Poetry Of A Common Indian Female
I waited quietly in a Café Coffee Day branch. She was on the way and I had secretly started envisioning her story, although I knew very little of it. Little was I aware that within the span of one hour I would hear yet another heartwarming life saga that would change the way I see the world.
Komal came soon, and with a bright smile wished me a good afternoon. Her eyes sparkled and shone brightly, at the same time, they spoke a story- the story of Komal’s life, which contained all the seasons of her lifetime. Some dark, some turbulent, some filled with hope and enthusiasm, and some extremely bright.
“Would you have tea or a coffee?” I asked.
“Nothing! Actually, I am not well.” Komal said, her face shining like a bright star, “I have fever and cold, docs have advised, don’t eat or drink anything outside.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, not really believing that she was not well, by looking at her bright face.
“Ya ya, go ahead, order whatever you want to.” She said.
“Shall we begin?” I asked, after ordering a coffee for myself, feeling bad for her, since she could not have anything.
“Go ahead.”Komal said with a warm smile.
Over the next one hour, Komal poured her heart out… and what a journey it has been! I got so engrossed, that the costly coffee that I had ordered went unnoticed.
From a junior employee earning Rs.8000 per month to becoming a manager of a multinational bank, Twenty eight year old Komal has come a long way.
Fasten your seat belts people; this is one hell of a journey!
Komal Narayan Peswani, a girl born to excel in whatever she did.
Komal was born in Ghatkopar, a suburb of Mumbai just three minutes after her elder twin brother Kunal.
“I was half the size of my brother when we were born, compared to him who was a completely healthy child.”
Komal was born in a joint family, in fact a very big joint family of twenty-two people living in a small room at the ground floor of an old building.
“My grandfather, his family, his brothers, their family, all my chachas (uncles) and my buas (aunts), we all lived together in a tiny room.”
Komal being the only girl child around was loved by everyone in the family.
“My father had his own business, he used to take electric contracts and my mother was a teacher in the secondary section of a Gujarati medium school.”
Although Komal’s father did not have a huge income from his business, he still took good care of his family.
“My parents never compromised on our education whether they had the money or not, and for that I will be eternally grateful to them.”
Komal’s childhood was average just like any other child, but for the fact that she was very fragile.
Komal quotes a very serious incident that now comes across as funny. “Doctors had given up all hopes of my survival, so on the sixth day of birth when the child naming ceremony has to be carried out, my family actually thought that I would not live, and they went ahead and named my elder brother Kunal and left me- Nameless!”
What a mistake by the family – not naming a girl who would make them proud one day- small little games of fate.
“So after they did not name me then, believing I would not survive, here I am in front of you.” (She dons an effervescent smile.)
“I was way too much under-weight when I was born. Things didn’t improve as I grew up.”
Things were okay, not too great at home. And the place that Komal was living in was too small to hold the entire family together.
“It was too cumbersome at times to share the space with so many people and at times it caused accidents as well.”
Speaking of accidents, Komal is reminded of one dreadful incident which perhaps could have destroyed Komal completely and her wonderful life journey would have stopped then and there!
Let’s hear it in the lady’s own words. She is a little hesitant initially to revisit the memory but, words come out almost magically as she regains her composure,
“I was four I think, and one day my dadi had kept a vessel full of water for heating on the gas stove, I being a complete maniac child kept running around the house, and then it happened! My dadi was entering the bathroom holding the vessel full of HOT water. I came running in from the corner- dadi completely unaware- and collided with her- dadi spilled the vessel full of hot water on my entire body.”
Komal was badly burnt! Her entire skin, hair, eyebrows- BURNED and MELTED!
“It did not immediately sink in. As soon as my mom realized what had happened, she picked me up and straight away put me in a drum filled with water that we had kept right outside the house.”
Everybody was dumbstruck! Nobody could believe what had happened.
“In the middle of this chaos, my brother informed everybody that my father was standing at the bus stop, situated just opposite our house. I jumped out of the drum and out of every body’s grasp, ran towards the bus stop and hugged him.”
The little Komal was much attached to her father and hoped that her father could do something to free her from the pain she was feeling at that moment and may be, would never allow her to feel any pain again.
She really believed that her dad could do anything!
“I was instantly taken to a doctor, upon examining my state he declared that there was no hope that I would survive.”
Remember, she was just Four then!
“After I was slightly better, doctors advised plastic surgery, and all the people in my family kept looking at each other. Plastic surgery?? What?? Can you please repeat again? Plastic what?”
That meant a huge amount of money. From where were they to bring so much?! People in Komal’s family were really unsure about the fate of their princess-like daughter.
Doctors had this love and hate relationship with Komal, they always declared that she would not survive, and Komal, as if on a mission to prove them wrong kept surviving!
Komal encountered one maniac doctor again, “Reconsidering plastic surgery, he advised my family to take me home and apply some cream, since according to him I was near death, almost at the door step of it, just waiting for death to engulf me.”
