The office ambiance transforms overnight when the festival of light,- Diwali approaches. Its not just
the entrance or the reception, or the plush false ceiling. Suddenly the prude front office assistant
beams and sprinkles friendly smiles, the office peon is eager to know your choice of hot drink, the
watchman of the parking lot reserves the most convenient bay for you and colleagues of other
departments begin to flash smiles forgetting all the conflicts from the conference room. Naila felt
amused to receive looks she received for wearing her regular jeans and a block -print kurta, hair in a tight ponytail and wedge sandals, instead of flowy embellished chiffon traditionals with near
backless blouses exposing enough to trigger gossip-mongers, the dangler earnings, clanking bangles and a shiny decorated bindi on the forehead. The pencil heels on which the ladies struggled to stand, leave alone walk erect and balanced concentrated taking each step like a trapeze walking her first rope walk.
Naila always held that the office was a place to work and produce results, not to show off ‘assets’ or display your flair for fashion, collection of jewelry or make-up skills. Of course holidays had been granted for all the significant days to celebrate, get decked up and merriment at home. Yet the inherent instinct to flaunt and then make several trips to the Ladies to ‘touch-up’ was an excuse to skip desk work most of that day. Naila wondered how on one hand these ladies wanted to be treated as equals and yet wanted the exclusive and unrestricted liberty to treat an entire working
day as an 8 hour party. It all seemed so hypocritical yet entertaining.
The Boss and promoter Mr. Agrasen, was a weird odd character, who believed he carried the looks
of Hitler. He often posed with a trimmed mustache, and paced the corridors marching like military, much to the hilarity of the staff! Referred to as aggro(vated)-sin, he used to express his utter
displeasure – even disgust at all the cheerful decorations, dressing up, the fraternizing and get-
togethers of the office staff for Diwali. ‘Worship just the Laxmi (Goddess of wealth)- all other days are a waste of time’ he used to try imprinting on the staff. For someone who had had to sacrifice all the
time with family, birthdays, anniversaries, traditional festivals for years together, it would obviously be hard to understand the significance of bonding, caring and sharing time with family and friends on an occasion like Diwali. He had invested time to ensure that only the specific day he deemed auspicious, was worth granting a holiday to the staff. Naila understood his psyche and was cold towards the provocation, unlike other staff who muttered under their breath or scorned at the
It was also the time of the year when salaries were handed with a bonus for the festive shopping. A
mark of appreciation of effort the dedicated staff round the year. But for the tyrant of a Boss any
form of acknowledgement or appreciation meant spoiling the employee. Truly predictive, he began
the day announcing how he id not even have money to buy his children crackers for Diwali! ‘Here goes…’ Naila thought M2M (mind to mind). What did that have to do with salaries? Or the effort put in round the year? Or the commitment to the employees? Why were most Promoters of mid sized organisations such skinflints? Especially when it came to showing appreciation just once a year, that too at Diwali time? Even if a measly box of 250 grams of sweetmeats was not handed out like alms, a genuine wish and word of Diwali greetings would have lit up the skies. But how could a man with so much darkness inside have understood what it is to light up someone elses’s world? The final punchline for the day before the short festive holiday came, when Aggro-sin walked through the space between the desks, in his typical military style, where Naila and her colleagues were posting e-cards to their Customers. ‘The ladies should ideally deposit a part of their jewelries in the office, as rent for the office space that helps them earn their salaries and Diwali bonuses’, he bombed! Who would have realised that a Hitler-like eccentric brain would fall to such doleful, woeful and pathetic levels, on the eve of an eclectic festival of Diwali.
Naila shook her head feeling sorry for poor lonely soul. A hardcore optimist, she sincerely hoped that this Diwali would bring light to his spirit and heal the bitterness inscribed on his heart.
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November 15, 2020