Are you afraid of the dark, ma’am?
Relocation is such a pain. Though I was looking forward to my new job as Head of Marketing in a manufacturing company, the relocation from Delhi to Chandigarh was completely back-breaking. I was very excited to move to Chandigarh, leaving the hustle and bustle of Delhi behind. The only problem was Chandigarh was new to me. This was my first visit and that too a permanent one for the time being. I was used to the vagabond life. It had been 10 years now since I moved out of Mumbai – my home town in search of better, more satisfying work. I’ve been a restless soul with a need to be stimulated at work; hence moving from one place to another was something that I had to take into my stride. The only trouble was that I was bad with directions and moving around in a new place. But I didn’t have too much choice. I always tried to choose an apartment close to office and that really helped me.
After the movement and settling down in my new apartment in Chandigarh, I could finally focus on my new job. It was a big responsibility and the words of Peter Parker, the boy who lived in my friendly neighbourhood kept ringing in my ears – “with great power comes great responsibility.” I knew I had to work hard and make good of this responsibility. It was a dream job and I decided to sweat it out and make it count. I immersed myself in work in every area where my personal attention was required. I hired a good team and within six months became a rage in the company. Everything was going just as I had envisaged. Thanks to my choice of team members, every little work delegated was completed to perfection. I was on seventh heaven.
Soon, my product team was ready with a new product and we were to launch it soon. My marketing campaign was ready and we planned to launch the product in a big way. We decided to invite all the who’s who and glitterati in the city. My CEO wanted me to personally give out the invites to some key people and I thought it was a great idea. I could also introduce myself as the new Marketing Head and build a rapport with all of them, since all were potential clients as well. We would be making a soft sales pitch to them during the launch so the idea was great. There were just two weeks left for the launch and since the team was making fabulous progress with preparations of the launch, I decided to focus on inviting my CEO’s special guests. One by one my secretary started making appointments for me, and I started venturing out with the invites. It was great to meet new people, that too at such top positions.
One day, I was scheduled to meet Mrs. Kaul – the Managing Director of a large corporate house. I was told that she came from a very affluent background, had no real reason to work hard, and yet she looked after every little element in the company. It seems she took a keen interest in the people who worked for her too. I was really looking forward to meeting her. Unfortunately that day, my driver took ill and I had to drive myself. Something that I had begun to dislike, knowing my great navigation skills! I called Mrs. Kaul’s secretary for directions but it seems she was out for lunch. Hesitatingly, I called Mrs. Kaul herself because I abhorred being late for a meeting. From the moment she answered (at the second ring, mind you), she exuded warmth. Her directions were so accurate perhaps because of the way she took interest in explaining the way right from my office, telling me about every turn and landmark, that I reached her office in no time. I was so looking forward to meeting her.“Are you afraid of the dark, ma’am?” I asked. She just smiled.. #shortstory Click To Tweet
On reaching her office, her secretary Sunaina who was now back from lunch, ushered me into her office. The moment I entered her cabin, one look at her told me this was going to be a great meeting. She smiled and walked up to me slowly and gave me her hand. I took it and held it with both my hands to return the warmth. She was reeking of humility. She asked me to take a chair and sat behind her desk. She knew the purpose of my visit and was very happy to be invited for the launch telling me how she and my CEO were childhood friends. She asked me about how I was finding the place since I was new to the city. I thanked her for the wonderfully accurate directions she gave me and told her the going was tough but fantastic. There was never a dull moment.
Mrs. Kaul asked me my preference and knowing I was a fan of lemon tea; she called the pantry herself and requested them to oblige us with two hot cups of lemon tea. The conversation was going great and the 45 minutes passed by in a jiffy. It was time for me to bid goodbye and I took her leave, telling her not to walk me to the door as I would be happy to go myself. Giving me another sweet smile she told me she was looking forward to meeting me at the launch and sitting through my presentation. “What a lovely person”, I thought to myself as I walked towards the door. Suddenly, something fell with a big thud. Ah, the paperweight I saw. She bent down to pick it up and what I witnessed then made me stop in my tracks. She was feeling the place to find out where the paperweight fell so she could pick it up!
Oh my god! Can this be possibly true? No way! She was more efficient, bright, cheerful, smart and intelligent than a normal person, was she really…. Blind? I couldn’t stop myself and ran to her rescue not realising there was a sudden outburst from my eyes pouring all the way down to my cheeks. She gave me a million dollar smile and told me, “Don’t worry Akash, I am used to this. It’s been nearly 45 years in this bright world now.” I didn’t want to offend her self-esteem by trying to help, so I bade my final goodbye and walked towards her cabin door. But at the door something in me compelled me to stop, look at her and ask her the inevitable question – “Are you afraid of the dark, ma’am?” Almost as if she was expecting me to say something, she was already looking at me and she gave me her beautiful smile in response. That told me all. Her dark world was bright because of her sparkling attitude! Hats off to you Mrs. Kaul.
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