and cooking while balancing it with some consultancy work to continue to earn albeit only partly, he did start wondering about his life. The result of that self-assessment did not make him feel good.

He expressed his concerns - children's education, their marriage, health concerns... She seemed to have worked it all out. "OK, then I am going to resign... Don't blame me if we have to live hand to mouth."

She just laughed. "Have you thought what you will do?"

He had. Now that the bug to quit had bitten him hard, he decided that at least for a year, his focus would be on enjoying life. He had experience and expertise. He could always get the kind of work he liked.

Within a week of being relieved, he told her how he was going to spend his retired life "My first goal is to lose 10 kgs in six months," he declared and told her how. "Next is to..." And he enumerated his plans.

Eyes wide, jaw open, Sheela watched her husband making his forceful presentation on the roadmap for the coming year. The only thing lacking was a PPT to support him.

Much to his puzzlement, she burst out laughing.  He may have come out of the corporate world, but the corporate thinking still held him in its clutches. For now, with health as his primary agenda, she didn't mind. But she hoped that he will learn to relax as time went by... So long as he didn't dump KRAs on her head!

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