It was Monday. I reached office at the usual time. That day, like a rare spectacle, Paul had arrived before me. He was busy packing up his stuff. By the time I got adjusted for the day ahead, my mailbox woke up from its weekend slumber and soon new mail alerts started rolling on the screen. Many of them marked “Fw:” and a few “Re:” and amongst them, one subject line said “Good Bye”.
How Ironic, I thought, the day began with a “Goodbye”.
It was from Paul; Just another conventional goodbye mail with a thank you note and an uncared promise to be in contact.
It was 11:00 already and I went alone for a break. Standing in the balcony, puffing a cigarette, I began to wait; without knowing for what or for whom!
From a past few days, I had this feeling that I had never experienced before. A feeling of being chained with something rigid and invisible; I was breathing, but was falling short of air, I looked happy but I never smiled, I wanted to shout and tell the world that I exist, but words failed me.
Taking a deep drag of smoke, I stared at the adjacent building that housed a prestigious multinational company. It had a huge hoarding with pictures of smiling faces on it that reminded me of bygone days.
The days when I was called ‘fresher’ in the industry, when I used to talk about dream projects. Discussions on software architecture and compatibility sometimes converged into arguments that went on endlessly. The zeal to do something new kept me awake all the night.
But with each step up the ladder, fatigue and inertia began dowsing the fire of ambitions. The word “challenge” now was a synonym for “tension”. The simple equation of life had become a complex theorem.
I was 5 years old in this company and my salary figure teased me. Ramesh, Ali and Subha who left the company for better opportunity some time ago, now earn double the salary they earned here. Subha even bought a SUV in about a month’s time after joining the new Job. Their activity on social websites prompted me that they were having a great life, partying in posh restaurants, travelling the world and printing green money.
Paul’s leaving left me alone in a group of green beans who, in my view, were clueless about their future. At times, I felt as if I was a silent spectator, watching my team getting downsized and I am waiting to get fired someday. After all, the fear of being jobless is a software engineer’s worst nightmare.
“It’s a dog’s life” I mumbled to myself and returned to my desk. But the feeling of waiting for a certain something did not leave my mind.
Just as I returned to my workstation, Andy appeared from nowhere. He dragged me into a room and made a serious face. Such expressions on a boss’s face is like a prelude to the deep trouble that is about to be unfolded.
He spoke confidently,
“So, Paul has to be replaced and I see no one else for the replacement better than you. From today you will also take care of Paul’s components.” Giving me a hand shake, he left.
It was a repeat telecast of dialogues that were said to me when Ali and Subha left. I knew it was going to be worse from here.
That’s when I decided to quit.
The very next thing I did was, I uploaded my resume to the profile hungry job sites and within hours, I started getting interview calls.
Suddenly, the whole world seemed to be interested in me and my work and everyone was willing to take me on-board. It felt like being a rock star that every girl wanted to hug and kiss.
Numerous opportunities flew in but, as always, I was in search of the best.
The time came when I got a call from the prestigious company. It was the company of my dreams. I could already see my smiling face on the billboards that I used to stare from my office. My profile was enough for them to offer me a job. Few rounds of formal interview followed and I was in. The offer letter was more like a booklet. But amongst all, a glimpse of my new salary package sent me to cloud 9 or even higher.
Next morning, I slammed a resignation mail to my boss. I enjoyed telling a blunt NO to his pleadings to stay back. I was punishing him for all his sins. I slept peacefully that night.
The next morning, a new journey began. I was going to live a dream. I had a cabin for myself, there was unlimited internet with no websites blocked, the cafeteria was much bigger and had more varieties of food served, the coffee machine was better. The sports lounge was free. Every other month we got goodies from the company to advertise the launch of various products. My Social networking was at its all-time high. My colleagues did not treat me like a pain in their ‘backend’. My boss was cool. I started getting more tele-marketing calls as the size of my salary account increased.
Overall, I believed to have made the right choice.
But, the waiting for the ‘unknown something’ did not end. A certain part in ‘me’ was always waiting…in time, weeks turned into months and months became years. Meaningless milestones were reached, undesired achievements were achieved, but, the simple equation did not get any simpler.
Slowly, history began showing itself. Synonyms became antonyms again. I started to feel the tightening of the invisible chain around me. If my boss in the previous company was a jailer then the current one can easily give Yamraj a run for his money. Viju, Dilip and Vandana had recently quit the company for better opportunity dumping their software shit over my head. Viju bought a new duplex house at a prime locality in the city. Inflation is rising higher and higher. The cost cutting measures increased the risk of getting fired.
It is today, just like yesterday, I stand in the balcony of my prestigious dream company with a cigarette and a cup of coffee and peeping into another building of a multinational company that stood next to us.
And the secretive longing accompanies me everywhere like the dog in the Hutch telecom advert.
Torrents of thoughts overwhelmed me…
“It could be the same story of life with Ali, Dilip, Vandana or even Andy! With a simple title, “The monotony of life”.
Change is inevitable, agreed… but eventually, are we bringing inevitability to drive the change?
Are we losing our true self in the fear of joblessness, fictitious competition and addiction to princely lifestyle?
What are we racing up to anyway? Does this race ever end? If yes, then who shall be the winner?”
They all remain unanswered.
“It’s a dog’s life” – I mumbled to myself as I returned to my desk and started waiting….