“I survived! (She grins) despite the maniac doctor so optimistic about my non-survival; but I was very severely burned. My hair and skin had melted, I had no eyebrows and my skin had turned completely black!”
Komal’s skin that was once whiter than pearl had turned darker than a piece of coal. The family brought their princess Komal back home. The critical question still remained- what to do for Komal’s burnt skin? The family’s resources were exhausted and they were too numb to think of anything.
“One of my uncles who happened to visit us during that time was furious at my family for not shifting me to a better hospital. He then instantly took the initiative and shifted me to the best hospital available and after shifting he assured my family that they should not worry about money!”
Komal was in the hospital for around two months, badly burnt and unrecognizable. The only good thing that happened around all this chaos was that the doctors (Read, A bunch of good doctors) advised that since Komal was so tender and young she would not require any plastic surgery because her skin would regenerate on its own. It was then- during that period of hospitalization that Komal started putting up a serious show of courage.
“It was really painful when they plucked the remains of the burnt skin but I did not cry. My dad promised that if I stay strong like this then he would buy me toys from the shop, visible directly outside my hospital room’s window.”
Two months and Komal was getting better and better, with her dad and dadi constantly by her side.
“And I must say that by the end of my two month stint at hospital, I had too many toys to play with, but the irony is that I never did. (She smiles).”
Komal recovered from this dreadful incident and began growing rapidly. Years passed and each passing year Komal became more and more aware about the importance of money.
“See, although both my dad and mom were earning, it was not enough to lead a very luxurious life, we had to stay in budget always.”
There comes a time in life when because of one decision, one’s life entirely changes, either for good or bad. In Komal’s case in turned out to be for her good!
“I took admission in BMS (Bachelor in Management Studies) after my 12th standard, which was then a fairly new course. And I was the only girl as opposed to 38 boys. I cried for two days at a stretch, but luckily I was joined by a few more girls. Then I stopped crying.”
Three straight years, six semesters, Komal completed her graduation with flying colors!
“You would expect me to relax and enjoy for a while but I finished my graduation on Saturday and on Monday I was on the job, which I landed during campus placements.”
Komal started working with Syntel- an IT Company at a meager salary of Rs.8000, back in 2006. Being full of commitment and enthusiasm towards her work, after twenty two months, Komal only reached a mere salary of Rs.12000. Way too less, compared to the magnitude of her caliber!
“Sometimes I would leave the office completely exhausted and analyze the amount of work that I had put into the day and also the money that I was getting in compensation, there was clearly an imbalance! One more thing, right adjacent to my office building there was a company, tall, attractive, a dream of every employee. I would look at it and wish silently in my heart.”
What did she wish for? Well, read on!
“After putting in close to two years of my life in sweat and hard work, I was not being paid enough. So I decided to shift to a new workplace.”
“I decided to give interviews just for the fun of it, little did I know, that out of the six interviews that I gave, I would be hired by everyone.” (She sports a beautiful grin!)
Komal was going mad trying to choose. God must have been in a good mood, Komal thought. Well, out of six offer-letters she had, Komal was in a dilemma of which to choose and which to let go.
“At last (She sighs) I chose Lehman-Brothers, an investment banking company.”
One of the giants in the industry at that time, it was a dream selection for Komal. But Komal had a different reason for choosing it. Salary? Wait the surprise is yet to come…
“It was as if my dream had come true. It was right adjacent to my old office building, tall, attractive, my dream of two years.”
So one thing is clear, this secret or magic or whatever, did hold true in Komal’s case. She literally attracted the job to her. (Well, not just attraction, she gave a two hour grueling interview also.)
Komal is a little instinctive and can sometimes do what a normal person would not.
“I went crazy, jumped all around the house (Maintaining a safe distance from her dadi though), and erupted in joy, nothing in the world could make me feel better than this job offer-letter.”
Ecstatic Komal phoned Lehman-Brothers for the joining dates, and the reply that came deeply saddened her.
“They were putting me in a completely alien process and odd timings, I don’t know how but I said no to them. Only later I realized what I had done.”
What!!!??? (Multiple exclamation marks due to the magnitude of shock, nothing else!!) Declining a Lehman-Brother job, just because of an unknown process! Komal has to be kidding us right? No but that’s Komal for you, she did decline the job and went for some other companies, where without a doubt she got selected.
“Those few days were a roller coaster ride for me, one day when I had almost decided to join a different company, I got a call from Lehman-Brothers once again, and I was like – now what?”
Impressed by Komal’s way of working on her own terms, Lehman offered her a process in which she was comfortable.
“I instantly said yes, went to their office to collect my offer letter and upon receiving it I nearly fainted.”
“There is something wrong with the offer letter.” Komal thought.
Komal was taken on board in a process where only a selected few were taken and she was being offered a staggering 162% hike from her previous job. That meant that Komal was roughly offered a salary of Rs.30000, which was completely unheard of in those days.
“That’s why I nearly fainted.” She smiles flawlessly once again and I think she blushed also, “I didn’t think I would be paid so much, means I was really not expecting it. I pinched myself really hard.”
Only later Komal realized that it did hurt.
