There is a reason why they call it the "Corporate World". It is a parallel world we live in, a world where we enter as adults yet begin our career with baby steps. We stumble, we fall, we try to run before we learn to walk, we skin our knees while trying to get ahead of ourselves. Starting a career is much like learning to ride a bicycle when we were kids, we were scared of the fall, we would often ground our legs to support when we felt that we were about to tumble, and in the process we would struggle to complete the pedal. But when we had that guiding hand supporting us we knew nothing could go wrong, we knew we were not going to fall. That hand would hold on to our seat tight urging us to go for the complete pedal, assuring us that nothing would happen to us. That hand gave us the freedom to pedal faster, that hand held us from falling to the ground, that hand gave us a belief that we will reach the last mile.
A good boss is like that hand which guides the bicycle, they give you the freedom to dream bigger, the will to pedal faster. They hold you from falling to the ground, and if you do fall to the ground they always lend you their hand to pull you back to your feet. And when you are confident enough to cycle without using that support, they slowly but surely withdraw their hand and stand their ground watching you ride away into the sunset. They wave you a goodbye, indicating that their time has come, and you no longer need their support. You have finally learnt to ride the bicycle.
We feel the touch of such gentle hands in our corporate lives, hands that pat our back for a job well done, hands that point out the mistake we have done sternly but then ruffle our hair with a smile saying "It's alright, but don't repeat it again." We get used to these hands, we get used to their warmth, their feel, their support. And just when we feel that we have held on to these hands tight, they let go of us in search of a new life, in search of building a new innings, in search of a new hand to hold on to.
A college life is different from the corporate life for many reasons. The friends we make in college life come with a date stamp, we know that after three or four years we all would drift apart. Yes we do stay in touch, but things would not be like they were. The bonds we forge in college come with an expiration date labeled "Valid only upto three-four years". But what about the bonds forged in the corporate world? Bonds in corporate world don't come with a date stamp, you never know when those bonds will be broken. The face we are used to seeing at work one day may never turn up, they could be let go or they may move on to bigger and better things.
She managed around twenty-five boorish brats, brats whom she treated like her kids. We were a bunch of guys and girls of all ages ranging between early twenties to late twenties, each different from one another, some were volatile and some were dormant. Some talked to the dozen and some rarely uttered a word. Some made a lot of sense when they talked, and some made none. Some were smart and some were as slow as a snail. But none of this mattered to her, for her we all were equals. She was always the first one to praise us for a job well done, and the first one to defend us when things went wrong. In all the mess-ups that I and the rest of my colleagues had done so far none of us could have heard her say "It's your fault". Instead we would hear "The mistake has been made, lets find a way to prevent it".
As she is spending her last days amongst us, we are still trying to come to terms with the fact on how would we spend the rest of our days knowing that she will never walk through that door with a spring in her steps greeting us with a cheerful "Good Morning guys!". No more would her infectious laugh reverberate through the halls, no more would we feel the touch of her arms on our shoulder telling us that "Tis too shall pass" when things go wrong, no more would she be there to share our juvenile fears and our ambitious dreams. We may promise each other that we will be in touch but deep within we know it wont be more than a couple of cursory "Hello and How are you?" on G-talk.
She was a friend, an elder sister, a guardian, a prankster, a believer, and at times a mother. When she walks out that door for one last time, she will leave us with a lump in our throats. But we will be happy for her, for she is beginning a new innings. Her absence will ache our hearts for a while. We would eventually learn to let go and get on with it, but these memories and the times we shared would always be imprinted in our hearts and minds wishing we had met anywhere but in the corridors of a corporate office. Someday when I look at the moments captured in camera, I with a wry smile on my face would look above and thank God for having made our paths cross. And I would thank her within my heart for having held on tight while I learnt to ride the bicycle.