Thursday, January 03, 2019

Corporate Politrics - 5 (chapter 1)

Prior episode

A recap of the main characters who have appeared till this episode:
  • Vignesh (Vicky) - Team Lead. Hoping for promotion; competing with Karthick
  • Bob - Vicky's client
  • Gokul - same team as Vignesh; Senior Software Engineer; married
  • Merv - same team; hired by Karthick; Associate Software Engineer
  • Karthick (Sir Karthick) - Team Lead

(THE PAST continued)

Merv hadn’t done much for the day but he felt tired due to the unsolved issue. Since they would have to wait a while to know if rerunning would magically solve the problem, he stepped out of the secured area in search of friends. Unknown faces looked up to see who was intruding their cubicle space. At this hour, the ones who remained in the building were those who were seriously working. The casual timepass employees were back home by now. Finally he saw a familiar face – Sreejith, who was part of their lunch gang, was slumped in a chair. Only his head was to be seen above the table.

“Hey, what are you still doing?” 
Sreejith’s cubicle had full attendance.
“We have a prototype demo on Monday.”
“Your boss is not around?” Merv searched for the friendly teddy bear face of Sreejith’s boss. 
“He never came. Told us to complete this by Monday. And told us to keep him updated throughout the weekend.”

Every desk had a small whiteboard near the computer and all four whiteboards in Sreejith’s cubicle were filled with data – grids, tables, algorithms and even some sketches drawn in frustration.

“According to Vignesh’s corporate politics theory, as they climb the ladder they work on only presentations and spreadsheets.”
Merv proudly said, “But my boss is online.”
“Don’t tell me he’s helping you.”
“He’s trying,” Merv defended.
“Nothing like that. You’re dreaming. Just because he’s logged into the machine doesn’t mean anything. He will be logged in but romancing his wife.”
“He’s not married.”
“Ok. His girlfriend.”
Merv shrugged his shoulders.
Sreejith said, “Our boss is also going to get promoted like yours.”
“To PL?”
“Ya. Crazy – he has years of experience but no skills. Look at his place; you will see a line of certificates as if they are Oscar awards.”

Merv peeped into the single seater cubicle; even training completion certificates were proudly displayed as if they were hard to get.

“We’ll do everything, all the dirty work. He’ll get an update from us and copy paste that to the world as if he knows everything.”
Obviously all four of them in the cubicle didn’t like their boss since Sreejith was talking loudly.

            Vignesh was completely drenched in the rain but he kept walking at a slow pace on the main road with vehicles on either side honking. On one of the main junctions on Mount Road there was chaos since the signals were not working and there was no traffic policeman. Vignesh continued on a straight line unaffected as vehicles swerved around him. Tears rolled down his face, mixed with rain water. He felt the rain Gods were also crying with him.

He found himself on the right side of the road near the Gemini flyover, a prominent landmark in Chennai that connected four main areas of the city; on one side was the American consulate and on another side a premium hotel. 

Many people huddled under the shelter offered by a bus stop. Vignesh instead sat on the footpath in front of the bus stop with his face buried in his palms. An auto-driver came very close to him and paused for a while. Vignesh certainly didn’t look like a potential passenger since he was already drenched. After a while, unaware of how long he had spent sitting, he walked to the underpass used for crossing the road. A few people were crowded at the entrance, peeking from time to time in the hope that a bus would show up. The steps heading down were wet and there was a little water stagnating at the bottom.

Inside the underpass there were a couple of men in ragged clothes lying on opposite sides. Vignesh wondered why there weren’t more such men in this place; it seemed safe to spend the night. The man on the left was well equipped; he was lying on a bed-sheet and had another bed-sheet to cover himself. The man on the right didn’t have any sheet; his torn shirt was a khaki shirt similar to the ones worn by bus drivers. Below his waist he had something like a half length dhoti. It was hard to guess his age because he had an unkempt beard and his curly blackish brown hair was falling over his face. His thin legs had open wounds, the sight of which pained Vignesh. The man used a couple of soiled Tamil newspapers as mattress. Vignesh walked slowly, observing every action. Behind the man was a partially squashed plastic bottle with some brown fluid inside that looked like tea or coffee. The bottle was between his back and the wall. It was as if he were guarding a precious possession because even if he closed his eyes, he would know if someone tried to take the bottle. The man suddenly bolted upright as if he had an urgent appointment and crossed his legs. He looked to his left to see Vignesh, a harmless passerby. He had seen many people today but seeing someone wearing a jacket and yet being drenched was something new. The world was crazy the man thought to himself. He picked the bottle gently as if it were fragile. Beside the bottle was a small white plastic cup that was smeared in dirt. Vignesh noticed a faint smile on the man’s face as he poured the tea slowly into the cup. No hurry, no wastage. The tea was adulterated with lots of water. He slowly sipped the liquid from the dirty cup which he must have used a hundred times. He smiled with each sip, unaware that the drenched passerby was staring at him. The man was lost in his own world of joy with his cup of tea. There he was lying in the underpass with stains on the walls, puddles of muddy water in front of him, mosquitoes buzzing around, open wounds that hadn't healed and there he was smiling with his watery drink.

Realising that he was staring for too long, Vignesh moved forward. Hardly had he taken a few steps when tears rushed down in full force matching the downpour outside.

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