Shrawan came from a small centre, almost a village, to join the company as a trainee executive. He had passed his MBA from a college in his area with decent enough marks that fetched him the job. What made the critical difference was his honesty. To the interview board, Shrawan said simply, “Sirs and Madam, I come from a village, and do not know anything about how to live in a city. I may have done well in all the exams. But that still does not mean much. If I get this job, I promise, I will make the difference you may be looking for. I will never let you down.” And as he said this, Shrawan clamped up. The board members were impressed because Shrawan spoke a simple but correct English and expressed himself freely. Obviously, the boy has had good grooming at home, they thought.
Right from the first day at work, Shrawan set for himself rather a scorching pace of activity. At the workplace, on the first day, he went to each and every person in his large section, introduced himself, and sought to know from each his or her name and other details. From the next day, only Shrawan started calling everybody by the name — Dilip Sir, Rekha Madam…. At the lunch break, he offered everybody whatever he had brought from his Aunt’s place where he stayed.
“This boy is different,” said a senior who had been with the company for well over ten years. “He seems to be deeply interested in life. He has talked with everybody right yesterday when he joined,” the senior said.
Of course, things were not as smooth as they might have felt on the first day. For, subsequently, Shrawan realised that he was falling short of other trainees on many counts. He spoke a rustic English with no polish. He spoke a rural Hindi that may have had its own charm but did not match the urban Hindi others spoke. His clothes were too simple and devoid of any city-looks. And more importantly, Shrawan could not handle computers as efficiently as did others. And, with boys, he was okay, but with girls, he was as awkward as awkward could be. Nobody laughed at him, but Shrawan realised that they pitied him.
Shrawan hated being pitied by others. Why should they? — he asked himself. But he could not help it. For, his background was his real bane. Soon, Shrawan started feeling bad for himself.
It was during one such moments of feeling bad for himself that Shrawan found himself seated in the crowded cafeteria opposite a senior from another section. The man looked kind and ever-smiling. He realised Shrawan’s embarrassment at not being able to hold the coffee cup properly. Some coffee spilled on the table, and Shrawan wanted to vanish into thin air.
“Never mind”, the senior said. Shrawan looked up in half surprise. The old man said, “Look son, I know what is happening around here. I also heard from the interview board members that you have lots of ideas for your own growth. So, never mind this coffee spill, or your rural accent, or your simple clothes. Just get going. Follow your instincts and your own agenda. Cheers.”
That changed Shrawan forever. For, since that day on, he never worried about what others said or thought about him. Outside the office, he started attending some English-speaking classes and made for himself a few good clothes after his first salary.
Of course, things looked easier said than achieved. Yet, Shrawan did not lose faith himself and carried on. “It is only a matter of time,” his father had said to him as he was about to leave home that fateful summer afternoon.
To Father’s faith, Shrawan decided to be honest.
That was where things started changing for the better. Sure enough, Shrawan started making his presence felt in the office. He was everywhere — stretching himself beyond himself, beyond time, and beyond the expectations of any of his seniors. At the end of the day, he would be very tired, so much so that one evening, he dozed off to sleep on a bench at the club house and woke up only the next morning.
But by then, everybody had started realising the hard work Shrawan was doing. The effect was favourable. For, the bosses cut his training period of one year to just eight months, and here was Shrawan with a full pay and a load of confidence in himself.
This story speaks of a young man who made light work of the otherwise daunting difficulties because of his cultural lacunae. To me, this young man represents the best of human spirits. Today, when the tendency to whine is on the rise, Shrawan stands for conscious efforts. He does not complain. He may have felt bad and sad for a while, but picked himself up when the senior showed a little understanding. I would consider him a good role model even for urban youths.