Monday, July 29, 2013

The Last Day

I walked with a brisk pace to my cubicle. I was already late and Today was the day I had chosen to present my new algorithm to my boss. In my hurry, I almost bumped into a couple of people on the stairs. What was up with everyone, trying to bump straight into me (?). I had no time for that. What with all the talk of mass layoffs and the big boss's knowing glances, I didn't want any more reason for them to take me out.

When I finally reached my cubicle, something made me stop on my tracks. My team lead Akshay was asking a facilities worker to take away all my belongings and put them in a box. All my nightmares since I overheard that conversation between my managers last week had suddenly come alive. This is what it felt like, being told to go. Being told that the place I frequented or even haunted if you count the number of midnights spent here, was no longer mine. I looked at him closely. There was more than a twinge of sadness on  Akshay's face. It must be the big boss, who's making him do it. Akshay always liked me.  Maybe, they sent me a mail this morning. I'd heard that’s how it was for a bunch of people in the customer care department when they got fired.

I decided to wait, to compose myself before meeting any of them- my (ex) team mates. Then I saw them all huddled together in the conference room. Not a single person had a smile on their face. It was obvious even from a distance that usually cheerful banter was completely absent. Reena and Shashank almost looked like they had been crying. I wondered if they were all being fired.

As soon as I saw Akshay get into the meeting room, I decided to go to my seat unseen, one last time, before they cleared it out. I looked at my cubicle with wistful eyes. “Good Bye, my Second Home“. My gaze shifted to my locked computer screen and realized that more than anything; I wanted to log in and see my layoff email. Maybe I should delete my personal stuff too before somebody realizes how many copyrighted Bollywood songs I have downloaded. I sat down on my chair and typed the password. Nothing happened. The ever familiar key board and mouse were refusing to do my bidding. I bent down and verified that the cables were connected. Then the unthinkable happened. The two facilities people walked right through me and picked up the chair I was sitting on, as if I didn't exist.

Then it hit me, precisely like the bus that hit my bike as I was rushing through peak traffic to reach the office. I was not solid anymore, only a meager spirit that lacked even the power of touch, which people walked right through, someone of no earthly consequence. As I was walking despondently away towards the exit door wondering what was ahead, I noticed my notepad on the floor. My algorithms ... my solutions. I wished there was some way I could save them from certain death at the jaws of the paper shredder.

It  was only inches from Vineeth's' cubicle. Vineeth, my best friend, who had worked with me on this project. I’d overheard the bosses talking last week that he'd be laid off in a week if he didn't present a working algorithm by then. He was absently walking back to his cube with some print outs, sense of direction obscured by the mist in his eyes. I wished, with all my might, that he would see my book. On perfect cue, a wind blew out of nowhere knocking down the print outs in his hand. As he bent down and examined my notes, I could almost see him smiling through his tears.

With one final glance back, I made my exit. It was my last day after all.