Sujit Balan was a man in his early forties. He had the stern and experienced look of a man who has seen a lot in life which weren’t all agreeable in nature. The contemptuous disdain betrayed the fact that he was serious about his business or the work that he had in his hand which was his lifeline and oxygen that sustained him. He set about executing his tasks with the agonizing grimness and meticulous precision of a surgeon who sets about amputating an arm where gangrene has set in. He picked up his blackberry phone without further deliberation which lay on the table beside his laptop. Carrying out the simplest of tasks with an air of affected gravity like solving the most difficult of arithmetical problems was an art he had picked up from his long association with the organization he worked for. He punched the name of a small time company which didn’t have their name registered as a placement agency but still supplied them with a constant flow of manpower. With a very gritty network that they had formed with the type of people who were equipped to serve their purposes he never had problems of getting what he wanted or rather his patrons desired.
“Hello Sudesh, do me a favor. Could you please supply me with some manpower for the branch we plan to open in Kolkata,” he said without furnishing unnecessary platitudes.” I need not go through the formalities as you are well aware of the deal that had been made between us,” he said with marked adept authoritativeness.
“Of course Mr. Balan. When would you require them?” he proclaimed with a flicker of expectation of raking in a few mullahs deserting his tone. “As always,” Sujit said in doctored affinity. “I’ll send you the specific details by email tomorrow. Thank you and goodbye “, he left saying.
Well into his late thirties, Sudesh showed no signs of settling down. His younger brother was an engineer who worked for an Indian multinational company and his sister, a doctor, were both married and living busy lives. Usually timid by nature he sometimes got involved in occasional brawls when under alcohol and it was in these times that Santosh came to his rescue. He then acted as his friend, confidante, guide and most loyal servant. He was a couple of years younger to him and was a plain looking man with a protruding tummy which had grown larger after his marriage.
Sudesh arrived a few hours earlier than he normally did next day. “Morning Santosh,” he said. “Please keep a constant check on our company email address. We have an important assignment coming in today,” he told him as soon as he spotted him entering the office carrying a small Rexene bag which contained his tiffin box.
“Good morning, Sir,” he greeted back. “Yes, most certainly I will,” he said walking briskly towards his table.
Santosh never referred to Sudesh by his name or by any other endearments in office in order not only to maintain his official dignity or position but also because he was his provider. As part of his daily ritual which he performed with a lot of dexterity, he picked up two incense sticks from a packet he had kept in his drawer, lit them up and holding them in a V-like formation twirled them around the idol of Ganesh and the photograph of Ma Kali that adorned the wall of his chamber chanting aloud, “Om”. He proceeded towards the pantry where on top of a refrigerator in an intricately carved wooden throne were found clay idols of Radha Krishna and Gopal all bedecked with finery, ornaments and flowers. Within moments the pantry filled up with the scent of sandalwood and chants of “Om”. He went around the entire office in a similar fashion as if to sanctify it and seek blessings of a prosperous, bright and successful future for the company. Sudesh craved for a lavish and extravagant lifestyle but didn’t possess the zeal, interest nor the patience to perform such religious rituals although secretly in his heart he feared the presence of a spiritual power which might thwart his great ambitions. So, although he encouraged religious festivity he never directly engaged in them.
At precisely one o’clock in the afternoon Santosh found an email in the company id addressed to Sudesh sent by Mr. Sujit Balan. It read:-
We are glad to inform you that we are satisfied with the kind of results we have received from you till date in providing us with requisite manpower for our various assignments and in filling up certain vacancies in our organization in the due course of two years of our association. With expectation of such similar results we approach you again. As discussed we would like you to provide us with a female candidate who would be serving in the due course of time as our Eastern Regional Manager and be responsible for managing our entire business functions in the East. Kindly note with utmost importance the prerequisites of the candidate:
- A graduate or a post graduate with a few years of varied work experiences and especially a certain knowledge of the technicalities of our industry. If she doesn’t happen to possess the required knowledge or experience in our area of functionality, please train and polish her adequately.
- Foremost she must be presentable and possessing a sound personality.
- She must belong to a good and educated family background and be articulate enough as she is not only required to look after our business interests in the east but is also needed to interact with our topmost brass and take proper care of them. So a certain level of exposure is highly required from her so that she can adapt herself freely in such circles. Again, we would like to stress the fact that it is mandatory that she must possess good upbringing. In case of other short comings, please do the needful to bridge the gap.
- Carry out a thorough investigation and please provide us with required information about the candidate before recommending her to us.
Hoping to hear from you soon.
RCB Technologies Ltd.
