She nodded, taking a long pause and then whispered, "Leave me alone." He blinked once and then sighed before he spoke in one single word... low, measured, deep, "Never!" She kept looking at him. He did the same. When she didn't reply to this, he held her hand and made her sit before him, facing him. Holding a strand of her wet hair coming in the front of her face, he pushed it behind her ear. It...
Nandini wrapped Dobby’s leg in a bandage, set him in a basket, covered him, packed his food and settled him inside the building watchman’s cabin, who had agreed to take care of him till she came back.
Every day, when she came home late, she would feel guilty for the puppy, but not anymore.
She drove all the way to the Bangalore Medical College, where a walk-in interview was scheduled for aspiring Resident Doctors. When Nandini entered the hall assigned for the doctors to wait, she was flabbergasted to find hundreds of doctors assembled for few SR seats.
She talked to a few post-graduates and found several lady-doctors applying for the OBG posts. She was asked to deposit copies of her certificates at a table and wait for her turn to be called. It was not a problem as her appointment at St. Martha’s was at 2:00 pm. But when Nandini deposited the form, the fees, and the certificates, she found that her number was 135!
Ohh mannn!! 135 applicants for 2 posts!!
When she sat with them, the ladies had graduated from AIIMS, New Delhi and PGI, Chandigarh, and JIPMER Pondicherry! Such prestigious institutes and with experience already!
She was a newbie before them. She had graduated from one of the best colleges in Mumbai but not in the league of the National Institutes. And she had no experience. She sat waiting for her turn.
The interview went well. She was asked about her qualifications, papers presented in conferences, publications in national and international journals and so on. But she knew that the interview going well was not even a criterion for selection. There were only 2 posts. They would go to the doctors holding experience and with degrees from premier institutes.
Next, she had to go to the department at St. Martha’s. She drove all the way to the hospital in heavy traffic, hoping to get a call from BMC. While she was driving, she got a call from Bangalore Baptist Hospital and saw a message from Hinduja.
She loved the hospital and department at St. Martha’s. The interview went well, once again, and they asked her to wait for their call. She wasn’t hopeful though as the candidate next to her was a local politicians daughter-in-law. It was very unlikely that the said lady would be left waiting to accommodate Nandini. It didn’t happen like that.
Manik was in his office, dealing with a pile of administrative work at his desk. Being a Creative Head, he had to approve the sanctions for each of the works of the design team, send the budget estimates, approve the marketing plan for his team’s collaboration with the client. He was still working on the post-submission work of the project approved on Saturday when he received a message for a high-level executive meeting.
The meeting was not only draining and stressful but terribly insulting. His immediate CEO Shobha Diwan raised the case before the disciplinary committee that they had lost a big project offered by Artemis International.
“You need to give a written explanation as per the details of why you thought it was so unimportant for the company to deal with Artemis that you turned down conditions from them.”
“I didn’t do anything like that.”
“CEO of Artemis has lodged a formal complaint against you.” Shobha hissed. She was a mean woman, jealous of Manik’s rising reputation in the company and before the MD. She knew that he was a threat to her CEO post and she wanted to get rid of him.
Such meetings were supposed to be confidential and between few people, but Shobha had ensured that it was attended by all top-level executives. One, she wanted to insult Manik. Two, this was a perfect opportunity to let everyone know that SHE was the boss!
“Excuse me, Madam, but the advances were of personal nature and I didn’t find it appropriate to respond to ideations of such nature.” Manik sank in his chair, reclining comfortably in his plush leather chair. He never entertained nonsense and was ready to face any consequence, whether from Artemis or his own company. But he didn’t let people dictate terms to him.
He neither explained his position to everyone nor let it hanging, “I will write to the disciplinary committee in an email and write in detail about the tortures that I endured during this episode and on the everyday basis.”
Shobha was taken aback with his stance. She was scared that if he names her for harassing him mentally, then action will be taken against her too. Hope he didn’t do that because, after that, it will become more difficult to work together every day.
She let the MD take the call. MD explained to Manik and the rest of the executive committee in measured words. “Mr. Malhotra has every right to take a call and inform us regarding the same. The meeting was called to inform all of us that we have received a couple of complaints against him.”
Manik smirked lightly. He knew that the complaint was done by Shobha and her chamchas, regarding stupid, petty issues. It wasn’t possible to point fingers on his working ethics and dedication, so they found silly issues against him. It was a stupid formality to listen to charges against him.
Manik huffed visibly while ignoring the complainants and turned on his phone kept in his lap. He scrolled the pictures on the screen, while others spoke. He had been craving for a look at Nandini.
Her peaceful face and loving eyes. A dose of serenity in this noise. He missed her. Her voice and her touch.
Bangalore Baptist Hospital saw quite a good number of patients from local populations and rural areas of Karnataka. Nandini was asked whether she could converse in Kannada, to which she replied that she would begin to learn it. The doctors interviewing her were very happy with her resume and grades. They liked her personality but the Kannada language was the only concern.
This was terrible. The doctors there were so good. Highly qualified and experienced. It would have been amazing to work with them. But alas!
