I have seen better days; days when I have shopped for 10 thousand in a day, all in cash; days when I spent 1000 for a solo mini ride to home from office, simply because I was too lazy to board a metro; days when I treated myself with 500 Rupees detox drink at the airport followed by a 4000 Rs. anti-ageing, international beauty product in airport lounge. I also remember a day when en route to Jaipur, at a railway station, I opted for 500 Rs an hour lounge simply because I could not stand in the chilling winters outside on the platform.
All this comfort with a caveat. I slogged in an air conditioned cubicle in a job that did no justice to my skills, interests, and dreams. In this bargain, I got a more than fat salary check on 30th of every month. And I was quite content. With so much money to splurge, I could afford a divorce. I dated rich men, c-level men; kissed them; flirted with them. Until it all came to a halt.
I was asked to leave in a day’s notice. There is no dearth of polished words in business dictionary for snatching someone’s bread and butter. Involuntary attrition; poor performance; laying off; firing etc. I remember making presentations in the boardroom for yearly attrition rate. It all seemed a mere number to me. 6% involuntary attrition in 2015 followed by 7% in 2016. Oh! There’s a 1% increase y-o-y. I never bothered to count, how many homes have suffered gruesome sleepless nights and cold kitchen floors in months to come. Until I became a part of that number. That nondescript number now has a human face, it’s me. I called my partner and told him the bad news.
And he told me not to worry. He comforted me on the phone as I burst into tears. He knew that I’m scared on the money front. I always earned more than enough but my expenses increased in line with my promotions. I splurged more as I earned more while my savings remained stagnant at a monthly recurring deposit. The partner sensing my situation calmed me down and said:
‘Don’t worry. I have enough backup for a year. And with me, you don’t have to panic at all. It’s my duty to see you and our family is being looked after.’
Lesson learnt – It is good to revel in gleams of sunshine and sing love songs in the garden with male honeybees but do have an umbrella when it downpours. The umbrella might look drab black but it will save your ass from getting wet. You also won’t see honeybees in the rain. These untamed fairies with gossamer wings have moved to some other garden for the nectar.
Not just the bad news, there was more to come. My laptop was confiscated the same day at work and I did not have a spare laptop at home. In these digital times, a laptop is indispensable for seeking or doing work. And here I was: From a lac a month earning, super successful manager who broke the glass ceiling in her early 30s to a disheartened, unemployed, disillusioned woman, who is going to spend coming weeks/ months, staring at her dusted house floor and who does not even have a laptop. And this mightier fall just in one single day.
I left office for home after bidding no one a final farewell. I was too shocked and embarrassed by this sudden exit. What would I say to my subordinates who looked up to me? Just a day before, I was giving them instructions for the upcoming week’s targets. What reason can I cook so quick to give grounds for my sudden departure? I quickly and furtively packed my bag, the tiffin box; the mobile charger; the notebook; income tax return print out; and clutcher. Oh! In that moment I almost felt like a thief, cautious of not being watched, not being caught exiting. I didn’t have my lunch that day.
As I swiped my card for one last time, I couldn’t hold back. I called up my partner and sobbed uncontrollably on the phone. My bread and butter; my status; my identity all has withered away in a second! Is success so fragile? I worked hard for years to reach where I was that day. It all crumbled like a sand castle with a minor jolt? The partner, my beacon of hope assured me:
‘Don’t worry honey. You are destined to do better things than a mere job. It’s an opportunity in disguise. Now start working on your dreams. And you won’t have to spend a single day without a laptop. You will get your laptop today itself before you reach home.’
Was he kidding? How is it possible to arrange for a laptop in only an hour and half. I disbelieved him but my vulnerable heart praised his noble intentions. When I reached Saket metro station, I got a call from an unknown no. I picked up that call and there was a man on the opposite line. He said he is carrying my laptop bag and is waiting for me at Mandi House metro station. My partner kept his promise and did the unthinkable. I got off from metro; picked the laptop bag from that unknown man and went home.
The troubled times continued and the next morning, I saw the 470 Rs canister of Ensure chocolate powder left open and an insect crawling inside it. Earlier the price never bothered me but I screamed that day on my mother who left it open. I was upset as this was a huge loss and how can I afford buying a new canister all over again. In the times of unemployment, every rupee seemed to count. At the same time, the partner called me and I complained to him:
‘Mom has left open the canister and there is an insect inside it. I opened the seal just last week and there is a lot of powder still remaining. A big loss!!’
I decided not to buy a new one until the next month. This loss has to be compensated. I cannot afford to spend double on the same thing. I have to be frugal until I find an alternative source of income. I mulled.
The partner knew my histrionics and he knew how thrifty I can become. He knew I’m not going to buy a second canister again and without telling me, he sent off his cousin brother to purchase another canister. In the evening, my doorbell rung and when mother opened the door, his cousin was standing with a new canister of Ensure.
Lesson Learnt – Words should always be supported by action. There’s a BIG difference between the actual care and bogus care. In the past, I had men offering me return lift on dates. They said that’s their way of showing care for me. But that care depended on those men’s comfort, not mine. Would those men still be available for care when I was unemployed and fighting it out with scarce money? Can those men make available a spare laptop in just an hour or would they even be worried that my favorite Ensure chocolate powder is no more in my kitchen and how would I drink milk?
My phase of unemployment made me understand the importance of companionship. It taught me ‘care’ first hand. The world is ugly, tough, and there’s increasing lack of compassion at all rungs. Sexual relationships which do not involve ‘true care’ and ‘concern’ for the wellbeing of other partner to me, are not worth having.