Neha
"2 years. That's it. Then you'll have to settle down." This sounded more like a threat.

Finally, after a lot of discussion, debates, arguments and a whole lot of persuasion, I was allowed to work.

When I first stepped on to the Delhi station platform, it was a different feeling. Everything seemed different about this city... The air, the people, the roads, the buildings... everything.

Excitement, jitters, happiness, a but of fear - all kinds of feelings stirred in me. But the most prominent of them all was determination. I knew I was venturing into the unknown, all by myself.

My first day at office was the usual orientation program that was too go on for a week. I learned more every day, of the place I would work in, the kind of work I was required to do, training I needed to take etc etc. I met many people too.

The very first week took me in. One evening, after returning to the guest house, I realized that was not what I wanted to do. I had always wanted to get into journalism, since I knew what a career meant. I worked hard towards it and there I was, in a job I didn't want.

I weighed my options. To return was not one of them. I decided to stay put.

The first difficulty came in the form of house-hunting. It was a terrible experience. When two single girls go out to find a room for themselves, landlords ask all sort of questions. There were occasions when we were almost asked to get out!

Finally, we got a decent two-room set, which seemed okay for the while. Meanwhile, training had started at work.

Each day was a challenging one. And each day, I lost a bit of myself.

My confidence and morale were hit badly. Once we were asked to prepare a short speech.

Public speaking had always been my forte. I prepared all night and the next day and was all set. I started well too. But something happened in between. I stopped and broke down. Right there, in front of an audience of 20-odd people.

I. Broke. Down!

Never before had such a thing happened with me. As soon as I could, I rushed to the nearest phone booth. It was a small store that had the telephone instrument outside on a high stool. I called up my grandfather and cried. Right there, in the middle of the market. People stared at me as they walked past, but I was too absorbed to bother.

Dadaji asked me to return immediately. That night, I laid awake thinking if that was what I wanted to do. Barely 2 weeks and I had already given up. I just wasn't myself anymore. That confident girl who thought she could achieve anything she put her will to had been left behind somewhere.

I was shaken. With no friends around, it was difficult to talk about it. My colleagues were also my competitors, in a way. I could not give up so easily.

Dadaji called me the next morning and simply talked for a while. He didn't mention anything about the previous evening. He asked me about work and the place I was staying in. He, in fact, said to me that he will visit me in autumn.

That was it. Autumn. 4 months from then. He had said it.

He knew I could make it. His words told me that. I got what I needed most at the time. And my grandfather made it all sound so simple. He had done it again - instilled in me the strength and courage to move on.

I returned to work with a new vigor, a new force. This time, I was my own competitor. I had to prove myself wrong. I had to bring back the girl in me who willed her way to what she wanted.

Training went on for three long months. It was excruciating, to say the least. And to think that the real work hadn't even started.

It was Independence Day when we were to have our exit tests. Each of us were to get three attempts to clear it. If not, then that person would be sent to a refresher training.

Out of the 14 of us, my turn was one of the last.

As each one came out after their first attempt, dejection was written all across their faces. That unnerved me. You made just three mistakes and that attempt was gone.

But I knew I had just one attempt with me. Because if I didn't clear then, it would be all over for me. I would go back into my shell.

I barely heard when my name was called. I walked into the room quietly, and took my seat. The examiner ( I still remember his name!) asked if I was ready. I simply smiled.

The test started and went on for what seemed eternity. But wait, I was in for a surprise.

I was enjoying it! Yeah, I was!! I gave answers confidently and was almost speaking as if I had done it all my life!

After it got over, I walked over to get my score.

"You were good. In fact, pretty good. 100%. Yeah!"

I was too stunned to react. I walked out in a daze. When my colleagues saw me, they were sure I had failed too. A friend came up and raised her brows, silently asking me.

"100%." It registered as I said it. Among all the congratulations and hugs, one of the girls who was all fine till then looked at me spitefully and started crying. She was one of the first who couldn't clear the attempt and till others came out with the same result, she was fine.