By evening, weird despair crept inside her. Since morning, not even a single doctor had spoken demeaning things to her. Not even at one place, she had been insulted or spoken rudely with. She had received an amazing response everywhere and doctors more than welcoming to her. Still, she felt very very low…
It was one of the most depressing days of her life. She didn’t like the air of hopelessness around her. Was it so difficult to get a job of your choice… an experience gaining post that you would love to work at… It didn’t have to be that great a struggle. She knew that she will get a good seat, one of these days and there was nothing to be worried about. Still, she didn’t like the feeling.
She felt lonely! The doctors and the staff at all the places were unknown strangers and spoke different languages. The city was busy, with high traffic all over. It was hot that day and it wasn’t a good day for her.
She missed Manik. The way he wrapped his arms around her in a warm embrace and made her feel secure. Like she needed no one else in the world.
She decided to finish the last meet-up with the HOD at Hinduja and then have coffee, before calling Manik. It was evening already and if he was about to be free, then they could go home together. This particular meeting was an informal meet-up. Tired, she waited outside the HODs office.
Post lunch, Manik gave the written letter as well as the email to all Board of Directors and executives that he was not responsible for the loss of project and he didn’t take any responsibility of other complaints against him. They were all vile and conspiratory in nature.
He was told that he was not disturbed in last one week because they had a project deadline to meet but now onwards, he will be strictly scrutinized till all charges against him were cleared and all investigations vis-a-vis Artemis were completed.
It was defaming and terribly insulting. If Manik had his way, he would have resigned then and there. Who wanted to work in such a hostile environment! But he didn’t.
He was not an escapist. He was not a loser and certainly not weak. He knew how to fight for what was right and he couldn’t leave before proving his innocence. Still, it was bitter to find your CEO and colleagues plotting against you. He didn’t know whom to trust and whom to doubt.
Another meeting was scheduled by evening. Shobha Diwan didn’t leave a stone unturned to get Manik suspended for the time being but his reputation and past work performance spoke for him and MD didn’t suspend him.
“See, I allow you to defend your case while investigations are on. You will be scrutinized.”
“It’s fine with me!” Spoke Manik confidently, not feeling good about it but still hopeful about the outcome because he knew that he was innocent.
Shobha intervened, “But we can’t let him work on the next project. I propose giving the charge of the next project to Dhruv Vedant.”
Manik threw a shocked glance at Dhruv who was surprised himself. This was Shobha’s toxic plan to break him away from his friends.
“But Dhruv is junior to me. Both in experience and qualification!” Manik protested in clear words. He would have been happy for Dhruv if it wasn’t Shobha’s plan and if Dhruv deserved it. But Dhruv was in the company for only 2 years and held a correspondence diploma in management against Manik’s MBA from IIM. He was still learning from Manik. To supervise work alone was not in him and it was going to be extreme harassment for Manik to work under him.
Dhruv didn’t like it when Manik protested against him. MD dismissed the meeting saying that he was keeping the decision pending for a day.
Dhruv didn’t talk to Manik after coming from the conference hall, showed high attitude and snubbed him off when Manik tried to talk to him.
“Dhruv, just listen to me…once!”
“Manik… I don’t want to talk to you. I didn’t know that we are just junior-senior. You are the boss and will remain so… you are jealous of me…”
“Jealous??!!” Manik was flabbergasted.
“What you achieved in 4 years, I’m getting so soon…”
“What nonsense!” Manik nearly yelled at him. They were in the corridor and attracted quite a lot of eyeballs due to the altercation. Manik composed himself, “Listen, come to my cabin. We’ll sit and talk.”
“Sorry! Going home now. Not interested in talking today. We’ll talk tomorrow!” Dhruv was hurt, saddened and left the corridor and the office, leaving Manik flustered.
The HOD at Hinduja was a pleasant lady who loved Nandini immediately. After small talk and detailed assessment of her degrees, she spoke in a poised, loving voice.
“See, we don’t have a post here. But seeing your resume and application on Friday, we decided to give you a call because we have a post in Chennai. It’s not like we are not getting doctors in Chennai. But there we have a lot of camps in areas where we have a load of Marathi speaking population. We need a doctor who is well versed with English, Hindi and Marathi language. You are from Mumbai, are young and energetic, well suited for this post.”
The smile vanished from Nandini’s face when she wet her dry lips with her tongue, “But Ma’m, I’m newly married. My husband works in Bangalore. That is why I shifted here.”
The senior experienced lady smiled and said, “See, it’s up to you to decide. I can’t force you. But if you take my advice, adjustments and compromises at this stage of career reap heavy benefits later. You don’t have kids. No responsibilities on that front. It’s time to work hard and achieve something.”
“See, if you really want, it’s not like isn’t workable. It’s hardly an hours flight to Chennai. Either of you can travel and you can meet on weekends. Hundreds of working professionals with jobs in different cities manage like that. It’s not something weird that I am suggesting. And it is just for a year or so. Meanwhile your husband can try to get a transfer to Chennai. I’m sure his company has a branch in Chennai. And then we have a fellowship in IVF techniques in the same hospital. We will give you high priority when considering that! If you want, you can manage and you should do that. If you don’t want… we will find another candidate.”
Nandini left the office with an upset state of mind.
Four hospitals. Zero outcome.
Life was sometimes difficult.