Rakesh Gulati, Jayant Parikar and Tusshar Pramod were the joint founders of RCB Technologies which was established twenty-five years ago. As three bright and successful Indian engineers working for Microsoft Inc.in Silicon Valley ,USA they had everything going for them; a very enterprising and promising career, fat pay- packs and greater future prospects in the organization. They were three distinctively different people with different characteristic traits; enjoying diverse interests but what bound them together strongly as friends and family was a foreboding feeling of homesickness and the fact that they were inhabiting foreign lands which would never accept them wholeheartedly as their own. In the late evening hours after work they would gather with drinks in hand planning their future escape from drudgery and a life full of decadence. As soon as the project they were working on was complete, they travelled home to India on a furlough never to return back to the organization.
Since its inception the company had grown steadily with an annual turnover which had crossed 30,000 crores of rupees.
“We need to publish an advertisement this Wednesday in the ‘Times of India’ seeking a counsellor for our institute. Let me get the contents of the insertion ready and in the meanwhile call up Ashutosh (the local advertisement agent and dealer for the newspaper) and tell him to meet me today around 7p.m.,” Sudesh instructed Santosh. Sensing that it was a serious assignment which would fetch them a good sum of money, Santosh set about his task with alacrity.
Sukanya Majumder was leafing through the daily newspaper when she glanced upon the advertisement and felt that this particular opening would suit her as the institute was located nearby and thus would also enable her to save a lot in terms of energy, time and money.
“Stop fidgeting,” Sukanya said to herself as she broke into a cold sweat seated inside a hall which was packed with men and women waiting for their turns to be interviewed. She had turned twenty-one and had completed her graduation. Her father, a prominent lawyer in Calcutta High Court had wanted her to pursue her studies further.
“What is the need of looking for a job now? Do your masters and if you secure the appropriate grade you can go for your doctorate or if not opt for a B.Ed. degree,” he argued.
“Teaching is the best profession for a lady,” he had professed like a typical Bengali father who was protective about her daughter’s future.
“No Baba, teaching is not meant for me as it requires a lot of patience and I don’t think I possess that quality,” she had countered back.
She had always fancied working in a concern as an executive which seemed more dynamic to her then; wholly different from the humdrum of being burdened by listless textbooks and copies.
She eventually landed the job of a counsellor for Sigma InfoTech which she took up in spite of her parent’s and best friend Maya’s disapproval. “Why are you wasting your potential, kid? Is this any job for you, my dear? Come on Sukanya lets complete our masters after which we can venture out together in the market,” she had protested.
Sukanya was adamant. She didn’t feel the necessity to further her education. “What’s the need for a masters when I won’t pursue a career in academics, “she quizzed. “The earlier you join a job the more of exposure and practical experience you gain which ultimately helps you to reach heights in your career,” she reasoned. In back of her mind she wished to be economically independent and have an identity of her own apart from being a daughter, sister, mother or future wife. Those were the days when she nurtured high ambitions in life; was passionate and rearing to fly like a bird. She thought that the job was small but was good enough platform to start her career and get an initial feel of the work environment. IT was a booming industry and held huge future scope for growth. She knew nothing about the industry and very little knowledge about computers. This was a major scope for her to get acquainted with this lucrative world. If it didn’t suit her she could anyway leave the job and search for greener pastures. It seemed silly for her then to forsake something which came to her so easily.
Her father, Srinjoy was perturbed and annoyed but thought it futile to refute his daughter because it would only create trouble and bad air.
He felt that the only way to relieve himself of his tension was to get his daughter settled in life. As he drew nearer to his friend’s Kedarnath’s house he thought of ways of approaching a sensitive issue. Her daughter was no ‘Urvashi’ but she was reasonably good looking with a childlike effervescence and simplicity which endeared her to everyone. There was no need for him to feel humbled, he thought. He gathered courage in the fact that both his friend and his family held tender feelings for her and were old family friends. This also harbored a feeling of uneasiness that a special bond between them might be shaken if things turned out not as expected. With such opposing thoughts fleeting through his mind he entered Kedarnath’s house.
“What a pleasant surprise. So good to see you,” greeted his friend cheerfully. They sat over cups of tea and snacks discussing trivialities when finally Srinjoy brought up the subject.
“How is Dhruva now? When will we get to meet our young fellow?” he asked.
“Oh, he is doing well,” said his proud father. “He will be spending two more years in Delhi and then wishes to shift to Kolkata. He is already on his job of trying to influence his next posting here. He will be here on a short vacation next month then we can all meet up. What say?” he added.
“That sounds great”, he replied expectantly. “How about a cozy family outing together on a weekend,” he said enthusiastically. “Why not? What do you think of our plan Ratna?” queried Kedarnath looking at his wife who sat nearby. Ratna smiled nodding.
He left it at that feeling that it wouldn’t be wise to carry on further until Dhruva arrived .He had recently retired as a senior railway officer. His job had entailed various outstation postings; his last leg bringing him to his hometown. Sohini, his daughter who was studying engineering shared a good rapport with Sukanya. Whenever Sukanaya came visiting with her parents both friends would spend hours discussing their lives, interests and future. It was from there that she subconsciously harnessed a fascination for technology.
Hours at office were long and taxing. She learnt more with each day. This was a new field and she was keen to explore it and know more. She never toiled so hard for her degree as she did at office and her infinite passion made her a workaholic.
