A Privileged Life...
by Sujaya Mohan
The day somehow did not start off well for me. I was having a horrible day in office. I had more that 10 tasks on hand to be completed and was facing a road block in each and every thing! God! This job!!!!
It all started with me waking up late. I had forgotten to set the alarm and neither my mom nor my husband bothered to wake me up. I had to even skip my breakfast to reach office early. But on that day, being a Friday, it looked like everyone in the city wanted to reach office early. They were endless traffic jams and ultimately I reached very late. I was bombarded with lots of escalations and somehow, I was unable to get people to work for me that day. I don’t know whether it was due to a weekend mode or the upcoming festival, but people in my office seemed unresponsive thus making my 10 incomplete tasks remain incomplete. I didn’t like the lunch served in office that day and ended up eating just an apple and a banana. Post lunch, I started freezing, thanks to the AC, which was having some issues and the maintenance guys took their own sweet time to come and check it out. I thought I would survive the rest of the day with coffee, but unfortunately, the coffee machine seemed to have gone on a holiday already.
By end of the day, I was supersaturated! I was cursing and cribbing about each and everything about that day. I looked at the clock and it was 8:00 pm. I thought I’ll finally call it a day. I just stepped out of my office and PHATTT..the strap on my slipper came off. All the things that could go wrong went wrong that day and with this, I was like….WHAT NEXT!!???
I rely on public transport to commute to and from office. The city that I live, in boasts of an amazing connectivity. It is also notorious for autowallas who at that time of the day either refuse to ply, charge you extra fare or simply tweak their meters which has its own reading. With the condition that I was in, an auto rickshaw was the only means I could rely on to reach home.
Thinking which of the above option I would fall prey to, I stood waiting for the ride. Finally, an auto rickshaw stopped in front of me and I quoted my destination. I stood waiting for him to start flinching which they normally do before asking for the bonus fare. But this guy simply smiled and asked me to get in. The first relief for the day!!!
The guy also looked pretty young and humble. He was polite enough to ask which route I would like to take and also suggested shorter ones to save the travel time and fare. I was really surprised at this attitude.
After riding for a distance I checked that the meter was perfect and I began to relax for the first time that day. Suddenly out of blue he asked me whether I worked in the company from where I fetched this ride and I replied yes. His next question took me by surprise. “Madam, what should you study to get a job in such companies”. Normally, people ask “What to do to get a job in such companies?” but in this case, the emphasis was on “Studies”. “It depends” I said. “What kind of job do you want to do”? “Madam, I am studying final year Bcom now through correspondence and wish to study Company Secretary after my graduation”. “Will this help me get a job?” I was stumped!
A CS!! Of course, well, they will welcome you with open arms. Now my curiosity took the better of me and I wanted to ask questions..in fact a lot of them. Sensing my curiosity, Devendra began narrating his story.
“Madam, I have so many dreams and I don’t know if I can pursue them with the current conditions of my family” he began. I thought this was going to be some trash picked up from upteem movies and teleserials, but his narration really took my attention and turned to be a story of courage and perseverance. He belonged to a small nuclear family where his father drove an auto for a living. His mother worked as a household help and younger brother studied in school. One day, while his father was driving on a highway, a truck collided with the auto and due to the impact, he was thrown out and was immediately hit by an oncoming bus. He was admitted to a nearby hospital and it took the family almost 3 days to locate him. The injury was so bad that both the legs had to be amputated, thus rendering him handicapped for life. Whatever meager savings the family had, went in the treatment, medication and repair of the auto.
Not the kind to beg from relatives and friends for support, the family took upon itself to find an opportunity out of this tragedy. His mother learnt tailoring from a considerate cousin and started tailoring in her part time. Meanwhile, our hero suddenly became the man of the house. So far, he was used to going to only college and now suddenly found no money to pay for it. Initially, he found it really hard to quit studying and start working. He was frustrated. All his life, he had seen his parents slogging day in and day out and hence he always wanted to study, get a good job and have a stabilized life and now because of a truck and bus, his dreams were also crushed along with his father’s legs.
After a lot of thinking and moral support from his parents, he etched out a schedule for himself, with a hope that this would etch out a route for him to fulfill his aspirations. His day began at 3:00 in the morning, He would wake up and study for 2 hrs up to 5. Then his first job of the day would begin as a paperboy. He would deliver papers until 7 and then do the job of a milk delivery boy. This would continue until 8 am after which he would come home, eat what was cooked and then leave home again for the third job of the day, as a help in an electric appliances store. This job would go on till 6 or 7 in the evening and after that he would take the autorickshaw and ferry commuters like me till 10-11 in the night.
I am not sure how much of his story was true. But it gave me a reality check. I didn’t have to wake up so early every day. And the reason my mother or my husband did not wake me up was probably out of concern and not that they did not bother. They had seen my hectic schedule for the past few days and thought that a few extra hours of sleep would do me some good. I worked for one of the best IT companies in India which boasted of being an equal opportunity provider, with a centrally air conditioned office, that served breakfast and lunch free of cost. Not to mention the endless tea and coffee that flows out of the vending machines all through the day. I had a plush seat which offered a lovely view of the beautifully manicured gardens, a chair which was ergonomically designed and I had the luxury of taking small breaks whenever my time and mood permitted. I had one Manager and one client and always thought that these people give all the problems of this world to me. Getting this job was a cakewalk for me. This was the first job that I landed with straight out of college through campus recruitment. Yet, I complained about the job, food, the AC and coffee vending machines, the people around me etc etc…
This poor chap couldn’t even take the liberty of sleeping for a couple of hours more as he had the responsibility of delivery of milk and newspaper to the tea and news starved families. I can remember how we react when either of these two things arrives late. He had to face 3 managers and endless clients whose treatment towards him would change as per their mood swings. His breakfast would be mostly Ganji or rice starch and lunch would normally be the leftovers given to his mother by her generous employers. He had to sit for hours ferrying people in an upright position and weave his way in a bumper to bumper traffic. But in spite of all this, he still had his dreams intact and the determination to fulfill it. I realized that the job which I was complaining about was indeed special as there were hordes of people vying for my job. I had actually met one just now.
I finally reached my destination and felt really grateful for the warmth and comfort that it offered. Dinner was simple, but was fresh and lovingly cooked by my mother. It was the tastiest of all the meals I had in the company of my loving husband and mom. Before going to bed, I said a silent prayer to this boy and his family and thanked God for blessing me with such a privileged life….. ***