When Ambition & Reality Collides

What is FIFO? How is it different from LIFO?        (1)

“FIFO & LIFO are concepts in the supply chain cycle that indicate the order in which goods in the production line must be placed and moved out. As per FIFO – First In, First Out – goods that are stacked in first need to be removed first for consumption purposes, whereas in LIFO – Last In, First Out – goods that are stacked last in the production line must be removed first for consumption purposes.”

“must be…removed …first for …consumption …purposes.” Maya muttered under her breath as she traced the words on her answer sheet. “And …done.”

She lifted her head that had until been then resting on her forearm and replaced the pen cap over the nib. Maya bundled her answer sheets and tied them with the white thread the supervisor had supplied her along with the extra supplement. She skimmed through both the question and answer papers once, pinned the former to her writing pad, gathered her stationery, tucked her water bottle under her armpits and clutched the answer sheet between her fingers. A warning bell rang sharply across the hallway as she headed toward the examination supervisor. “Five minutes!” he called out to the room at large, as he wordlessly took Maya’s answer sheet from her outstretched hands. Maya waited as the examiner scanned the few answer sheets he had received thus far to place hers in order of their roll call. He jerked his head a few seconds later, a sign Maya took to be the blessed confirmation of leaving the assessment territory. As she exited, Maya heard the supervisor call out to the students to tie their answer sheets first, an instruction she knew only too well to have been disregarded by all until the second they could postpone it to. For, the handful that sat in the hall still writing their exam were busy scribbling with their pens across the single-lined sheet at varying speeds.

As Maya walked to the residential hostel next to the academic campus, the two facilities separated by a high wall, her insides concocted a rollercoaster of emotions. She was through with her fourth and final semester of her post-graduation degree. Although this semester had only six subjects – when compared to nine in each of the other three – Maya had three backlogs to clear from the previous semester. She had to if she wanted to receive her certificate, officially instating her with the label of an MBA holder, alongside her batchmates. A significant part of the fourth term had taken up her batch’s time and efforts in indulging with corporate internships and submission of a thesis in their opted majors. Maya had bagged none of the apprenticeships that came to her campus as she always fell short of skillsets or general know-how. It had been a vicious cycle. She heard from her batchmates now and then about how they didn’t want to land such internships in the first place. Then why apply? Maya would seethe at them. On the upside, she had enjoyed putting together her thesis, for her chosen concept belonged to a subject that she hoped to make a career out of someday – Recruitment & Hiring.

As Maya climbed the hostel steps to her room on the second floor, she thought of the past two years that had now seemed to have whirled past in the swish and flick of a magic wand. This campus had been her boarding point all this while. She was free to go without having to return to it for a fresh year or semester. She could leave once and for all. Back home. The one prospect she was looking forward to more than anything else in her immediate future.

Maya latched open the door to her room with the key her roommate had handed over to her two days ago. Having completed her exams with zero backlogs, Maya’s roommate had left home earlier leaving the entire space to her. Maya gave the sizeable room a glance to digest the whereabouts of its possessions. Her flight didn’t leave until 5:30 that evening. However, there was no time to dawdle. It was 12:00 noon. She had exactly an hour to gather and stow her belongings into the two twenty-kilogram suitcases and a shoulder bag she had carried from home. The past week, Maya had seen more than enough courier trucks stop by at her university for transporting her batchmates’ possessions back to their respective homes. It was a culmination of the items they had carried with them after each of their trips back, and the umpteen couriers their parents had sent them over the period of twenty-four months. As much as Maya could have done away with an advanced mail for a set of her belongings herself, the idea wasn’t entirely workable. Partly, because her parents resided in the Gulf and partly because, she was devilishly short on cash. Her wallet bore close to ₹500 at that moment. It was enough to cover her one-way ticket worth ₹200 in the city bus to the airport. Based on her calculations, a couple of hundred-rupee notes ought to have served her purpose in case of an emergency. Through the two years, it was safe to assume of Maya’s pauperdom when it came money management. It was one subject that she needed tutoring on aside from her persisting backlogs on Financial Studies in the first two semesters.

