The peon came to Patil’s table and said: “Sir is calling you to his cabin.”
Patil was a very hardworking and devoted employee of the company and was, therefore, very sure that the Boss must be calling him to tell him about his promotion. Even his colleagues sitting next to him joked: “Patil, we expect a party from you.”
Patil entered the Boss’s cabin with a broad smile on his face… and with great expectations. “May I come in Sir?”
But what his Boss told him then, totally deflated his balloon of expectations.
“Look, Patil, the company is absolutely satisfied with your performance, but you see how fast the times are changing. We too have to keep pace.”
“Sir, I don’t quite understand what you mean to say.”
“I only want to say that henceforth the company will use robots for its work and therefore, will not require a big staff. The Board of Directors has, therefore, reluctantly decided to relieve you from service.”
“But how can such a decision be taken? Tell me if I lack somewhere?”
“No, actually it is because of your outstanding service over the years that the company has decided to reward you with a fat package. Now, just go home and enjoy life.”
“How can I ever enjoy life? My mother’s surgery is pending, the landlord is pressing for an increase in rent, the cost of living is shooting up… this fat package will be blown up in no time. I need a job, Sir… a job with a steady income, otherwise I will be doomed. Kindly do something…”
After hearing Patil’s plea, the boss was somewhat moved.
“Look, there is a way out but it is pretty tough.”
“At least tell me, Sir… I will do anything to keep the job.”
“We have purchased four robots… one for each floor, but after all they are just machines, and have to be given orders. If there is a breakdown, it has to be repaired immediately. So, to look after the robots, there will be one person on every floor, whose world will consist only of the robot, computer, internet, wifi… nothing else. Ah, and no holidays either! It is going to be very tough, I have told you as much.”
“I am ready, Sir. All the terms and conditions are acceptable to me!”
“OK then, wish you all the best!”
From the very next day, Patil’s mechanical life started. Leaving home before eight o’clock in the morning, carrying the lunch box given by his mother, then sitting in the cabin on the second floor of his office in front of the computer, eyes glued to the screen. Move a bit when the back became stiff and put the eye drops every few hours as advised by the doctor. Leave for home at eight p.m. to face mother’s questions.
“Are you home, son? Must be very tired, isn’t it? Would you like to have a shower first or shall I serve you dinner?”
An exhausted Patil could only say: “Do as you please mother, I don’t have the strength to say a word more.” Mother observed the son himself gradually turning in to a robot, working with one daily. Earlier, he always used to sit with her after returning from office. “Ma, do your legs hurt so much? I will very soon arrange for your operation. You have great faith in Lord Hanuman, don’t you? I will take you to his temple this coming Saturday on my scooter, but you will have to hold me tight, lest you fall. That will create more problems!”
But now, only the echos of their laughter remained.
One day, she heard some very disturbing news from the office peon who had come to Patil’s home on some errand. At night, after Patil had his dinner, she asked: “Son, you did not tell me that Mr. Mehta, who worked on the third floor of your office, died yesterday of a heart attack?”
“Yes, but what could you have done?”
“I am more hurt knowing “how” he died. Despite his repeated pleas to you on the intercom to come to his cabin, you did not respond and remained glued to your work. You were never like this! At the slightest call of distress, you used to run for help. You have changed completely my son” said the deeply hurt and sad mother.
“Mother, now please let that be. Vora and Shah from the first and fourth floor had gone there, but what could they do?…You always say that what has been ordained cannot be changed; what more could I have done in that case?”
“Son, those two who ran to help him were only recent joinees and being young and inexperienced did not know how to act in such an emergency. Had you gone there, perhaps it might have made some difference.”
“Mother, now please leave all that talk and go to bed. I too feel very sleepy. Tomorrow, I have to go very early to the office… have to shoulder some additional load from Mr. Mehta. Good Night!”
As the excess from his eye drops ran down Patil’s cheeks, pearl-like tears flowed down his mother’s, at the same time. Perhaps she was paying the price of her son’s turning in to a robot from a human being with her tears.
From a story by ASHA VIRENDRA
(1) People trembled at every word that the lips uttered.
Now the lips are trembling to utter one!
……That is old age!
By Rushabh Shah….slightly modified.
(2) This time too will pass,
Just be patient,
When happiness could not last,
How can sadness?
By Mahendra Dalal