May 6, 2011

Dead Line

Click, Click...clickclickclick...

I try to shut down the slow PC in irritation when the clock strikes 9 in the night.
Another frustrating day at work...uncountable volumes of emails flooding my inbox, more than half of them having my name in To:,demanding immediate action on my part with subject lines  
screaming out urgency. The ones having my name in Cc: also sit in my Inbox helplessly because the person in To: gives a damn...

The CPU whirrs and doesnt seem to die as soon as I want it to....I kill it with a five-second press on the Power button. A sinister smile creeps on my face, like I avenged it for having made my day  
I thought to myself as I waited beside the lift ..."Good god, what was this routine I have fallen into? Is life all about mouse clicks and MS Office now? How many lunches have I skipped? How many  
breakfasts have I missed? 4 cups of coffee a day from the vending machine was all I had one day! What is this life!?! Nothing but deadlines!"
The lady embedded in the elevator moans again..."Ground Floor..Please close the door"...repetitively...I feel like pulling the woman out of the walls and slapping her real hard.

Life wasn't like this before..There was time. There was hope, there was the enthusiasm to wake up and live life each morning. There was no worry about missing the bus to college because there  
would always be a friend who'd stop the bus midway till you caught up. These days no one cares. Everyone wants the others to miss the bus.

        And then you could laugh at a could crack a could show sadness, you could show could avoid people you didn't like, or get close to the ones you did. You knew people  
by faces and names..not by their email addresses or employee IDs. Your smile didn't use to be so plastic.
       Now mornings are dull. You wake up, look at the watch and wish you didn't have to wake up and go get dressed. You wish you could have five more minutes of sleep, your mother keeping your  
morning tea beside your bed, and nudging you from sleep. You wish it was that sort of a morning which makes you want to wake up and embrace the day. But what days? They all seem the same  
now...days of the week no more have names, it's either a working day or a weekend you have on your calendar.

        I look at my face in the mirror each morning and seem to age by the day....I look at the newspaper while sipping the cold bitter tea, a page features a young executive all bright and bushy, carrying  
a fat briefcase full of dreams fulfilled by an education loan from some bank. I find myself not relating to the model in the advertisement in any damn way, and turn the page away. I'm getting late...
          The moment you step out into the city, people barge past you. Thousands like me all around, each sharing common woes but not having the time to recognize the commonality. Every ID card (I call it  
'Noose with a nameplate') hanging around different necks seems to mark us out, pathetic people with boring jobs, trying to make themselves count in some industry..

               Your best friend in this phase of life weighs around 100 g...may or may not be 3G enabled, but loses its battery life everyday to keep you connected: to family, to love, to work, to friends....
Or when everyone else is gone plays the FM/MP3 to cheer you up. I love my phone now, like I have loved no one else before.

              When after all the trouble of making it to the gates of your workplace is over, I stand and wonder...What if I turn back and leave? The organization wouldn't crash with me missing for 9 hours, would 
 it? The crowd behind me doesn't give me the time to wonder any longer, and I move ahead.
If it was college, I could have implemented something called a "bunk" without leading to HR issues.

The 12 hours of misery start there and then...the noise of elevators singing...the cramping of 20 people into each one, getting out, getting in....I realize I have spent much more time traveling  
vertically in the past couple of years than horizontally in all my life.

          You walk in through the building, greeting everyone whether you want to or not. They give you a corporate template for making anyone's day by saying: "Goodmorning, 'First name'!" with a smile  
that can give hope to the dying. The speaker and the listener both know it is most unnecessary, but the ritual is carried out each day, without fail.

The day crawls by, slowly...the clock at the corner of the desktop seems to be showing the same digits all the time. The printer prints, the monitors flicker, the vending machine churns out coffee  
beans in a messy heap, I feel like a little crushed bean in the disposed heap as I fill up a paper cup with Cappuchino...

Calls keep coming, extensions keep buzzing...discussions keep going, mails flow...things are prioritized, and deprioritized, people share Excel sheets more than feelings..."Minutes" are no longer  
relevant to time, but meetings..

I look at my own handwriting scribbled in a notepad and fail to recognize it. Back in college it used to be beautiful...I realize I havent lifted a pen anything except putting down a signature in a long,  
long time....

A poster on the remote notice board beckons employees to take guitar lessons, or salsa classes, or karate sessions....many a people who once loved strumming their guitar walk past it...people who   
loved to dance don't have a second to spare for the notice, Black Belts now come with a Blue one one has the time...there's work to do, lot of it...

Your existence is lost among Word Docs and presentations...You Copy whenever you inhale, and Paste everytime you exhale...
I look at myself...trapped inside a 4 by 4 cubicle...a seemingly ergonomically well-designed armchair that swivels, bends back, goes up or down, but doesn't prove good for the health; doesn't add  
anything but flab to my body after spending 9 hours in its lap..

The PC looks at me and I look back at it with disgust....for having it shoved in my face: the instrument provided to me for displaying all skills I have acquired, all knowledge I have gained, and  
showcasing what I received in 20 years of education behind me...with this one tool...sheesh!!

               I relax by sending and receiving forwarded emails...with subject lines like..."Amazing nature snapshots", "Tips to avoid Carpal Syndrome", "Amazing Love story", "Open only if you can fwd this!!!!!", 
 to "Corporate cartoons that can make you laugh!! :D"...I open the last one.....and find myself somewhat resembling the characters...
I close the mailbox in a hurry when my supervisor walks by....these will be the parameters considered when you're evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5....
                 I find it funny, how your performance gets more broadly categorized as you grow up...from 1 to 100 in a grade system from 1 to 10 during graduation....and finally ending up on a scale as  
narrow as 1 to 5...which generally means, that in a thousand,if you are rated three,  there are at least 500 other people working as good as you, 300 better than you, and 200 doing worse...really  
funny if you come to think of it.... 

You can't find a moment to spare a look at your family photo pinned up against the wall of the cubicle, or the idol of God you placed beneath the LCD monitor the first day of a job you thought would define you...Your bottle of water supposed to be filled up remains empty till you get the time...
Work comes and gets completed, deadlines get met, some get extended, today's headaches are saved for tomorrow...leaves are asked for, and rejected...keyboards clatter, mice click, CPUs  
whirr, windows & tabs open and close...all in a day's business..somewhere you try to distinguish one day from the another based on some incidents happened, some faces seen, some people met,  
some issues goes on... days without dates, faces without with sugar, or without sugar...come and go..

Before I realize, it's already 9 in the night....and I decide to call it a the time I get home, it'll be too late for dinner...hope to just grab some sleep and straighten the aching backbone before  
another day starts..another deadline to meet...

The CPU whirrs and doesn't seem to die as soon as I want it to....I kill it with a five-second press on the Power button. It whirrs its at its loudest before suddenly falling silent. A sinister smile creeps on my face, like I avenged it again for having made my  
day hell..and my life meaningless.

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