It’s been a really long while since I last came to my workplace. What with family functions combined with personal commitments on the line, as of today, I may have whole-heartedly used up and abused the yearly quota of one of the blessed flexibilities offered to my nature of job by my esteemed team: the option to work from home. Not ceasing once to be out of excuse, there always existed some reason, however mundane, genuine or grave, for me to connect from home for a couple of months.
Before the situation went out of control, my inner conscience [and my better half] started probing me and I felt incapable [read: guilty conscious] to put-up this act any longer. The same sense of integrity dragged my feet to my workplace on a fine Monday morning last week. I won’t deny, but it did feel good to be back amongst a social circle that seemed to outwardly care about why wasn’t I in the office all this while, how did my family functions go, where I absconded thereafter, and the more of the unsaid and the unknowns. In fact so much so that that Monday, I recall very clearly, felt like a holiday, considering it was dedicated to unbiased hi-helloing.
No sooner than I had finished talking to two people, it was time for lunch. I decided to proceed ahead without the others, seeing as they held other priorities. I walked down to the in-house cafeteria, ordered a meal, paid-up and stood in the queue to receive my plate. Just before I walk back to find a seat, the cafeteria has two televisions, one on each end, which characteristically runs a news channel. When I come alone for lunch, I prefer choosing a seat that faces either of the televisions, simply for the lack of facing anything more interesting. As I walked back to the seating area with the loaded plate balanced on my hands, I looked for the ‘right’ place to sit. Considering I had come for lunch at a peak time, almost all seats were taken, save one or two here and there. I chose the closest seat that suited my preference.
As I looked at the tables around me, I saw a group laughing over a seemingly jocular incident. On the other side, I saw a double-jointed table where people were splitting and sharing their lunch across. Folks who had brought homemade lunch shared their curry/ gravy/ pakodas, while scrounging on chips and papad from others who had plastic plates not unlike the one I did in front of me.
I found myself travelling back in time when I had newly joined my place of work. Put-up in a bachelor accommodation with three other girls, we had had our share of fun gossiping about the who’s and the what-not’s over a cup of home-brewed cappuccino into the wee hours of morning. My workplace bore a similar, however an unduplicated taste. A group of ten-odd people went for lunch together – few of them at the mercy of cooking at home or by a family member, while the others at the mercy of the cafeteria. The chips and papads from those plastic plates gone in a second [I still remember how I used to safeguard those], to getting some amazingly wonderful gravy on the side; the tea and coffee breaks where the work bay would temporarily vacate yet again, to the random how-busy-are-you-not-much-okay-let’s-go-for-a-walk-the-weather-is-so-nice; the work, the timelines and its success, birthdays, April Fool’s Day – every single lil detail was a cause of celebration.
Weathers change. Times change. In some cases, people do too. So why should have been my work atmosphere any different? Folks prioritized. Marriages happened. Counterparts joined the same company. People looked for a change in location, and some of them changed their jobs. Some quit, while others simply left without an explanation. And, we are all now split.
* Nyaabagam Varudhe in Tamil literally means coming to remember. The derived meaning indicated for this post is down the memory lane, based on the theme Nostalgia.
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