Untamed By Time
It was around 9 O'clock
on a very important day for our company. For, we had to make an
important presentation to a visiting Japanese delegation on the
progress we made on the project they had assigned to us. I made
a phone call to Prasad, the Creative Director of our company. "Hello
Prasad, Varma here. How's is the presentation?" "Sir,
good morning, it will be ready by the time the delegation comes.."
"Damn it! Prasad you should've been ready with the presentation
by now," I said in shrill voice while ending a mobile phone
conversation as I stepped out of my car which was parked in front
of my office building, "our clients expect us to inform them
of the progress we've made on their project so far." As I was
proceeding towards the office building, I saw a boy of about 10
years in age standing before the office entrance. He wore a torn
t-shirt and seemed to be anxious to say something to me.
"Hey, you! Want to say something?" "Sir, shoe polish,"
said the boy as he pointed towards his routine tools - a box of
shoe polish, a piece of cloth, a shiner and a stand for the prospective
clients to put their legs on it while they are being served. Although
I was annoyed with my Creative Director Prasad for his negligent
and lazy attitude, I realised that in the midst of the hectic office
functions, meetings and lengthy deliberations I hardly managed to
find time to polish my shoes since number of days.
"Bring your stuff here," I said. The boy entered inside
the office compound with his equipment. I simply placed my foot
on the stand and as if that this was an order from my side, the
boy polished my shoe. I could witness my shoes' instant transition
of my shoe from an apparently worn out condition to a sparkling
black pair of shoes. "Take this," I said as I gave a two
rupee coin to the boy. "Sir, five rupees," the boy demanded.
I casually placed my hand in my coat. Unfortunately, I was holding
only a bunch of five hundred rupee notes in my purse. "Boy,
keep this two rupees for now." "Sir, I want five rupees."
"Listen, whatever may be your name," I said in an agitated
tone "if you don't take this coin and get lost from the office
premises within next two minutes, you will be thrown out by the
security. So take this coin and go."
"My name is Ballu," said the boy "and, if you cannot
afford five rupees, then it is better that you keep it for yourself."
Saying this, Ballu placed the two rupee coin in my right hand and
hurriedly rushed out of the gate.
"What an arrogant boy!" I said this to myself in complete
amazement. Just then Prasad rushed towards me and said "Mr.
Varma, the presentation is ready and I can explain it before our
clients, if you permit me." "Are you sure? Some ten minutes
back you were saying the presentation is still being prepared?"
"Mr. Varma, I prepared it the last evening itself. But the
problem was that I accidentally deleted the entire folder and I
." "Oh! You and your excuses, Prasad," I interrupted
him, "your real test now lies in presenting the progress we've
made on the project. I can see the Japanese delegation approaching.
Let's go and meet them."
Prasad began the presentation
with the Japanese salutation and I must admit that I was completely
surprised by the manner in which he encapsulated all the finer points
of the progress of our project, evaded giving hint of the insurmountable
hurdles we experienced so far and responded to each query satisfactorily.
"Namaste and Dhanyavaad," said Mr. Tomichi, the head of
the visiting Japanese team, "I have no doubt in my mind that
we made the right decision when we decided to do business with your
Chairman - Mr. Varma."
"The pleasure is all ours," I said with a widely elated
face. At the end, the Japanese delegation endorsed our work and
the progress till date. They even initiated discussion on the possibility
of handing over two of their upcoming projects in India to our organization.
"I never knew
that you're the kind of man who always has an ace up his sleeve,"
I remarked encouragingly as I was leaving the office premises with
Prasad and two of my other employees. "Sir, I just tried presenting
everything through PowerPoint Presentation and that was . it..,"
said Prasad blushingly. "More implicit than PowerPoint Presentation
was your personal talent, tactful approach, unambiguous communication,
cheerful face and ." I was trying to use some more adjectives
in the praise of Prasad - contradictory to my own approach in the
morning. At that very moment my chauffer intervened abruptly to
inform that my car is ready.
gentlemen! See you tomorrow," I said as I opened the door of
my car, kept my coat inside and soon closed the door after sitting
in the back seat. As the car moved a few paces ahead from the office
premises, I could see the shoe-polish boy Ballu running towards
the car. "Stop," I instructed the chauffer while I was
unpacking the memento the Japanese delegation had offered me. As
the car stopped, I thoughtlessly reinstructed "Hurry up! We're
getting late." The car moved with tremendous speed and soon
Ballu was out of sight.