As Maya began gathering her possessions from the bed, she went into a flashback tracing the beginning of it all. She had been keen on pursuing a post-graduation; she was interested in studying further. However, it wasn’t the choicest of courses in her list of preference. Given an alternative, Maya would have chosen a post-graduation in Arts. Master of Arts. From the time she was inducted into one of the leading business schools in Bengaluru for a Master’s degree in Business Administration, her way of life began challenging her in fashions she had not even remotely anticipated. Perhaps, a chunk of those trials could be credited to having to cope up with a pressure-induced environment at twenty years of age. Maya neither boasted of any intellect nor scars from a battle to help her tangle head-to-head in arcane assignments that were meant only for grading purposes. A drill that otherwise, she noticed, most of her batchmates found commonplace. Maya found it taxing to impose an individualistic twist on secondary research to meet her assignment timelines. She also found herself tackling subjects that were not only mandatory but also failed to make any sense to her. The crux of Financial Studies, the nature of surprise tests and the timelines to keep up with pre-class preps for all subjects at once fuddled Maya. She failed them all miserably. Or, most of them anyway. A few failed attempts resulted into backlogs while a handful others converted into poor but passable grades.

So much for having evaded the life in a concrete jungle at twenty.

Maya rolled over the cables of her handphone and laptop chargers into neat rows and stuffed them into her shoulder bag that was brimming until its neck already. A hand towel, a couple of pairs of inner wears and her laptop still lay around — must-haves. She ran through her desk drawers and found a wad of new stationery that she hadn’t touched once in the two years. She then remembered about collecting her dresses from the washer and took a fleeting look at the digital clock on her mobile. She had also to make one last trip to the xerox centre in the academy block for printing a copy of her air ticket. 12:40 PM. Maya was beginning to lose it.

She stared helplessly at her suitcase and decided to skip the trip to the washer. Aside from the titchy clothes and laptop, she chose to leave all else behind. Maya had neither the time nor friends on the campus to help her. Most of them had left two days ago. Also, there was no space in her luggage to stuff anything further. From a wardrobe full of clothes for different occasions to an array of shoes, from her university uniform of a blazer and a pair of pants to the utensils her mother had incentivised her with during each of her vacation trips home, Maya’s travel bags accommodated not an inch more to stuff items within. So much so, that her panic of the zips bursting open by themselves during flight transitions wasn’t entirely baseless. Maya figured this was not the time to lose it. She collected herself and kept motoring with the means to catch that flight back home. To top it all, given her cash reserves were infinitesimal, Maya couldn’t afford to miss the airport shuttle due to leave the depot nearby at 1:25 PM. She had thirty-five minutes to catch the bus.

So much for having evaded the life in a concrete jungle at twenty. And a poor perception of time management.

Maya had chosen to pursue her Master’s degree at that age primarily because she was unable to elude a way out of her inception into concrete jungles. Her upbringing had been conditioned through a thorough lifestyle adopted by cityscapes. Modes and methods of daily living revolved around societal norms by maintaining a status quo in public circles and adhering to voluntary codes and conducts of social behaviour. Heading out with friends all days or for too much time was forbidden, as was having late night calls or chats over the phone. Being spotted with a batchmate of the opposite sex on the nearby streets discussing movies was morally incorrect because neighbours ‘talked’. Inappropriate clothing caused the society to frown upon the parents than the offsprings, as it reflected the nurturing they have bestowed upon the coming generation. Pocket money without being accounted for was never encouraged owing to the ‘you’re-too-young-to-handle-cash’ and ‘we-need-to-know-what-are-you-spending-on’ excuses. Nor was a career in an eccentric stream as event management or journalism as a result of ‘those-are-unsafe-jobs’. The cities Maya was bred in may have been larger area-wise when compared to towns, her existence in them nevertheless, caged.