I can never forget that look. That look had, in a way, spiked my happiness at that moment.

That was my first big examination when I stepped out in the corporate world and it taught me so much.

It taught me to fight on, despite all challenges.

It taught me to believe in myself.

And it gave me my first lesson of the big corporate world - "Tread carefully. Trust, but not blindly. Not everyone here is your friend. Most of them are your competitors. And the people who deserve your trust will come along on their own."

****************************

Blogdosts, through this series, I am attempting to share what I have learned in the past 8 years. I have broken down, then stood up, have trusted and have failed. It has been a bitter-sweet journey, which I am trying to bring to you all.

Will come back with the next part, next week. Till then, take care and stay precious :)
Labels: 13 comments | edit post
Reactions: 
Neha
I do not celebrate Mothers' Day.... or fathers' day for that matter. Neither do I celebrate Valentine's day nor any similar day.

So yesterday was just another Sunday for me with a cuppa tea and the bulky Sunday newspaper, which was full of Mothers' Day messages and advertisement. That made me wish the mothers I know - my cousins, friends, friends' mothers. One of my friends replied to my message reciprocating my wishes, which I laughed at and put aside. She later explained those wishes were in advance. I laughed a little more.

So, officially, Mothers' day started and ended for me there and a usual Sunday went on.

Around noon, my cell phone beeped indicating an incoming message. Thinking it to be a nasty marketing message, I ignored it for a while. It was almost over half an hour when I finally read it and instantly broke down.

Having rushed through it in the first go, I reread it slowly and carefully, in between wiping my tears and controlling hysterical sobs.

It was from my kid brother, wishing me on Mothers' day!

Now you know why I broke down.

A day that was meaningless to me suddenly became very special. A whole lot of memories rushed in and took over.

I was 12 when our mother passed away. I had to return from my boarding school to be with my kid brother who was about 5 then. My world had changed overnight. From being a carefree and spoilt daughter, I was now an elder sister supposed to take care of her siblings.

To say I managed things well would be a lie. I was lost... completely.

And there was this little boy looking up to me.

I didn't learn anything.

He taught me.

He taught me to be patient with children; he taught me how to love selflessly; he taught me how to be a mother.

I have rocked him to sleep, helped him with studies, fed him with my hands and ran after him while doing so, attended his parent-teacher meetings, packed his lunch box, got him ready for school every morning, dropped and picked him from school... I could go on and on.

The one incident that is forever marked in my memory is when he was about 10 or 12 years old. I had punished him for something and not allowed him to go for his evening playtime. Soon after, I left for some work.

When I returned, a neighbor came to me and told me that Ankit (my brother) was standing at the gate, watching other kids play. When she asked him to join them, he told her that I had punished him. She further coaxed him, saying that he could play and I wouldn't get to know. He refused and instead stood there all evening.

I was speechless.

And my brother is still the same.

There are so many other moments that make this bond so special and unique.

The day I bade goodbye to my family, post marriage, I had thought I wouldn't cry. Both my siblings said that everything will remain the same, except for my marital status. I would continue to live in Delhi and things will remain as they are. And moreover, I had thought that the happiness of marrying my sweetheart will engulf all other emotions.

I was proved wrong. Though all seemed normal while we walked towards the waiting car, I broke down when I saw Ankit at the gate. It was something I can never explain. A subtle change had taken place, which none of us foresaw.

Yet, even now, our relationship remains as beautiful as always and so it will, forever :)

(My younger sister, Shivani, me & Ankit)

Ankit, I may never be able to express it, but you mean a lot to me. In fact, both of you mean so much to me. As we grow up, our lives and its priorities change, but that one thing that will never change is the special bond and love between us. No distance, fights, or misunderstanding can diminish what we feel for each other.

I am not a mother yet, but I have a son. A son I hold dearer than life, a son who has taught me so much, and a son who will always be my first child.
Labels: , , 21 comments | edit post
Reactions: 
Neha
Before you leash out on my absence, please blame it on my exams. Having quit my job, I felt obliged to study every possible hour and so the neglect to my space here.

