A ribbon of smoky cloud formed in front of his eyes as he picked up his cup of hot coffee from the pantry. Jay, a seemingly regular retail professional, was hurriedly sipping his favourite black coffee. The burning tongue and few spills on the shirt didn’t matter today. What made him regular? His bespectacled look, vigilant gait, well-bred talk and his timely submission of excel reports! At least this is what his peers thought about him. He had met his target of the month and a freshly printed out paper found its place in his front pocket. As he was about to log out someone called out to him!

“Jay…”

It was his manager Abhinay.

There was an alarming dip in Jay’s eagerness to leave for home, and he replied as if a set of instructions ran through him. “Yes Sir.”

“We both know you are the best and you will not let me down.” Abhinay gave a tap on his shoulder, smiled and walked away. He didn’t even wait for Jay’s reply. It was not important for him perhaps.

Jay capped his pen left on the desk and extended hands to pick his bag while cleaning the dusty shelf in the process.  He wanted to catch the 6:52 pm local train from Rabindra Sadan. It was already 6:20 pm. With around 1.5 kms to cover and a massive traffic to cross, he started to run frantically. He scampered; adjusted his bag, stole few breaths and ran again. The sweat, the noise, the breathlessness, and the body resistance were helping to deviate his attention. 6:35 pm and Jay was already in the station; the only thing he wanted now was to reach his destined platform.

image 2

A nerve-wrecking volcanic heat rose under his feet. His usual platform number 1 was shifted to number 4 at the last moment. He gulped the fatigue down and tried making his way into the mammoth crowd that was to follow.  His fluttering in the crowd didn’t help. A high intensity jolt from the adjacent woman left him tethering to the ground.  It was 6:53 pm!! He had missed his train.

“Are you blind?” Strangely, Jay was at the receiving end of her scorn.  A woman in her late 30s with bundle of books and a bag in her hands stood in front of him. She continued, “I had to catch this local, you moron.”

imzge 3

“Excuse me, mam. I wanted to get there too. Please don’t use such language.” Jay was his usual chivalrous self.

“But you could….” Her deafening voice was stopped in between.

“It happens mam. No one does it intentionally. There is a train in another 20 minutes. Let’s wait for that.”

She was slightly astonished as despite the harsh comment he still kept his cool. “You should have been little watchful instead of running like crazy.” She retorted while staring at his official employee card hanging from his neck.

“I am sorry. Umm..I just had to reach home early today.” He said wiping the pool of sweat he was in.

“It’s my daughter’s birthday and like every other year I have to collect her favourite Funfetti cake as soon as I get down at my station.” Even she could not comprehend why she abruptly opened up to a stranger.

“Isn’t there anyone else at home to pick up the cake? I mean, you husband or parents? Sorry, if I am probing too much.” Jay didn’t mind suggesting few ideas to an unfamiliar worried mother.

“Ahh…he had some urgent meeting today. He would be coming late and I am feeling so bad for my daughter. These men are always going to be callous and detached.” The sentence finished but the frown on her face remained.

“Did you shout on him too?” A pin drop silence! Jay’s words seemed to unfurl in her mind several times.

She could only snub him off with, “That’s none of your business.”

“I work for a clothing brand. Out of the 3 outlets in the city, one is closing down next month. Unfortunately, I work for the doomed one.”

Without batting an eyelid he looked down and continued,   “I have been the best performer in my team for last 2 years. Yet, when the management came up with the option to retain only 2 employees in the same city, I couldn’t qualify. Right now I have a transfer letter in my right pocket. I already have a house here, my parents, my relatives, and my entire childhood. I don’t know how to put this in front of my wife. May be she won’t react that much, but this was totally uncalled for.” He looked visibly upset and shaken once he started blowing the lid off.

“Can’t you tell your immediate boss the same thing that you told me just now? Just go, and explain the possible things that are holding you back! Most importantly, tell him at least once that this is not fair on his part.” She headed straight to the point instead of painting the conversation with pity.

“I wish it was that easy! Do you realize I can straightaway lose my job for this or may be denied of any official privilege that I am getting right now?”

“You said just now that you are the best performer in your team. They need you too. Why are you making it sound as if they are doing some favour to you? Worst case, you would need to start looking for a better job in the same city. That’s it!”

Jay was motionless on hearing this.

She continued, “You know what the funny part is, I was the one who lost my balance today and collided with you. Still you stood there and listened to my shouting for no reason. Sometimes we need to be a hammer and strike when the need arises! If not now, then never.”

“Just like you have to be an anvil!” He smirked.

“Excuse me!” She was totally thrown off guard.

“It didn’t strike me before, but when you mentioned HAMMER something came to my mind impromptu. There is an old saying: When you are the anvil, be patient. When you are the hammer, strike.

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“So?” Came an aggravated query from the other end.

“See, we are no one to judge each other, but don’t you feel just like I need to strike like a hammer, you too need to be patient and calm as the anvil right now. Not because you are a woman, but not all battles are fought overnight. There is a time for everything. Sometimes you have to be in the position of an anvil and withstand the blow so that you can be in the place to strike later. It’s not about being invincible; it’s about getting up and fighting to stay on two feet every day until your time of being the hammer arrives.”

“The train is here…..” She hurriedly clutched her bag close and within seconds Jay lost sight of her in the stampede.

It is then when he realized that he was telling a stranger what all he wanted to tell himself. He realized two years of being an anvil taught him patience and gave an eye to plan his life gracefully ahead. He realized he is willing to get up and fight. He realized that he will not let others dictate his boundaries. He realized he still has enough strength within. He realized testing times will find him sooner or later, but he will need to comprehend the right time to be a hammer. He realized.

Two weeks later Jay and his platform friend’s path crossed again. This time they smiled and flashed thumbs up gesture to each other. The grin became wider and wider. They no longer had to shout to be heard.

image 5

P.S: All images are a result of Google search and I have no copyright over them.

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. Shewrites170 says:

    Sometimes a random interaction makes us aware of a different perspective and gives us an insight which was much needed to be aware of. Beautifully woven story. Good read !!
    Looking forward to reading more from you !!

  2. Akshit says:

    Great to see you back. Great read once again. Keep writing!! 🙂

    • The sabbatical was longer than expected but the warm welcome from everyone is really overwhelming. It reminds me that I shall keep writing and keep pushing the benchmark. Thanks buddy 🙂

  3. Sneha says:

    Beautifully expressed Indrani. Keep writing and enlightening us. Love it !!

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