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Upbringing

Short Story by Manasa A


 Soumya and Nivedita were friends met  at the work place. The journey of their friendship started from the 3rd day of Soumya’s job in this company.

Today is the first day of  Soumya’s first job who has been recruited as a Graduate Engineer Trainee. Soumya was all energized for this and had oodles of optimism about this job.  She constantly longed for challenges; her dream was to be one of the most sought Engineers.

It was very difficult for her to get job after Engineering. Her dream was to get to a position where people would linger around to appoint her in future.  She always hallucinated that, “Top companies would wait for a chance to even get a peek of her time with them”.  She never contemplated about her future related to her personal life.  She always felt and told people, ”No man can hang about with me for more than a week”.  She would get married to only gratify her parents and then she would drift away, adopt a child and lead a life getting involved in many social activities.

Nivedita has been associated with this company since past 3 years as a documentation specialist.   She just wanted to work because she had to earn her bread for a living. She had no hopes or aspirations to grow high professionally. Nivedita always dreamt about a happy family, with  a husband who would give her surprises, would abide by her every small and big wish.

Soumya  belonged to  a middle class family, where her father had taken voluntary retirement from his government service. Her mother was a housewife but used to do some petty business like selling sarees, stitching clothes and so on. Her brother was working in a multi-national company.  She was an engineer by profession.  She had a happy and contented life with her small family.  Her brother was a torment, but a kind hearted person. Soumya was a rebel, can say a female protagonist.  She always thought, “when women can do the same job what men do and the result of the job completed would be equally good or sometimes better, why this special preference for the species called ‘men’ in this world” . I too have no answer to this question posed by Soumya.  She hated the principles of this patriarch society.  At home she was given the same rights as her brother had got.  

Soumya was a tall, plump and dark complexioned girl, who had no regrets for the way she looked. Looks were never a criteria in her life, may be because that was never a prime importance for the environment where she was brought up. Wherever she would go, with her communication skills and social adaptivity, she was given a special respect.  If she had to complete her engineering, it was only because of her mother’s efforts who arranged for her college fee.  She always encouraged her daughter in all her endeavors.

Nivedita was from a different background.  Her father was a police constable.  He was one such person who gave importance to men, who felt daughter was a burden in life.  He had shunned her mother and Nivedita immediately after her birth, and mostly spent time at his parents place.  He hardly gave any money to his wife. Nivedita’s mother had to do various odd  jobs to fend for herself and her daughter. Nivedita was pretty but was of browner complexion, she was always ridiculed for not having fair complexion like that of her father’s sister. Thus, her mother had to put a lot of efforts to bring her up as a child because of her husband's torture.  

Niveditha was ridiculed by her mother also. She was condemned to be born as a daughter and for having born with browner complexion.  She grew up with  no self confidence at all.  If she had to complete her Diploma in Electrical and Electronics, she had to be thankful to her childhood friend. Her friend Deepa’s parents had paid her College fee which was a nominal amount Rs.200/-.

After completion of her Diploma, Nivedita moved to Bangalore, a bigger city.  Even after she started working, there was no end to her hardships.  She was told to stay in one of her relatives house by her mother.  The relative with whom she stayed was not at all considerate. After Nivedita came back from work, completely exhausted, she was expected to wash all the vessels and clean the house where she stayed. Added to her misery, the boss in her new company was a sadist.  He hated  female employees.  Even for the smallest of smallest mistakes she was getting scolded by this unreasonable boss.

For the kind of upbringing she had, Nivedita thought this is how life should go on and she is meant to be that.  Her boss got an opportunity and moved out of the company, and the new boss also  took undue advantage of her innocence. New people who replaced her would not reprimand her but there was no proper mentor to hone her skills.

**

Nivedita was amazed by the way Soumya was dealing with people.  Nivedita was a person who would say a sorry for the mistake she did not do. But Soumya, on the other hand,  was completely different.  Soumya would rumble with fury if someone had criticized her for no mistake of hers.  Once there was a client visit, and there was a minor fault in the job executed by Soumya.  A good friend of her by name Arvind who was in a senior position than her, called her and scolded her in front of the client.  Though Arvind was senior, she was in no way reporting to him.  Soumya bubbled with fury and made a big fuss as to, “how can he scold me when I'm  not reporting to him”.  She was telling her boss,”what authority does he have to yell at her for such a minor issue” .  She ensured that Arvind apologized to her  for his misbehavior.

Such things were completely new to Nivedita.  Slowly Nivedita became an admirer of Soumya.  Nivedita would prepare an outstanding presentation (ppt) for meetings, but somebody else would  present the data prepared by her, and take the credit. Soumya could not stand such exploitation on her by other colleagues.  She used to provoke Nivedita, telling either she should not prepare the ppt, if she prepares she has to present.  Nivedita would respond sheepishly saying, “I do not have the guts like you.  I am not an engineer, just a document specialist”. However, over the days, Soumya succeeded in getting her friend groomed to face the corporate world.  Now she started having tiffs with Soumya over work related conflicts.  She started finding the “Document Specialist” job to be monotonous and boring.

Time came for the friends to bid good bye.  Nivedita got a new job.  She was ready to face the world with more confidence now.  Soumya was very happy for the confidence she was able to inculcate in Nivedita. She was sad that her friend was leaving her and going, she was on the other hand happy for her success.  Though they were not working together, they were constantly in touch with each other over the phone.

Soumya’s attitude towards life was different than that of Nivedita.  Both were best friends but differed when it came to money. Professionally she was able to imbibe certain required skills in Nivedita.  But certain qualities were still in Nivedita which was due to her upbringing.  In Nivedita’s life without money she had faced a lot of hardships.  She found no one whom she could trust.  Her parents never knew the meaning of marriage,  love, trust etc. and hence her look out in life was very practical.  When it came to Soumya, she believed that money comes today and goes tomorrow.  If money is lost it can be earned again but relationships, moral values were of prime importance in life.

Story continued here.....