she stood still. waiting by the door. this was an everyday happening. it would begin by her dragging herself out of bed, the muddled morning routine with its regularity that unsettled her instead of comforting with its unchangeable drone. she would shut her door, then catch a taxi, and then finally walk the last stretch to her office building. it was the large glass structure that reflected light, absorbed heat, a glittering symbol of india’s thirst to grow, and a symbol of our inability to embrace local know-how. and then this… this pause before the large revolving glass doorway. people around her would brush by. earlier her colleagues rushing in would ask her to come along but she would wait there, at times acknowledging them with a nod. soon they got numb to it, as did she. and both parties forgot about the other. like a pillar in a crowded local station, people branched out and moved around her, as she stood frozen in her spot.
it all began a few months ago. with him. they had shared space on the floor, and she had spoken to him a few times. they had joined this large mnc together. she remembered those first few months, that feeling of freshness, excitement and unbittered hope. all of which triumphed over her tiny shovel of a house, with those gritty windows, tiles that hadn’t been polished since it was built in 1989. the diallpidated, crumbling building she called home, though it was called raj mahal, the house of rulers! ironic. it’s up for redevelopment, were the broker’s golden words. well, she was living in the older version, and would be able to afford it once it was redeveloped into a swanky, new place with marble flooring. those first few months were only positive, nothing could dampen the spirit. not just the first few months, maybe even the first year. then, work, bosses and their tantrums, difficult clients, and appraisals… yes, the humdrum of corporate life took over. some coped, some didn’t. some floundered, like her, hovering in the grey areas of not knowing if she was coping, or was failing.
he didn’t… cope that is. he had been a star in school, and rocked it at college too, or so they said later on. work didn’t suit him. the environment of pressure, performance to be delivered at gunpoint. it wasn’t his style. he’d always breezed through life, and that this was a struggle was new to him, and not good on his pride.
the first appraisal came in, and things changed. from being freshers earning the same salary, the differences crept in. they hadn’t yet learnt not to share this information. so in 10 minutes everyone knew who was getting the best pay and the lowest. he was the one at the bottom. a place that was strange to him. post that it was just downhill. he stumbled through his day, struggling, always. if his performance was below average earlier, now it was even worse, if it can get that way. and, he was a bright chap, showed a lot of potential, bosses had thought he would outshine everyone, but no one knew why he didn’t. and obviously, he didn’t either. and then, to cut the story short, he jumped. usual picture. tall building. unlimited access to the roof. unhappy employee jumps. news report for a day. forgotten post that. work goes on.
now she had been cribbing all morning that day. cribbed about work to her mother before leaving home, cursed the taxi drivers who refused to come the short distance, then the mumbai traffic for its chaos and disorderliness, and then her boss who always met her first thing in the morning and dumped her with even more work. her day went on like that. at lunch, sick of her whining, she stepped out, possibly for a break from herself! and on her way back, as she walked towards the glass doors, he fell. right in front of those doors that opened to the office. she hadn’t realised it at that point as she stared down at her phone, and she looked around, wondering where that loud thump had come from.
it made her stop. it was too close home, too close to her pain at work. her irritation with what she thought was failure, or lack of success. she stood there. again and again. every morning. in front of those large revolving doors, with people rushing in and out, getting on, moving on, climbing higher and higher. she stood there, a silent prayer for her own self.