Ragini works hard in office, feels guilty about leaving her child alone. Yet, she isn’t considered for a promotion. What does she do next?
Two bright yellow circles floating on a bed of viscous fluid. A quick vigorous stir, a shower of bright green leaves finely chopped and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Poured onto the steaming hot pan and the liquid disappears leaving a golden brown thick omelette just the way Ragini likes.
In the coffee maker is bubbling the delicious smelling coffee. At the other end of the kitchen her husband Raghav is getting the milk bottle ready for little Tia while keeping an eye on the toaster popping up toasts for breakfast.
Each morning is alike for them, the same routine, the same breakfast and the rigamarole of their jobs lined up for the rest of the day.
“Remind me to pick up bread and eggs for tomorrow in the evening,” Raghav urges her, without turning to look at Ragini.
“Okay, Okay,” replies Ragini with a sense of urgency. She looks at the clock; it’s 7:15. She just has half an hour to get herself and Tia ready. She is in a cheerful mood and is looking forward to her day ahead.
She moves around briskly putting the breakfast on the table. While Raghav goes and hands over the bottle of milk to Tia who is snuggling on the couch with her Teddy bear.
Ragini disappears to the bathroom for a quick shower. 45 minutes later they are on the way to their respective offices. On the way they drop Tia to her daycare while Ragini takes a cab to her office and Raghav continues in the car to his workplace.
Ragini looks at her watch and clicks her tongue though she has a buffer time of 15 minutes. She has always been punctual, always reaching the office before time.
With the baby’s responsibility and the heavy traffic in the morning, she considers this as her achievement and each day, feels worried lest she breaks the discipline.
Balancing between family and career has not been easy for her since the time that Tia was born.
Chasing deadlines on marketing projects, staying back late nights working on presentations, and sacrificing many holidays attending meetings, Ragini has been fiercely dedicated and sincere to her job.
Each time she went for the product launches, Tia was left behind in the care of her husband or her mother-in-law who was requested to come in to help them.
Ragini has fought back the guilt-ridden nagging conscience mocking at her for her ‘failure’ at being a good mother. She has also started suspecting that her mother-in-law and many of their relatives considered her selfish and inefficient.
She craves to spend more time with Tia, to talk to her, to watch her frolic around the house, to feed her with her own hands, to dress her up and take her to the park to play or to attend neighbourhood birthday parties.
But her work leaves her not much time for any of this and every time she returns and finds Tia sleeping, her heart wrenches and lets out a cry.
She has discussed these feelings with Raghav and many of her friends who have told her that she was doing a great job and she needn’t feel unhappy about any of this. That it was a passing phase and she would eventually emerge a winner.
Their words have always been reassuring and kept the boat sailing for Ragini.
Despite feeling physically and mentally drained she has felt immensely satisfied with her performance at office. Her seniors at office have always been appreciative of her work and she has been promoted twice in the span of four years before Tia was born.
After Tia’s birth, Ragini has not got any promotion or award. She has also not complained, understanding fully well that during Tia’s sickness she has many a times been forced to take emergency leaves.
That on these occasions, she did not let her work suffer is an argument that she does not want to hold. However for two years now, she has tirelessly put in her heart and soul to work, and it is there for everybody to see, and she is confident of a promotion.
Ragini is on her way to office in the cab. She contemplates whether she should return home early and plan a dinner with Raghav and Tia to celebrate the occasion or whether she should keep it for the weekend.
The traffic light turns red, and she urges the driver to end the journey not having the patience for the U-Turn. She emerges from the car and moves zigzag through the lines of vehicle and crosses over to the other side of the road.
Maria is at the reception and flashes a big smile at her as the doors swing open.
“Good morning Ragini”, chirps Maria. “You are spreading sunshine today,” she says looking at Ragini’s bright yellow kurta which she has teamed up with parallel pants.
Ragini’s boss Sridhar emerges from the conference room looking jubilant. “Our brand is a roaring success across the markets and the management is extremely happy. Let’s have a meeting at 11 with the entire team to plan our market visits.”
That rings a bell for Ragini. She would have to make a call to her mother in law and request her to move in with Raghav and Tia for a week.The rest of day passes off in one meeting or another.
By 8 o’clock Ragini wraps up the day and goes to meet Sridhar. She is feeling excited eager to get the letter announcing her promotion. Some words of appreciation from her boss and and a warm handshake congratulating her.
Sridhar smiles at her as she settles down across the table. “You have done well during the year Ragini and I am happy to handover your increment letter to you. The management has shown some concern over the leaves that you have been taking.
“However they are confident that with your persistent hard work you will surely make your way to a promotion next year”.
Ragini feels a jolt but she just smiles and after a brief conversation starts back for home. On the way she gazes out of the cab’s window. She ponders over the last two years and thinks if she had made a mistake.
A week later she submits her resignation. And in a month’s time she is launching her own advertising agency. She has realised that: There are no mistakes, only opportunities.
This short story had been shortlisted from among many, for the September 2020 Muse of the Month contest.
Featured Image Source: screen grab from a Tanishq ad
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