He was staring at that patch on the floor. There was a fly sitting on it, fluttering her wings. He kept looking at it absently for long. Time was not an issue. Or may be time was an issue, because it was too much and he had nothing to do. He was alone with his thoughts, literally. The whole campus had left, all his friends, most of the staff too. This small shop was the last place where one could have a cup of tea. This college is among the top 10 MBA colleges in the country; there are students all over the country, preparing day and night to get admission in it, while their mothers make the late night coffees.
A dream and mission of lakhs of families. A college which promises the moon; an international hub of learning and placements; how deserted and lonely it seems now as if the soul had left the body and an obscene carcass is lying wide open, abandoned even by the vultures. Untouched. Untouchable. He never knew when it hit him. He had always been the most cheerful guy in the campus, an undying optimist. He had strong faith in the reputation of the college and his own capabilities. So what he could not convert the last 2 chances of the job interviews, he could crack the next one. He prepared day and night for last 2 months but did not get the next opportunity. Some blame Trump, some automation in IT, some unstable economy, few even blamed the demonetization. He did not know all that, he knew nothing anymore. All he knew that he was working well in an IT company for 5 years, got bored, prepared for and cracked the entrance exam and got admission in this college. The one most important thing which was missing in this detail, which he did not want to remember and could not forget, was that he took a hefty loan of 17 Lakh Rs for this college. If you spread it even to the duration of 15 years, it will still amount to the EMI of Rs. 18000 per month. He checked his account at the time of last withdrawal from ATM, he had Rs.1700 left.
He stood up, left the Rs.10 note at the table. He did not want to look for the guy who worked at Dhaba and have an eye contact with him. His eyes had questions for him. The same questions the guard, the cleaning lady and the mess guy had. Why was he still on the campus when the course got over 15 days back and when everyone had left? The world was full of questions and question marks now. His wife's hello had the questions, his father's blessings had the questions, his friends' assurances had the questions and even he had the same questions. When? When will he get the job? If he does not get the job then what will happen? Where will he go, what will he do? His room was on the 4th floor. He did not take the lift. He wanted himself to force and see the reality, to punish himself for his unbridled optimism. He paused and looked at each floor and tried to remember which of his friends stayed in which room. The whole building which was the epicentre of world's noise pollution for a year was now as silent as a corpse. He had no one to talk to. Reached to his room and opened the laptop. Checked his emails, naurki.com, IIMjobs, monster, LinkedIn, there was nothing nowhere. He took his resume again and checked for each punctuation, each coma, and full stop again. There was no scope of any mistake now. The next call he gets, he had to convert it. But when will he get the chance? Had this college betrayed him? Wasn't it the responsibility of the college to get him placed or at least provide him with enough opportunities when companies had become so choosy. He was not asking for a Microsoft or Google now, he was not craving for an aspiring role or profile now, he was asking for a job. Just a job. So he and his family could eat. Things had come down to food now.
Finally, he had to leave. In few days the next batch was about to come and before college asked him to leave, he started packing his bags. He did not know where to go, but he had to go. He knew how his each day will be like in his home. He could beg on the street and could tolerate the loathing in the eyes of strangers but he did not have the courage of facing his father. His voice shook when he asked his wife to forward his resume to her friends. How low could he fall down to? He packed slowly, looking at each book that he was assigned to, each assignment and case study that he studied, and each register that he filled with notes. How useless and meaningless it all seemed now. He left the college without looking back at the gate where its logo and name stood tall. No, he will not look back. He won't come back here ever, not even to this town. This is not what a decent human being was supposed to go through, what he had to bear. And this college was responsible for that. He will not forget or forgive. His journey was 17 hours long, but he did not have the reservation. Because booking a ticket signified the planning and purpose of visit, a thought which he could not entertain. He reached his home anyhow.
1 year ago he left it with hopes and dreams and now came back with sadness and debt. He did not visit home even on holidays because he wanted to come with a job in hand. He lost today. The experience of next 3 months of his life is still unspeakable for him. How he spent 15 hours every day on a laptop and put the cotton balls soaked in glycerin on his burned out eyes at night. How he sat wearing a tie and suit in front of the laptop whole day in scorching summer. How he took out the last bit of energy from his collapsing body; keeping his smile intact while greeting the random faces on skype, trying to please anybody and everybody.
He fought hard, gave his best and finally got a job in a start-up with a salary of 1 lakh rupees less than what he was earning before MBA. With a smiling face and clenched fists, he accepted the offer. He did not call his batch mates when he got the job. He did not celebrate with a bottle of wine. This was not worth celebrating. He stayed put. He asked the bank for extension of EMI for 1 more year. This was the time to keep the head down and work hard. He charted out the plan of the next job switch. Wrote on a paper where he wanted to go and what were the skills required for it. The whole day he worked to earn bread for that day and whole evening at home he prepared for future. Studied and learned. Kept on looking for better, kept on giving interviews on weekends. Finally, one prestigious firm offered him a decent profile and salary. A 50% hike! As he broke the news, his wife hugged him tightly, tears rolled on both of their cheeks. That night after dinner, he took a beer and sat for a long time on the roof, alone, reflecting on what he had been through last 2 years. In last 2 years he broke down many times, there were few things and emotions that he could not share with anyone.
There were few things that even he did not understand well. Today he got the hike of around 40% over his pre-MBA salary, so was it a wise decision to do MBA? And even if it was, did this hike justify and compensate the mental agony he went through? He did not know. He just kept looking at stars. Slowly reliving each day of success and failure in his mind. A roller coaster ride; which started from the preparation of MBA, the ecstatic moment of getting the call letter, the friends he made during MBA, the long lectures, good and bad professors, joblessness, a grossly underpaid job at a start-up, hard work and finally ended at a good job again. It was a hell of a ride! His phone blinked, he saw 2 Whatsapp messages: one from his MBA batchmate who got the biggest package on campus; he was complaining about how stressful his job was and how badly he wanted to quit and another message was from an aspirant who got the call from his college for MBA and was asking whether to join or not. He smiled while sipping the beer. He did not know what to say to either of them.
Please let me know in the comments below if you liked the story.