You know how bright the eyes of youth shine, don’t you..? Do you remember how you were when you were 18-20 years old..? Remember how you simply KNEW that the world was waiting for you to come and win it… to win it, put it in your pocket and walk casually away, whistling your song of the day… a bit off tune..? The world was your oyster those days, wasn’t it..? You blo*dy OWNED it and it knew who was boss..! Remember…?
Something happened just a few minutes ago that gave me that feeling again- by proxy- so to speak. It has filled me up with a glow of such pure joy that I must spread the light in a world gone cynically gray. Allow me the pleasure of telling you the tale. The pleasure is rare to come by.
I was sitting in my office trying desperately to get through an impossible tangle of micromanagement obsessed situations and people, when the girl at the reception came to me saying there are three irrepressible young engineering students who’ve come demanding a job. They were ready for ANY job she skeptically reported, as long as they didn’t have to wield a mop and a broom. Barring a janitor’s job, all else was perfectly fine.
The receptionist was not only bemused, but also slightly outraged I think. The underlying menace of her words spread itself out between the words she used, cementing them into a solid wall. The menace was ‘Shall I throw them out?‘
No, there are no prizes for guessing what happened next.
Naturally, being the curious woman I am, I asked them to come in. What they said astounded- and confounded- me totally.
They beamed out the ‘world is my oyster’ confidence with innocent arrogance that endeared them to me instantly. I distinctly remember being as innocently arrogant as them once upon a time. sigh.
They ran on, these three young Gods, in a way only adventurous young kids can. I know I don’t need to tell you this but I will. Before they left, they planted a big part of their spirit in my soul. This is what happened:
They said they were fourth semester engineering students specializing in computer systems. They wanted one job- between them. This means- they were eager to explain- that I would get three people to work in relays- and will pay only one salary. Further, they breathlessly explained, I would have NO problem at ALL as regards coordination between the three of them was concerned. All they wanted, they said, was to be self-supportive and to stop asking their parents for money.
No, this is not extraordinary. There is more.
They told me they had left their home in the morning- on foot- determined to get a job at any cost. At present, my city is baking under a merciless summer sun. The temperature in shade is 43 degree Celsius. They told me they have walked 17 kilometers since morning…. reaching me when the sun was at its hottest… just after noon. They proudly told me that they were on foot even when all of them had bikes. When I asked why they needed to walk, they looked at me with a serene pride and said, “Ma’am we wanted to test ourselves and to see what we are made of… and how far we can push ourselves.”
I was floored. Completely and utterly sold. I wanted these kids… but I decided to test them some more.
I told them I had no job for them but that I would talk to them because I loved their spirit. I told them that I want to talk to them so that I can help them refine their pitch so that they would surely land a job at the next company they go. Their gratitude was a thing to behold. I can’t say anything more than that.
I told them the logistical complications of employing three people for one job… I told them about the difficulties an employer would face in accountability issues. I told them of complications due to communications gaps. They listened. Have you recently had three pairs of bright and passionately intelligent eyes make you the focus of their complete attention…? They LISTENED. I felt as if they had put me on a pedestal. It was a feet-shuffling moment if ever there was one.
They thought for a while when I finished telling them the difficulties from a employer’s point of view. They looked at each other and fell into an urgent whispered conversation. I left them alone and pretended to be busy with a phone call.
I saw a reflection of their discussion’s import in the eyes that bored into me once they got done with whatever strategy they had worked out. I was passionately assured that they would work it out between them… by leaving notes for each other… and making detailed reports when the next ‘relay’ reported for duty. With all their sincerity shinning out of their eyes, they told me their employer will not have any of the problems I had detailed.
With the typical seriousness of young crusaders, they asked me how they should pitch their three-in-one concept to the next probable employer so they would land the job. While my phone screamed itself hoarse and I jabbed the ignore button with impunity, I told them how to frame their pitch. Within minutes they got it. We did a practice run and they were ready to roll.
By then though, I had tested them enough. Their determination stood between us, immovable as a wall.
I couldn’t let them go, could I..?
I gave them an assignment. I told them I needed tele-callers desperately. Would they be interested? Their reaction was like I just dropped the Himalayas on their unprotected heads. Astounded, if you know what I mean.
I told them I want each of them to work two and a half hours. Their salary will be divided equally among them. They will receive a three day training for which they must find time.
Do I need to spell out their reaction..? I can say only that they had a VERY difficult time keeping still and not jumping up and down. They almost clambered over my table to give me hug.
I couldn’t help it, I peeked out to see them when they walked out of my office. I would have been very surprised if I hadn’t seen them hugging each other and dancing, prancing around by the side of a dusty road, in the hot sun. They gave each other high-fives like they won the jackpot and I guess from their point of view, they did. They were oblivious to the world. They had just looked the world in the eye and had wrested a victory from its unyielding, grasping hoary old claw.
Beyond this I don’t know what they felt. I can only speak for myself.
I know I needed this touch of Shiva in my soul. I needed this blast of sunshine in the bleak darkness of my recent days. I needed to be shown again that something that cannot be killed… CANNOT die. I needed that proof rubbed in my face with all the vehemence the universe possesses. I feel full of gratitude today. With unerring precision, He has lighted my path with the light that shines out of young eyes.
Thank you for this grace, my Shiva.