The following day was supposed to be quiescent and drab like most
days in the office where we neither have to clinch a deal nor convince
our clients about the progress of our projects; instead most of
our staff was just supposed to stick to a sort of daily timetable
- reporting on a particular time and signing out with the sunset.
And it was not compulsory for me as the boss to specifically oversee
the progress of the routine work. Yet the charm of directly or indirectly
supervising employees is in itself a tremendous motivating force
which compels me to go to my office day after day, week after week
and month after month - with no leaves, zero late-coming round the
year and the daily working hours overstretching and overspreading
into the night.
As I stepped out of
my car I again saw Ballu, the shoe-polish boy at the entrance. I
silently gave a ten rupee note to the chauffer and asked him to
give it to Ballu. "Sir, the 'shoe-polish' boy has refused to
take this note. Instead, he wants to talk to you," said the
chauffer. I thought for a while as to why this boy refused to take
a ten rupee when he was asking just five rupees for polishing my
shoe yesterday. Then I said to the chauffer: "I've no time
to spare for this fellow. You can have a cup of tea with this money."
"Salam, Saab," said my chauffer thankfully.
I entered my office
and was soon flanked by my employees who sprang on their feet to
stand on each side of my way till my room just to say: "Good
Morning!" I lifted my hands in the two different directions
and reciprocated the welcoming gestures of the employees by waving
my hands in the air with a cheerful smile.
I entered my room
and gave a ring to my personal assistant Sheela through the office
extension: "Please come to my room immediately." Sheela
was a young and efficient girl in her twenties. She was beautiful
and at the same time good in grasping the crux of her tasks and
acting accordingly. "Sir, this is the project completion report
of Sharma & Sharma Company." Sheela submitted the report
on my desk "What about our overall internal quarterly progress
reports?" "I'll get them in a moment," Sheela said
and she immediately rushed out of the room. Within next two minutes,
there was a knock at the door.
"Come in, Sheela,"
I said. To my utter surprise, it was Ballu, the boy who polished
my shoe yesterday. "You? What the hell are you doing here?"
I said in a very angry tone. The boy stood silently for a few seconds.
He searched his pocket and forwarded a purse full of five hundred
rupee currency notes. I recollected that these were the same bunch
of notes I was carrying with me yesterday. Besides money, it also
contained a small photograph of my mother, my ATM Card and Car Driving
License. "Where did you come across my purse?" I enquired
in a polite tone. "It fell from your pocket while you were
entering the car yesterday. I ran after the car but it moved speedily
and soon disappeared from the place," said Ballu.
I started counting
the notes. There were 20 five-hundred rupee notes - Rupees ten thousand.
That was exact cash I was carrying with me yesterday. I was amazed
at the honesty of this boy. "Ballu, take this 500 Rupees note
as a reward for your honesty," I said. "No sir! I can't
accept it," Ballu said. "Why not?" "Because
it is your hard earned money. But please pay me my full remuneration
when you come for shoe-polish next time." I searched my pocket
for small change. Fortunately, I came across a five rupee coin.
"Please take it, Ballu," I said while standing from my
seat "I'm sorry for not paying you yesterday itself."
"Thank you." "Wait. Ballu. Do you have any elderly
person such as your father, brother . I am mean anyone who is not
"My father drives
a rickshaw. My sister is a bar dancer. My mother is suffering from
cancer and has been hospitalised. My other brothers work from morning
till evening doing petty jobs." "Why don't you send one
of your brothers to our office for a job.?" "Thank for
the offer. But we're fine the way we're. Namaste." Ballu said
this with both hands folded and left the room abruptly.I realised
the common folly of corporate persons like me who believe in capitalising
on every available opportunity compared to the naturally straightforward,
hardworking and self-respecting people of our country who treat
every day happenings as part of the monotonous occurrences of their
mundane life right from a tender age. It is a real pity to experience
our helplessness in alleviating their sufferings!
Contributing Story Teller
Syed Muzammiluddin is a long time online content writer
and a dedicated Wikipedian.