It was barely nine in the morning and I was crying hard. Pressing the white smock up my eyes, I cried as though mourning. I screamed as if I were a retard. The losses are too many to be pointed. Where I am is a void. Most of the times, I remain frozen so the realization don’t affect me. At an unwarranted moment like now, when completely un-forecasted, it pierces me- the stab going down to every pore and those voices screaming at my inability to take control.
My manager is a nice man. He doesn’t seem to mind the pun intended jokes I crack- some on my team members, a few on other managers, some on him too; needless to say -most of them- publicly. He thinks I’m a lively one to stay quiet; but so does everyone else. The one day when my ability to keep up the façade had gone fragile, he had let me be dead in the medical room for the entire shift. He had not let me come to the floor. It was only the third day of calling here in this new organization -after nine years in time period when I got promoted as Quality Evaluator. I said nothing, didn’t cry- only my expressions had frozen. He had noticed. Nobody would ever know what part of me had died the previous evening before I went off to sleep for the following early morning shift.
Vacuum heals me. I don’t have the luxury of company who would comfort me. I was still in my training and not his team member yet. We got bonded in a mutually respecting work relationship since. I just ate up the chocolate he gifted me the other day to calm myself. His kid wasn’t keeping well, exchanged a few texts wishing him.
I wished yet another colleague -morning. She showed up the day I thought I had lost my new cell. I misplaced the token that was issued since our cellphones are to be deposited before entering the production floor. I was standing there bewildered at my own carelessness at the token counter with an approval email printout from my manager so the security hands over my cellphones, when I saw her standing there smiling at me. She was a stranger then. A day later, I had walked up to her and shared how she had made me feel at the time when I was running around bemused. We became friends.
This is how I had wanted. To be surrounded with people- the ones who would know me without me having to explain all about it. People, who would respect my limited interaction, understand my silence and not misjudge my laughter. What’s more is: them belonging to my workplace, the place of utmost importance to me. The fact that I had quit all to settle down –in manner of speaking and not how it otherwise explains- hits me hard all the time. My intentions were right, I wasn’t deceiving anyone, wasn’t getting my end served either; and yet, it fell flat in my face. It was always meant to. Options were a luxury then too.
Just where did my trait of judging people gone then? Why did I let it happen at the first place? How could someone I intended to weave my life with leave it tangled like a loom shuttle flown across the yarn- knotting them at places so them having to be cut in order to be removed? Where did I go wrong in projecting myself? Or maybe I made the same mistake as he did. I took it for granted that I’ll get my way around.
It is six years since I set foot in a Corporate again- where I belong. Nobody told me how haunting the walk through the corridors of my new office would be. I saw those walls looking down upon me; I lowered my eyes in shame. Orientation days seemed familiar. Policies and regulations- I remembered those all. I wasn’t being smug and yet was treated with respect. I noticed how the rest of them were surprised at my professional manners. I was too. Just why couldn’t I control that one twist that has now left me twisted forever? Why had I taken down all that I had built myself on my own? Where had my ability to forecast gone?
I alone am taking the shocks of changes now. The numbers of brands displayed on the pantry wafers stand made me go home and count the numbers of years I lost. Thankfully, the computers came to me being the most friendly asking me no questions about my ability to understand the updated softwares or the error messages. Decade old manages didn’t know of the things I do. The in-house Barista counter reminds me of my work with Convergys. I dind’t have enough to spend. A couple of months later, I won a contest and came as a goodie the Barista vouchers. I bought some brownies in exchange of those. It made me go reflective again.
The queries and the questions are most unflattering… is this your first job? I think in my mind- do I really look like I’m in my early twenties. How did you negotiate your salary? It takes me back to thinking how I had kept all my cards up the table and sought their understanding of my need for money and the amount. Why don’t you stay in a PG when you are all alone? And spend my life dumped on a bed and boxed in a cupboard witnessing two more girls doing the same- eating ill cooked food and being watched over with absolutely no privacy at all? Am I a refugee? Why aren’t you married? This one takes the cake. People who know me would know what I mean here. I’m tired of explaining- it’s a waste of time and effort. What’s the guarantee anyway that you wouldn’t want to press your opinion on me? How much do you pay your domestic? Don’t you have physical needs? You like wearing skirts? What was your previous name? What’s your father’s name? Are you a foreigner, you don’t look an Indian? Where are your parents/relatives? Don’t you feel awkward being on your own? Why don’t you have a boyfriend?
I was most successful in my work life be it any level- any sphere. I alone know how it feels to be dragged down from being a trainer/manager to wearing an associate’s badge. I am forced to interact with team members still not born when it comes to their level of maturity, nevermind their marital status. I can’t risk not being a team player. My manager makes me review his emails before he sends those to the leadership team. My presentations skills are appreciated. I have been professional enough to not retort at my colleagues’/managers’ uncouth approach and I’m not a softie- mind it. I don’t join heads to gossip or bitch… yet fool around like no-one’s business.
I was there. Then I lost it- what all alongwith is a separate chapter all together. I grieved enough to last a lifetime. Someone I never cared to know whose name back then is my senior manager here. He is humble enough to share I had once mentored him to the fellow managers. That was over a decade and half now and I thought I lost only six years. His sight is an ugly reminder of my mess on daily basis. I have to be careful to not add my co-workers to facebook or watsapp and not offend them either. I don’t want them to dig a way to my life- it isn’t exactly bright you see. I am careful not to say my complete date of birth when asked. Quite self- explaining- isn’t that? What compromises I am making by the day- one wouldn’t know of the intensity even if I described.
I bought clothes and shoes after over half a decade; also some kitchen utilities, cellphone and food. I bought eggs, mangoes and inner-wears. I have some lose-change now to spend and save. Dignity is anyway lost- atleast I’m surviving healthy enough for people to not know any more than I wish to disclose. The tell-tale signs are gone. My face isn’t dry anymore, toe-nails are painted. I don’t keep sick. I lost some more unwanted weight. There are people around me to take notice of my hairdo and dimples when I smile. My bright colored lippers are asked about for their shade number. My outfits are asked every detail about. They know who to approach for workplace related resolutions or product related queries.
I have a long way to go before I bridge the gap. Compliments don’t gloat me; only reminds me of who I was and what I had become- or maybe still am. I had everyone and everything. Then one day, alongwith people and earnings, I lost myself too. I’m nervous shaking most of the time. My framework is fractured. I feel I’m heeling but at this time as I writes, I hardly do. I want to sleep, so long that I don’t wake. If I must, then that should be in a new place with bright sunlight and snow clad mountains to be stepped out to. I don’t want people to know me there so they aren’t curious to join the dots. I’ll spread my arms and breathe in the fresh air before I go for work and come home to serenity to be able to live in peace.
Maybe I am dreaming heaven. Death perhaps.