Maya locked her suitcases and zipped her shoulder bag with considerable effort. She gave the room one sweeping glance, dragged her luggage out with an effort and bolted the door. The suitcases were needless to mention, weighty. She headed down the two floors dragging her luggage through the stairs, one by one. As she reached the ground floor, she realised the hostel lift had been repaired by the maintenance department that morning. Maya remained oblivious, for she was determined not to get worked up. After all, she was heading back to her comfort zone — home — a motive strong enough to retain her optimism through the day. She handed the key to the warden at the reception who on seeing the luggage, engaged Maya in a parting chit-chat. 12:56 PM. Maya left the luggage there and headed to the xerox centre. En route, she met the few straggling batchmates of hers and therein began a stream of parting banters. A strand Maya had failed to reserve any time for. By the time she hauled her suitcases outside the main gate, it was 1:12 PM. She had thirteen minutes to reach the depot and catch the shuttle.

There was no rickshaw for hire in sight. Maya dragged the suitcases one by each hand, with her shoulder bag dangling threateningly off her back, onto the main road, a walk of close to five hundred metres from her university. The fact that the road was an uphill only added to load Maya carried. Her chest shot a painful sear as she gasped for breath, having dragged her luggage in a hurry. A rickshaw headed in the opposite direction. Maya waved her hand frantically, and he slowed down.

“Electronic City bus depot?”
The driver nodded.
“Eshtu?” She asked in the little Kannada she knew.
“You tell me.”
“Fifty rupees.”
He nodded once more.
With considerable effort, Maya lifted the suitcases and placed them in the rickshaw. A feat that proved no less than difficult owing to the mismatching widths of her travel bags with the space in the three-wheeler. She jerked the two Rexine bags haphazardly in an attempt to squeeze them in and hauled the shoulder bag in one sweeping motion onto the seat before she sat. 1:21 PM.

It was two minutes past one-thirty when Maya reached the depot. Finding no bus at its designated spot, she inquired about BIAL 200 – the airport service shuttle – to a passing-by conductor.
“The bus just left.”
“How long ago?”
“Just a minute or so back, madam.”
Maya headed back to the rickshaw to check if the driver could help her catch the bus.
“My bus left the depot two minutes back. Can you help me catch it?”
“Sit.” He turned the ignition on. “Do you have the bus driver’s number?”
“Bus driver? No. Let me go back and check at the depot. As an afterthought, Maya asked, “Can you help me ask him in Kannada?”
“Sure.” The auto driver turned out the ignition and accompanied Maya to the bus depot. Her luggage was left in the vehicle, unmanned.
“Do you have the driver’s number who is riding the bus?” asked the rickshaw driver the same conductor to whom Maya had spoken less than a minute ago.
“Which bus? What service?”
“BIAL 200. The airport bus that I just checked with you.” Maya chipped in.
“What’s the problem?”
“She needs to be aboard that bus. She needs to get to the airport” said the rickshaw driver.
“The next bus leaves at 2:35 PM. She can wait at the depot.”
“I will miss my flight.” Maya butted in once more.
The conductor and the driver talked for about a minute when the former said “I can’t give you the driver’s number. But I will check who is the ticket conductor on board that bus.” He retrieved the phone and tapped a series of buttons.
“Where have you reached?”
On receiving a response from the other end, the conductor spoke. “There is a girl who has missed the bus. She is in a rickshaw. She will reach in time to catch the bus at Oxford College.”
On receiving the acknowledgement from the other end, the depot conductor spoke once more into the mouthpiece. “I am giving the girl your number. She will reach out to you.” He hung up the phone and gave Maya the bus conductor’s details. “Give him a call. You should be able to catch up to them at the Oxford College bus stop.”
Maya nodded, noted the number and thanked him. 1:47 PM. Her hands were trembling.

