Sunday, November 19, 2006

The moment of Truth!

It was Saturday, the 11th of November. A typical autumn morning for Bangalore- cloudy and pleasant. The newspapers reported of “dark and stormy nights” nearby, but Bangalore was just as placid as anybody could expect of it. I must remark that, in the past few months, I had personally weathered raging torrents of a tempestuous phase of my life- to the point of enough is enough! I knew the end was near. But that wasn’t the point; it was more about the outcome- was it going to be the opening of the gates for the road to hell? -so they say; or was everything set to vapourise into a dreaded anticlimax?

There wasn’t anything particularly remarkable about my start for the day. I forced myself out, against the will of my resilient body parts, from the cosy comfort of my king-sized mattress, went through the excruciating spells of my parents’ banter over my chores as usual and rushed to the lab. I had been well over a month into my corporate life – Vikhram V.S. (Project Assistant, Compliant and Bio-systems, IISc), and was anxious to draw my first pay check. A no-frills life in Bangalore and my uncompromisably prodigal ways with the phone had been strangling me by the scruff of my neck. I was desperate for some room and cushioning, to get into a comfort zone. And so, it was a good time for realising a month’s compensation- for toiling against convention, beating the odds and making the impossible into reality through seemingly logical surmises.

Okay, now that was not the dreaded anticlimactic ending I was talking about… only just a prelude to the great big happening that followed…

Excited about my temporary ascent by a few bucks, I left for home early. On the way, during the bus ride, I was pondering over how rationalistic a figure I was to hand over to my mom, besides how much to reserve for the phone bill, a hands-free headset, data cords and other inexcusable indulgences. It never quite hit me that it had been nearly two weeks since I had done what was expected of me for the ad-hoc processing, and it was now just a matter of time…

Grandma opened the door at 2.00 pm. I could notice an unusual sparkle and excitement about her normally grim expression. I didn’t really take that seriously though. If at all there was something, my dad would have already blown the whistle on it. He isn’t the kind to sport cheap thrills and surprises.

But I realised there was something when she ushered me into the Puja room and handed over a grey envelope from “#$%”. My eyes lit up instantly and I could see my gleam of hope, flash in all its resplendence, from the dull grey cover! My heart went for a dash; my palms suddenly felt numb and chill, as if I were sneezing through my worst bout of cold for hours; butterflies in their flight did hula-hoops all over my tummy; and memories flooded my cranium beyond capacity. I knew this was the moment of truth! I had waited for six months, pored over gigabytes of fundae and information, spent a few hundreds on useless long distance calls, and relived the trying experience of having my app reviewed all over again. And now the verdict was approaching me, FTASB! (for the uninitiated, it is a lazy jargon for Faster Than A Speeding Bullet)

I wasn’t prepared for this high speed chase. And so I took my time, with heavy gasps of breath. The metabiophysical reactions in my body rewound the clock backwards, and I found myself confronted by a roster of hostile questions-

Why did it have to be June 8?
Why not the 8-point someone at ITC?
Why not IIMB?
Why not Stan?
Why rediff?
Why that one particular grouchy chap?
Why me?!!

Alright that’s enough dude! Just open it.

When I opened the package, my most dreaded fears very nearly came true. There they were - my small blue booklet, intact; and the all important cert., battered and bruised as if out of a washing machine! It spoke volumes about their contemptuous attitude towards me, and us all.

My first instinct was to just look at the first available page in the booklet- nothing; next page- nothing here either; third page- not even a dot of ink! At that moment my heart came to a grinding halt; I almost sank in my posture! Go to the last page- no sign here too. Was there more to the already over-convoluted twist? The back-cover page- there was just this green sticker bearing the 4 ominous alphanumeric characters. Did they imply that the “pink slip” I got was for GOOD?

Of the few moments that followed, my memory is blotted and I don’t know or remember how but they just happened… I regained my composure, got back on my feet and virtually visualised the matrix of all my body parts before taking any action. I still don’t know what gave me the ridiculous brainwave that there are 36 pages in all eligible to get “stamped”, and that I had just covered no more than barely one-twelfth of the probability. And so I garnered all my will power and strength and patiently started flipping each and every leaflet. I even looked for invisible ink and UV marking! After all I am a mechanically aptituded technocrat. One by one I scanned- pg 2, pg 3, 4, 5.. ..10, 11, 12, 13- stop!

Voila, there it lay! Carefully nestled and concealed from everything, including a normal man’s sight or oversight rather. Six months of my sweat and agony in waiting, all for a 3-by-5 stamping! But I will take that, for it was well and truly my tryst with “The moment of Truth!”

I have one important question, which has been eating my head since, to put forward though – why page 13? Aren’t they the ones who contributed the infamous triskaidekaphobia to the rest of the world?

My experience closely relates to that of my project partner and good friend GREram who himself had to go through three full-fledged attempts. I suppose his summation of the whole thing- "Wham! Slam, Thank you Ma'am!" says it all. He will surely agree with me and wonder as to how, especially after 4 attempts, 2 failures and a "pink slip" between the two of us, we remarkably made it!

In the end, after perhaps a perfect ending with an anticlimactic flavour to it, I can only look back at an excessively quoted, ridiculed, clich├ęd saying of a few wise ol’ timers – All’s well that ends (well)!


Wanna know why?

I am here for a reason; and I am here for good.
I crave for freedom from the shackles I have on;
by Jove! I shall make noise... lots of noise!
You have naught for a choice
than to listen to my god-damned foghorn.