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She hadn’t anticipated the fiasco. There had been murmurs of 'improper dressing', but this time the situation had escalated to a boiling point.
Sheena leaned back in her office chair. In a week from now, her team from the Human Resources department would be launching a survey to ascertain if their organization was employee-friendly. ILMY, or to be precise, I Love My Organization was the brainchild of the new CEO. He had also set his expectations clearly to Sheena’s team. “I will not accept a positivity rate of less than 95%!” He had declared that in a firm voice, and had dismissed her ifs and buts with a nonchalant wave of his hand.
Sheena rolled her eyes. There goes the survey down the drain! As it is, her team was under pressure to roll out ILMYon time. And now this! The employee had not only sent a scathing email to her, but had marked the top management in copy. The ramifications were immediate. The CEO had called her instantly, and had asked her to nip it in the bud. Whatever that meant!
Sheena let out an audible sigh. I cannot afford to postpone it! Let me deal with it! She unlocked her laptop and clicked on Microsoft Teams. Her eyes scanned the contacts. She began to type.
Hi Adwait! Would you like to come to the HR room to discuss your email?
Sending a silent prayer to every God she could remember, she pressed the Send button.
The reply was instant. Ok!
Sheena straightened her back and took a couple of swigs from her water bottle. She hadn’t anticipated the fiasco. I should have! What else is an HR professional for? There had been murmurs of improper dressing, but this time the situation had escalated to a boiling point. Her thoughts were interrupted by a soft knock on her door. She looked up.
“Come in!” she said.
“Sheena! The name is Adwaita!” The voice was soft, yet firm.
“I have initiated the procedure of name change. It will reflect soon in the office records. Sorry for the delay!” Sheena managed to mumble.
Adwaita continued to stand near the door. “You addressed me as Adwait in the Teams conversation, Sheena!”
“I apologize for it, Adwaita. Please come in!”
Adwaita sauntered in. Smiling at Sheena, she took the chair opposite her, crossing her legs as she did so. She adjusted the dupatta of her beige kurta, and as she did so, the glass bangles on her right hand jingled.
“Thank you, Adwaita, for agreeing to meet me!” Sheena drawled.
Adwaita nodded her head, but said nothing. A tendril of hair escaped from the clutches of the brown hairpin and fell over her forehead. Using her right index finger, she tucked it behind her ear.
Sheena cleared her throat. “I apologize on behalf of Krishna! Rest assured, we will take the most stringent action against him. Our company follows a zero-tolerance policy towards harassment of any kind of its employees!”
A bemused smile hovered over Adwaita’s lips. “And….,” she paused.
Sheena raised her eyebrows. Now what is this new drama?
Shrugging her slender shoulders, Adwaita spoke, “And things will be back to normal if you sack Krishna?” Her eyes bore into Sheena’s, almost taunting her.
“O… Of Course!” Sheena mumbled.
“Will you not find out what prompted Krishna to behave like this? Yes, his behavior hurt me deeply. But his prejudice stems from his ignorance. Your organization insists on trainings like sexual harassments at the workplace. And I appreciate it, Sheena. Truly! But have you made any efforts in making your professional environment inclusive? Are you aware how many Adwaits and Adwaitas are fighting for something as basic as acceptance?”
Adwaita paused for a second. Sheena kept mum. She continued, “That’s why I sent this mail to you. I know I sounded rude. But I had to do this! The higher management has to take accountability. Not Krishna! Or for that matter, any other colleague!”
A moment of pregnant silence ensued. It was interrupted by Sheena. In a soft voice, she replied, “I understand, Adwaita! And I take responsibility for what happened to you. I will start sensitizing the employees on the LGBTQIA+ terminology. I should have done it long time back. I’m so sorry!”
Adwaita got up. “I am glad you got my point. A request, Sheena! Don’t sack Krishna. I have forgiven him.”
Sheena nodded at her. As Adwaita closed the door gently behind her, a new one in Sheena’s heart opened. To embrace diversity and inclusiveness! She began to type an email to the CEO. The Friday party can wait! Sheena smiled.
Editor’s Note: 31st March is Transgender Visibility Day. May our workplaces and even the wider society become more inclusive.
Image source: a still from the film Listen, Amaya!
I am an IT professional, lost in the monotonous world of Excel. So, I seek refuge in Word, pun intended.
I write for various literary platforms and have quite a few anthologies to my credit.
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If her MIL had accepted her with some affection, wouldn't they have built a mutually happier relationship by now?
The incident took place ten years ago.
Smita could visit her mother only in summers when her daughter had school holidays. Her daughter also enjoyed meeting her Nani, and both of them had done their reservations for a week. A month before their visit, her husband told her, “My mom is coming for 4-5 months!”
Smita shuddered. She knew the repercussions. She would have to hear sarcastic comments from her mother-in-law for visiting her mother. She may make these comments directly only a bit, but her servants would be flooded with the words, “How horrible she is! She leaves me and goes!”
Are we so swayed by star power and the 'entertainment' quotient of cinema that satisfies our carnal instincts that we choose to ignore our own subconscious mind which always knows what is right and what is wrong?
Trigger Warning: This has graphic descriptions of violence and may be triggering to survivors and victims of violence.
Do you remember your first exposure to an extremely violent act or the aftermath of a violent act?
I am pretty sure for most of us it would be through cinema. But I remember very vividly my first exposure to aftermath of an unbelievably grotesque violent act in real life. It was as a student at a Dental College and Hospital.
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