“Asset, not a liability”- 12 July 2011

Nandita’s biggest liability was also her biggest asset, which she did not take much time to realise once she started working as a chemical analyst in a start-up pharmaceutical company. She had just passed out with her M Tech and picked up the first job that came her way.

That was her need. Her mother was very ill and needed a lot of money for treatment, which her father’s income could not support. So, Nandita got going in the job from Day One, with full concentration so that she could finish her day’s work quickly and get back home without delay. There was a lot to do at home – cooking, feeding Mother, helping her younger brother in studies, taking care of Father’s things, going to market etc. She could not take part in office groups and did not have time and also inclination to indulge in gossip sessions (which often promised a lot of spice). Nandita was not a loner, so to say, but she did not have time to indulge in senseless socialising.
One of her colleagues – who had actually become sort of a personal friend at work – even said, “Look Nandita, you are so young and so full of life. But problems at home seem to pull you down. You cannot take part in office groups and have no time to sit down leisurely to talk with others. This will not take you much distance, I am afraid. Unless you mix with people and form power bonds, you will not progress.” In response, Nandita only smiled, said nothing, and got back to her work. She had a lot many things to do. Just a couple of weeks earlier, she had talked to her boss and asked for an additional assignment, if possible, so that she could earn a little more money which she needed so badly.
Of course, in her mind, she did ponder over the friend’s remark a little: ‘Why should this happen to me? Why hasn’t life given me a little spare time so that I could make friends with more people? Is Mother’s illness my liability.’ Of course, she did not allow this thought to linger long in her mind. She told herself, ‘No, this is my responsibility, and I will handle it with care and concern.’
Her boss, a fat and beautiful woman in her mid-fifties, was happy to give Nandita some additional work as well as a silent responsibility of compiling details of various researches on a drug formulation. The company was working on a new formulation and needed such research assistance. Nandita fitted in well. She worked hard and gave a lot of material to the core research group. All this deprived Nandita of even whatever little time she had every day at lunch hour. She ate her lunch real quick and rushed back to her desk, leaving behind gossiping colleagues who seemed to enjoy the loose talk about happenings in office. All made savage fun of her, spoke silly things, indulged in utter nonsense about her personality and character, which her friend, of course, did not like and fought bitterly in her favour. For her part, Nandita would tell her friend to stay away from all that, but the friend had no inclination to listen to her advice.
Meanwhile, things were changing in Nandita’s favour, slowly but invariably. Her mother had started responding to treatment favourably. Father was naturally happy with his daughter whose help had proved so critical to the family’s well being. And at work, the boss had got a promotion due to Nandita’s work and passed on the good feeling to Nandita by promoting her also well before the time. And as she did that, the boss told Nandita why good things were happening. “Look dear, I watching you closely,” she said. “You were focused and did not allow yourself the temptation of indulging in loose talk that takes place routinely in offices. You know that your mother was not well proved to be your asset, not a liability, because that forced you to stay away from loose talk and office gossip and politics. That forced you to ask for more work, which brought you not only more money but also the present promotion out-of-turn.”
Only gratitude flowed from Nandita’s dark, beautiful eyes!

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