Friday, August 19, 2011

Visit to My First Office, the Place of My First Job

This evening I climbed those steps I had first climbed... thirty-one years ago. Yes, three decades and one years ago. I felt trepidation, anxiety, and excitement as I climbed those steps which led to the office where I got my first job. I worked there for only three months and each of those days seemed like eternity. 

As a fresh graduate I was thrown into this office, a job which followed a good friend's offer. I was unemployed after getting my degree in science and wanted to somehow earn money. So when a friend offered a job I fell for it. I was a science graduate and the company sold chemical dyes. Those days - more than thirty years ago - are still fresh in my mind. The sort of clothes I wore, the movies I saw, the books I read. Bell bottoms were a rage then and I remember wearing bell bottoms to work. The wooden steps of the old building, falling apart and encroached by hawkers and booksellers now, frightened me at first, as did the moodiness of my bosses. They were small men and didn't rise much. One was called "Dhansukh" (enjoyer of wealth) and being unlettered he spoke only Gujarati, which I didn't understand at the time. When he spoke I used to panic because I understood nothing. Nothing, at all. Forget him, for he was a very venal and restricted man. I don't think he came to much.

The friend who had given me this job, luckily, was working with me then. He would help me out from tight situations. I learned to lie to my bosses and keep them in a state of suspension all the time. Once my boss asked me what I was doing. I said nothing. I got a scolding for not doing anything. My friend told me never to say this. Always pretend you have lots of work, otherwise they fire you. Good. I was too honest and eventually I got fired. My first salary then was Rs 300 a month. But then a lunch with rice and chapatis cost only Re. 1.25 then. 

Everyday, with a lot of reluctance and dread I would climb the stairs of the dilapidated old building on D.N. Road, Bombay. The worn stairs would creak, the smell of paint would fill my nostrils - the office was being given a new coat of paint. I would smell the musty smell, the smell of carbon paper and typewriter ribbons, the smell of moldy letterheads and envelopes. 

I saw it today. I saw it as I made my way to the station. I never imagined I would do this thirty-one years back. I never imagined I would come back to inspect my first office. I never imagined that I would be me, better or worse. Those days were difficult, but I cherished them. I did what I wanted and didn't have the mantle of achievement constantly troubling me. I was only a clerk in a private business owned by a Gujarati businessman. But I remember being happy.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.

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