“Hey Arunava, Could you teach me?”, she asked her colleague one day with whom she had developed a comradeship. She pestered the faculties whenever they were free with barrages of question; treated them outside as well as with homemade preparations that she brought with a lot of care. Her quest for knowledge was strong and ambitions high.
Dhruva, a tall and handsome guy with a very pleasant demeanor arrived home as announced before. Kedarnath arranged for their family picnic 40kms away from Kolkata at a serene get away from the bustling city. The farmhouse was situated beside a rivulet; had well-maintained lawns which spread out like lush green carpet; its boundaries decked with numerous colorful flower plants; intermittent shelters with tables and chairs for visitors to lounge and enjoy the picturesque setting. Sukanya and Dhruva knew each other from childhood. Dhruva, an engaging conversationalist asked, “How is everything going for you,Sukanya?” “Quite good, I have recently joined an institute and am occupied most of the day,” she replied. “Yes, it’s important to be engaged in something,” he said. They got talking about trivialities and Sohini also joined in. Both Srinjoy and his wife were happy to see them thus engrossed. He thought of approaching his friend tomorrow regarding his daughter’s hand in marriage to Dhruva.
“Sukanya , Manjari, Rita you have to attend an educational fair next week. All of you must be present in our stall between 10a.m. to, 7p.m.counselling prospective students for admission in our courses,” said Arup their Centre Manager authoritatively. The entire week was spent arranging for pamphlets, brochures and banners. It was hectic but they were enthused. On the day of the fair the girls were there on time busy putting up banners, posters and sorting out the various brochures and leaflets on the tables laid out before them. The huge hall was lined up with numerous stalls occupied by varied educational institutes and there were kiosks selling refreshments. As the day progressed the footfalls increased and amidst the hurly-burly they were able to sell quite a few brochures. Sukanya was happy with the outcome but they were all tired as the day ended. The coming four days were filled with activity and the end resulted with the accumulation of a huge number of enquiries which they followed up assiduously. Thus she learned the nitty-gritty of her occupation.
After three years one day, one of Sunkaya’s friend informed her about an advertisement published in a reputed daily newspaper seeking a Centre Manager for their well-known institute. She thought why not apply for the post as she had by now gained enough experience these last few years. Within a month’s time she was called for the interview at RCB Technologies Ltd. After her interview was over the interviewer said to her, ” If you are selected we will inform you in due course of time.” Her interview had gone well and she was hopefully glad. She never fathomed what lay for her in the near future.
At the onset, a five day training programme was arranged for the selected candidates. After the intensive training was over they had to join for work. She was expectant and went about her task diligently. She was selected as the Centre Manager and there were other girls who worked as counsellors and there were the technical faculties who were all men.
” Sujit,” said Rakesh Gulati, “Bring Sukanya here to look after us as soon as possible. She needs to be promoted as our future Eastern Regional Manager and for that she needs to undergo a Masters in Business Administration. Tell the other girls to follow suit as they are to be made our Territory Managers. Sujit tried to insinuate her in various ways to compromise but she was clueless as to what was happening to her. She worked earnestly but that was not what was expected. This was something entirely new to her. A year passed and she was totally involved in her job. The upper brass were annoyed with her delay in entertaining them. It hurt their ego. They were tough professionals and ordered Sujit to get a replacement for her instead.
Seema was hired and trained by the corporate office to become the Eastern Regional Manager .She was lesser than her in every way other than pride and arrogance and was so boastful about her previous accomplishments that she made some of the most outrageous comments which made her truly pompous. She knew she was given the most coveted post on basis of the fact she had pleased the authorities and she had no previous contributions to the company from its inception. She served her a notice which read:
You are well aware of what you have done so you are asked to leave your duty within one month of issuing this notice.
Eastern Regional Manager.
Sukanya was flabbergasted. She knew not what she had done wrong. In the beginning she was reluctant to leave and approached her seniors but to no avail. On a particular day, Seema told her as usual, “I’m your Regional Manager and I don’t want to see you in my team and am ordering you to put in your resignation”, to which Sujit also followed up later with a mail. Sukanya finally decided to end this daily torture and humiliation. Her confidence was at the lowest ebb and her dignity and self-respect violated. She was all shaken up and in tears. She went home shocked and stupefied by the experience.
At home Srinjoy and his wife tried to pacify her but she was in total shock. Life for her was going through its darkest phase.
Sukanya’s marriage had already been fixed to Dhruva by their parents. He was in Delhi during this time; heard about her plight and was concerned about her. He informed them that he would be coming down to Kolkata soon to meet her.
“Be happy Sukanya, be happy,” he said. “It’s been a blessing in disguise. You are not aware of the workings of some of the corporates,” he said. “Thank God you have come out unscathed and safe”, he added.
Within a month’s time her marriage took place elaborately and she left for Delhi with the hope of a happier and blissful future.