The rickshaw driver turned the ignition on, and off the two sped. Maya dialled the number, and the conductor greeted her in Kannada. She handed the phone to the driver and requested him to let him know of their whereabouts and that they’d be reaching the bus stop soon. The driver did as instructed and handed the phone back to Maya. As they neared Oxford College, Maya’s heartbeat was thumping. Beads of sweat were beginning to form on her forehead and upper lip. She spotted the bus at a distance realising a moment later that it had made it to the college before them. Maya dialled the conductor’s number in a hurry.
“We are right behind you. Wait for a half minute, please.” She yelled into the phone.

The driver sped up on cue, the intense whirring of the engine now running an undercurrent on Maya’s soles and calves. She retrieved her purse to pay to the rickshaw driver. There was a note of ₹10, one note of ₹50, and four ₹100 notes. She extracted the single notes of fifty and ten. Maya wanted to pay him more; however, she had neither the time asking him for change nor was in a position to dispose of a single hundred-rupee note. She was disheartened at the moment, but there was no time to brood over it. She handed ₹60 to the driver and gave him a pleading look. The driver nodded his understanding and helped Maya lug her suitcases into the waiting bus. It was 2:15 PM. So began Maya’s next quest to make it to the airport by 3:30 PM.

So much for having evaded the life in a concrete jungle at twenty. A poor perception of time management. And the lack of lessons on money jurisdiction.

She paid the conductor ₹200 to draw her ticket and sat staring out the window. Maya had more than an hour to make it to the airport, a feat that she considered achievable given the city’s non-peak traffic hours she was commuting in. As the bus exited the Electronic City Road and ascended the flyover leading to Koramangala, Maya relapsed into a flashback. She remembered the series of conversations with her father she’d had before joining MBA, as vividly as they had happened yesterday.

*******************

“What’s your plan?” The two sat in the living room, him poring over the morning newspaper while she with a teacup clutched in both her hands. It was one of those lazy Friday mornings, his weekend at work.
“I don’t understand. What plan?”
“You have finished your Graduation. What’s next?” Without waiting for a response, he asked, “Are you planning to work?”
“I haven’t thought about it.”
“When are you going to think about it?”
“I need to.”
“Your graduation is already done.” Her father persisted.
“What do you have in mind?”
“If you want to work, I can look up a training course at my workplace. Meanwhile, you find a full-time job” said Maya’s father, looking up from his newspaper.
“You mean at SSB Automobiles?”
“Yes.”
“Okay. Yeah. Maybe.”
“Since you’re interested in Finance, I can check if there is availability in that department.”
“Okay.”

Maya didn’t give either the proposition or the conversation any particular thought. Ten months later, she had finished her training and had landed a job with the organisation with a permanent working visa. It was a clear path ahead, had she been planning for a life of retirement. After all, a full-time job with a working visa and tax-free income could have been a dream come true for many. Not for her. The workplace and its hierarchical environment had begun to bog Maya down within the year. She had lost interest when her superiors wove around her a circumlocutory vocabulary of tasks and responsibilities. Unable to keep up with the web of wordsmith-like promises, Maya quit her job. She had to determine her next move.

*******************

It was five minutes past three. The afternoon traffic had begun to build up in select parts of the city through which the airport shuttle navigated in its pace. Maya was becoming giddy with anticipation again. As the bus tottered through its courses of lanes, wide and narrow, for the first time Maya wondered if she’d make it to the airport in time. When she reached the air terminal’s main gate, it was 3:49 PM. She was twenty minutes late.

*******************

“If it is Master’s it needs to be in India, dad. I don’t want to pursue my Master’s degree in the Gulf” said Maya to her father.

After careful deliberation, Maya had figured of her interest in further studies. With her brief stint in SSB Automobiles, she didn’t feel ready to be swooped into the hunger games of money and power of private corporations.

“I would love to pursue a Master’s degree from overseas, but I understand if we do not have the financial means to do so.” She continued.
“What makes you think I can’t support you?” Maya detected a hint of defence in her father’s tone.
“I am only saying. Nothing more.”
“Just because you’re grown up and have had a stint at earning doesn’t mean you think any less of your father.”
Maya stayed silent. She knew any perspectives or elaborations at that point would have only annoyed him further. He was an egoistic man, no matter however independent he wanted his two kids to become. Like all fathers, he liked to believe that he could do anything especially when it was for his children.
“I want to pursue my post-graduation in India” tried Maya after a pregnant pause.
“Sure. You need to look at the entrance test scheduled for an MBA, right?”
Maya defied a response. She wanted to tell her father that she wanted to pursue her post-graduation in Arts.
“Are there any other options?” ventured Maya tentatively.
“Like what?”
“Besides MBA or joining another corporate to work full time?”
“What do you have in mind?” asked Maya’s father peering over his reading glasses.
“I don’t like the sound of the corporate. I got bored of SSB Automobiles so fast. And I am not sure if I want to do an MBA.”
“But that would mean wasting time, Maya. Least of all, an academic year.”
“Yeah. I’m saying I would like to look at the other options in post-graduation.”
“Again. Like what?”
“I know only of MA besides MBA. I don’t want an MBA.”
“We’ll try for the premier colleges in India, love. It won’t be so bad.”

Not getting Maya to agree to his viewpoints began to exasperate him. However, he maintained his calm with her. He gave his thought-process another go in an attempt to influence her.

“You’ll be wasting an academic year. You need to take a call. And fast. Entrance examinations will approach soon and if we miss the timelines, an entire schooling year will go down the drain.”

******************

“I’m sorry we cannot issue you with a boarding pass, ma’am.” said the flight official behind the counter.
“Is there nothing you can do?” asked Maya breathlessly.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. There is nothing I can do. You are forty minutes late. Even if I issue you with a boarding pass, your baggage weighs ten kilos extra than we are allowed to permit on international flights.”
“I’m relocating. That’s why I have such heavy luggage. Is there any way you can let this pass through just this once?” Maya pleaded.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. There is no way we can let it pass through. We can alternatively send your luggage for free on cargo. It’ll reach you two days later.”
“How much would you charge if I need to take my luggage with me?”
“You will need to pay ₹2000 to let your luggage pass through.”
“Is there no concession at all?”
“No, ma’am. I’m extremely sorry. You have to pay. In another ten minutes, we’ll be closing our boarding gates. There is nothing I will be able to do beyond that.”

******************

“I would like to pursue MA.” said Maya quietly.

The last time she had subtly highlighted of her interest in MA against an MBA, her father had either missed noting the detail or had pretended to remain oblivious to it. Maya gave it a shot by being upfront with a man she was otherwise so intimidated by.