Now that exams are done and over with, I can get back to good old blogging and lots of reading. It's been more than 2 months since I picked a book to read! Oh... and did I tell you that it's now just a wait for my next degree? I have cleared all the exams and the degree should be arriving by July. So, that is another chapter closed... well almost. The last being a full time job.

When I decided to quit my job, everyone around me was startled. And I will be honest enough to say that my decision surprised me too, to some extent. But it was a much thought-and-discussed decision and a much needed one too, due to many reasons. Of course, everyone asked why I was quitting a good profile-well paying job. I had been at it for almost eight years and that is a long time!

When I first appeared for a job interview conducted by a placement agency, I had no clue where I was heading. In fact, I had no intention to give the interview either. It was at the behest of my college friends who went to a closed cyber cafe, got it opened and typed out a CV for me. A simple summary of my educational details and hobbies that they had written on a piece of paper took the form of my first CV.

I sat for the interview, without informing anyone at home. And as the interview progressed, I found myself enjoying them and had that heady feeling you get after clearing interview rounds. It was new. It was exhilarating.

I remember calling up my cousin in between to plan the dinner menu for the next day (it was rakshabandhan the next day) and then lying to my grandfather about having some extra classes in college. (Read on, the lie didn't stick for too long.)

Yes, I couldn't have told my family about the interview. If you know a typical Indian business class family, you'd understand where I am coming from. All my cousins (sisters) got married soon after completing their studies. They may have helped in the family business, but never too overtly. So doing a job was just out of the question.

And there I was, giving an interview for a job I sure didn't want or need. It was all happening too soon and before I knew it, I had cleared it. Though as soon as I left the college premises, I forgot all about it.

Until the next morning.

It was out in the newspapers!

It was the first time that a campus placement was done in our city and there were 6 out of some 350-odd candidates selected. My name was in that list.

My grandfather, who read the newspaper religiously every morning, bellowed out my name which startled me awake. Pointing to the newspaper, he asked me what that was all about? I had no answer.

And then started the mayhem, with both my father and grandfather blaming each other for the drastic step I had taken. I was both amused and frightened. After a lot of chaos and blame-game, it was decided that this matter would be closed then and there.

All went smooth until after a few months. I received a call from the consultancy telling me that companies were coming over for interviews. I gingerly told my grandfather about it. He didn't even bother to hear it out. Yes, that matter was closed for him. Totally.

However something had happened in between.

To me. Within me.

Seeing the other students depressed for not having made it, I realized how important it was for them and how trivial for me. And then I thought at the chance that may be destiny was trying to give me. To spread out my wings. To make my own mark.

That call cemented the fluttering thought within me. I, somehow, convinced my grandfather and assured him that I only wanted to test myself by appearing for the final interviews with the companies directly. He agreed to let me go.

"Just the interview," he said.

I appeared for three interviews and got offer letters from all of them. My family was stunned and I guess happy too. Even before I had appeared for my final year exams, I had three job letters in my hand.

So yes, I got a job without really looking for one. I appeared for interviews like I participated in competitions. It was another challenge for me, which I had to win. May be I was trying to prove a point to myself. I don't really know. In fact, I don't really remember.

That small effort by my friends of getting a CV typed out at a closed cyber cafe had changed my life.

Completely!

*************************************************
Blogdosts, today I start a new series 'My Corporate Saga'. I will share my experiences, the challenges I faced, the achievements I accomplished, and the falls I suffered in my eight years of life as a working woman. It will highlight the problems a single girl faces in a new city and in a new job among strangers. It will also tell you how I managed to move along. The sweet and happy moments, the sour and frightening ones, all will be part of this series.

Along with this, there will be other new things happening in this space. Those that I had only been thinking about till now :).For now writing takes a front seat in my life... something I have waited for a long long time :)

See you all real soon. Till then, take care and stay precious :)

Labels: 15 comments | edit post
Reactions: