Santhanam walked his cycle home. The minutes of the meeting didn't make much sense to him. All he understood was on May 1st Japanese best practices shall be implemented in all functions right from the peon ( that was him) to the CEO.
Pankajam came out to greet him. A friday , and no flowers ? Something was terribly wrong she thought to herself.
" What happened ? Some problem at office? " , She enquired as Santhanam chained the cycle to the tree.
It was always a comforting sight to see Pankajam at the end of a long tiring day. But today , something else tugged at his heart.
"Nothing, it looks like I might not be in employment for long."
"WHAT ?? Why ?? What happened? "
" They have sold half the company to the Japanese." and he went on to say the rest of what he had heard from office.
"But they have not said you will be laid off. and one half is still Iyengar's . You can be with them. Why do you worry?"
"Podi, you don't understand. Japanese are cost conscious and so are the Iyengars. Now both would rather walk 2 flights up to a record room , than call Santhanam .. Santa !!! Let me atleast have dinner now. I dont want to talk about this furthur. Atleast in front of Sridhar. "
They had a quiet dinner. Sridhar could not understand what was wrong. He had won the vocabulary contest and no one seemed to notice.
May saw the onslaught of the Sun in chennai, and Japanese invasion in office. Those tiny little men seemed to be too fast. Things changed visibily. The canteen was first renovated. Tables were removed, and only chairs were placed. Food was to be served on your own.
Sella, Vishwam, Dhandapani left because of no work. They joined a Marriage catering service. Santhanam kept in touch with them.
New machines were placed on the table, and old clattering typewriters were relegated to the 6th floor lunch room as display pieces.
Sugantha, the typist applied for VRS.
Santhanam walked around the diminishing crowd with fear. He was still there , but everyday was a traumatic experience. There was no one to talk to. The chitter chatter was gone. Coffee machines were abandoned. Venkatachalapathy was replaced by a long shot of the plant , and a painting of a bearded man. Thats when he got the pink slip.
Santhanam read and re read the notice again. Should he or Should he not ?
5:30pm. He stepped into the local party office for a meeting on globalisation. He understood that Indians didnt need them to teach what we wanted , He laughed at the cartoons of the firangs on the screen. He felt as enthused as his father had when Gandhi called for Quit India. He knew this was not a fight but a war.
He enrolled for the agitation . He had borne the brunt of the changes for the last 6 years and he could not take it any longer. He had a job , but no dignity. He wanted that, and he would fight it out.He went home with the leaflet and a determined soul.
Sridhar was unusually late. He was generally home by , 6:30 and the clock had just announced 8:00 pm. Pankajam was getting worried.
This boy was a mystery to her. Reading late into the night. Talking all absurd theorems. He had breezed through college and was now an engineer trainee in an Indian company."
It was 9:00 pm. The door rattled Thud Thud Thud...
"Appa, amma Open the door."
" Sridhar, why are you so late ? You could have informed us."
"Appa, you won't believe , My company is sending me for training to Japan. I have a VISA interview next monday- April the 15th !!"
" I hope I crack it, It is like never before. I am one among 10 in the company. I believe Japanese are good at engineering. There will be lots to learn there , unlike here !!! Oyasuminasai " laughed Sridhar.
Santa looked at the pink slip again.
"Come and join the Swadesi movement. Be Indian , Buy Indian."
Venue : Gandhi Statue , Marina
Time : 10:30 am
Date: April 15th , Monday.