“MA?” repeated her father, as if confirming he had heard her correct.
“Yes, dad. Master of Arts.”
Haan, I know that. What will you do with a Master’s degree in Arts?”
“I don’t know how course jumps work, dad. I did a Bachelor in Business Administration. I’m not sure if it is okay to jump to a major in Arts after a Commerce background. But there are more than a couple of streams I’d be interested in venturing into after a post-graduation in Arts.”
“Like?”
“Journalism, Sociology, Psychology, History.”
“But all those jobs would involve for you having to travel or hop from one place to another, to say the least. And what are you going to do in Journalism? Report news like those correspondents do?”
“For your first question, okay. Is that a problem? And for the second, if we don’t try how is it fair to judge that’s all there is to Journalism?”
“The subjects are bizarre. You’d either land up treating patients in an asylum or finding artefacts from centuries ago that are of possibly no further value. Do these even qualify as jobs?”
“Until we don’t try how is it fair to judge any subject in Arts?” Maya put forth the same logic once more.
“Don’t berate me, Maya. Arts is not a workable option. There will be limited choices for a career.” His tone softened suddenly. “Why don’t you opt for an MBA? You will be left with many more options then. Plus, the market value of the degree is high.”
“Is there a problem pursuing a post-graduation in Arts, dad?”
“There is no problem. I don’t know how many would identify a Master’s degree in MA. I’m not sure if this degree is recognisable today. Also, I don’t know if travelling jobs would suit you fine. They are mostly unconventional for us. It’s unsuitable. There would be endless and inconsistent working hours.”
“But I like the subjects, dad.”
“If you want to get into a creative field any way you could do it in MBA too, I’m sure? Take up a job in a company that has an artistic profile attached to it. Plus, you’ve always mentioned of your interest in stocks and share markets. What about it?”
“I would love to get into the creative field. But I don’t know what Arts as an area has to offer. Plus, it seems more mainstream for my creative interest than MBA. It’s alluring. I could be judging too soon if I don’t see what Arts has to offer.”
“What about your training and experience in Finance with SSB Automobiles?” Maya’s father reiterated.
“I looked up Finance as an option too … but I don’t…”
“Then, where is the issue? Try for an MBA with Finance as your fore. Maybe, even as a major.”
There was a brief silence.
“Don’t worry. We’ll apply to the big universities. There are students’ quotas too. We’ll see if we fit into any of those.” Her father persisted.
Maya was not happy. “I also want to apply through the general quota. For a bit of self-assessment.”
“Do you mean you want to sit for the Common Admission Tests?”
“Yes.”
“But that would involve a lot of preparation, darling. Would you be able to do it?”
“There is no harm in trying, dad.”
“That means I would need to look up tickets for India around the same time as this year’s test is scheduled.”
Maya didn’t respond.
Her father continued “That’s not an issue. I’ll check with your mum’s cousin. She works with the Jete Lines, right? I’ll see if there is a concessional airfare we can apply for. Can you do a thing?”
“What’s that?”
“A few universities hold an NRI quota. We should be eligible for it. Check out, if this quota has a separate entrance test, and the dates for them. We’ll see if we can club the entrance examinations and make a combined trip to India.”
“Okay.”

Maya was still unhappy.

******************

She prayed that the number she was seeking on her handphone existed. There it was. She dialled it immediately.

“Hi, Rani didi. This is Maya this side. I need help.”
“Hey, Maya, what’s up?”
“I’m travelling back home on Jete Lines, and they are asking me to pay for my luggage.”
“How much?”
“Two thousand rupees.”
“Aren’t they letting you pass?”
“I told them I’m relocating. They didn’t buy it. I haven’t been issued with a boarding pass yet. And the gate apparently closes in five minutes.”
“Pass your phone to the airline official behind the counter.” said Rani didi.
“Sure.” Maya handed the phone to the lady behind the counter. “She is a staff of Jete Lines in Mumbai. She’d like to speak with you.”
“Hello?”
“…”
“Hi, Rani. Please tell me.”
“…”
“We cannot. She has a sizeable chunk extra. It is sure to come under the radar.”
“…”
“No, it can’t. It can create a problem considering it is a transit flight through Mumbai to the Gulf.”
“…”
“Yes, I checked. She wasn’t okay with cargo.”
“…”
“Sure. I’ll call give you a call.” The official handed the phone back to Maya.
“Yeah, didi.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of the payment on behalf of you now. Check in your luggage, and head back home safe.”
“Thank you. I’ll pay you back soon.”
“Don’t worry” Rani repeated.

Finally, Maya received her boarding pass. As she thanked the official and rushed to Immigration Check, a voice over the tannoy announced, “This is the last and final boarding call for all passengers travelling from Bengaluru to Muscat via Mumbai on Jete Lines 6Y 6333. Passengers are requested to board the flight immediately through gate number 6 …gate number 6 …”

4:45 PM.

******************

Maya scored sixty-one percentile in the yearly Common Admission Test. She appeared for a few entrance examinations reserved for NRI quota that nonetheless left her with a sentiment of indifference. On the flip side, she had begun to consider the possibilities of not making through in an admission test, thereby evading MBA at all. An option was to stealthily rate ‘Mass Media & Communication’ one in the application form for the question: Rate the courses you’d like to apply for in order of preference. Select top 3. However, she knew that father wouldn’t be pleased with the outcome. MBA was meant to be. Her nightmarish reality.

******************

The immigration queue was relatively fast-paced when compared to the parallel lines.

“Travelling to?” The officer inquired, as Maya stepped in front of his box.
“Muscat.”
“Reason for travelling?”
“My parents live there.”

He stamped an ‘Exit’ symbol onto one of her passport pages that also held the date, and let her pass through.

Maya rushed to boarding gate six, that had a last of the ambling passengers scrambling their way through the airstrip. Maya showed her boarding pass to the airline official who let her pass. She was once again stopped by the security on the strip to check the stamp on her shoulder bag before letting her pass through to the aircraft. Maya was only hauling her shoulder bag underneath the seat in front of her when she heard a lady announcing to the cabin at large.

“Boarding complete. Crew to cross-check doors and report.”

She was going home. At last. Her abode of comfort. In where she was sure of one thing. Never having to return to a university for an MBA. The beguiling segment of this entire jigsaw was the fact that her parents had no idea of their daughter’s plans. Maya had wanted it to be a surprise, the day she was to return home once and for all.

******************

“Why are you calling from this number?”
“I’m here, dad.”
“I understand that. Why are you calling from your Muscat local number?”
“I’m at the airport, dad.”
“Still. Isn’t it on international roaming? You might be losing phone credit like crazy.”
“I’m at the Muscat airport, dad.”
There was a pause. “What? When?”
“Now. The flight just landed, and I’m on my way to the airport in the shuttle.”
“What? When did you arrive?”
“Just. My return flight from Bengaluru was in the evening. I was in transit at the Mumbai airport. I’m now at Muscat.”
In the background, Maya could listen to her mother’s concerns. “What happened? Where is she? Is everything okay?”
“Yes. She is at the airport.” Maya’s father prompted to his mother, still on the mouthpiece.
Maya heard her mother a couple of inches closer to the phone. “What’s the surprise? This is so uncalled for.”
“I’m here now. I need to come home.”
“Why didn’t you inform us beforehand? Now you need to wait pointlessly.” Maya’s mother said.
“That’s fine. I’ll hold on.”
“Wait. Talk to dad.”
“Will you wait?” asked Maya’s father.
“Yes.”
“Must I come to pick you?”
“Yes.”
“Okay, wait there.”

An hour and a half later, Maya was home. It was past 1:30 AM. It had been over twelve hours since Maya had left the university. Her mother greeted her at the door with a monologue of verbal whacks.

“What is it with your surprises, Maya? I don’t understand how you guys have picked the need to shock us. Surprises are nice. Isn’t there a limit to giving surprises, though? Don’t you know where you must draw a line? Answer me. I’m asking you, Maya.”
“Yes.”
“What’s yes? Couldn’t you let us know that you were coming? You had to wait alone at the airport at this hour. What if something had happened? We were so thrown away by your news. Are these even ideas you consider for a surprise in the first place?”
“Aren’t you happy that I’m done with my MBA and back home?” Maya asked quietly.
“Yes, but is this the way you get in? Without prior information and intimation? What do we make out of your whole …”

Maya couldn’t stay tuned anymore. It had been a long day. She might have considered narrating the tale to her mother at one point in time or the other. However, on gauging her welcome-back note, she decided to carry the secret with herself. Maya dragged her luggage into her room, leaving her mother to continue her streak of whining.

So much for having evaded the life in a concrete jungle at twenty. A poor perception of time management. The lack of lessons on money jurisdiction. And prioritising her return home above all else.

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