“My dad had worked really hard until that point and he was really happy after I got the job. I wanted him to relax a bit. All the happiness which he had sacrificed for us, I wanted to repay that in my own small little way. I had big plans for my dad, wanted to look after him in a much better way.”
As they say- Every Winner Has Scars!
Komal’s uncle met with a road accident, and the whole family was in shock.
“May 2008, my mom was in Pune since a month to take care of my uncle- the same uncle who took me to the hospital, and I along with my brother were out at a cousin’s place, since it was her birthday on 30thMay, we were there since 28th may.”
There is a strange stillness on Komal’s face as she speaks of this, as if she has just managed to come to terms with whatever she is about to say.
“31st may 2008, just one month after I joined Lehman, my dad passed away.”
It was a massive Heart-attack.
“That morning, he got up, did all things on his own like making tea, ironing clothes and left for work, and he didn’t even wake up my aunt and dadi who were at home. 10:45 AM we got the call that unki tabiyat thik nahi hai! (His health is not good) He used to work in the electrical field, so we thought that shayad shock laga hoga!” (It could have been a electric shock!)
Komal’s father couldn’t fight death for long.
Komal couldn’t believe it, right from childhood she believed that her father could do anything, because he was her super-hero. But without anybody from the family seeing him for the last time Komal’s super-hero went away from all of them forever! This broke Komal. Completely!
“God could not do this to me, I had just received one salary from Lehman and on the verge of second salary, I had made a list of things to buy for my father, but he didn’t wait for my wish to get fulfilled.”
“It was Saturday when it happened. I was at home for three days and I was back to work again.”
Heart made of steel! (Komal blushes upon hearing the word steel.)
The stillness still lingered over Komal’s face. It was quite evident that underneath there was chaos.
“Even my brother who had GDPI for his MBA admission was travelling to college to complete the procedure, he was called back midway and his admission went for a toss. He had left his job to do MBA and taking his admission after this mishap was a daunting task.”
“All the responsibility was on my shoulders then, I was the only one who was earning at that time, my mother who also used to work , had given up her job because I had told her to do so.”
What began as a dream for Komal, quickly changed and Komal stood motionless against life’s lethal bouncer. She didn’t duck but she couldn’t play it either.
“So my brother went away for his MBA, we were only ladies left at home now, my mom-who was heartbroken, my dadi- who had become pensive and my aunt and finally me.”
“Those two years that my brother was away, I would say bahot difficult time tha hamare liye. Roz subah gharse at around 6’o clock, jab main nikalti thi, tab ek dar sa lagta tha, ki main wapas aa paungi ki nahi. Kyuki dad ke saath bhi aisa hi hua tha.” (Those were very difficult times for our family, every morning when I used leave for office, I used to get scared, that whether I would come back or not, because it happened with dad that he never came back.)
At such a young age, Komal was faced with the brutal nature of life.
“I would work like a maniac, not aware of time or surroundings. Perhaps that was the only way I could get over the grief that was around me.Time milega toh aur kuch sochungi naa!” (If I got time, then I would think naa? I was so busy.)
Komal! Facing life with a head-on attitude…you deserve respect woman!
Midway through the interview, Komal’s phone came to life and it was her mom on the other end.
“What did she say?” I asked after she disconnected the call.
“She called for some medicines, but basically she just wanted to know what the hell I was doing outside the house in this searing heat.”
I smiled and she smiled too – all moms are same- always concerned about their children.
Let’s get ahead with the story (sorry, poetry) now.
Life moved on and six months after joining Lehman-Brothers, Komal was due to become a permanent employee in the company.
But as if, it is God’s tradition to play little games with Komal, He once again stumped her.
“That day I waited for my confirmation at Lehman. I was excited that I would be turning into a permanent employee. I did not do any jumping around but was eager for the letter.”
Now you want to know, what happened?? Right?
“Lehman-Brothers got bankrupt and filed for bankruptcy, the year was 2008.”
What a pity!
“Can you imagine?? On the day of my conformation they filed for bankruptcy.”
“Did they go bankrupt because they were paying you too much?” I asked.
Dumbstruck by the question, Komal quickly got the joke, smiled and continued,
“Luckily there were no lay-offs but the bonus and all other perks were denied to everybody.” Said Komal, “There was no work after the bankruptcy, and all the people used to sit around doing nothing; but I utilized that time to get into the skin of the company’s systems and become a pro at it.”
Nine months without any work, but still being paid! Komal didn’t like the idea and after a lot of research, she developed a tool with the help of the IT ream, which eventually helped many people who worked at the company.
“It was a technical tool and people still call it my baby.”
Nomura took over the US giant Lehman-Brothers and Komal who was then a junior analyst, was assigned as a senior analyst, and after a short time she was named the assistant manager of her team.
“In the five years and eight months that I was at Nomura, I got three promotions and my career graph always pointed towards north.”
There must have been a reason behind Komal’s super success. I asked her that.
“Honestly, I had seen people who are so authoritative that it creates discomfort. But I had a different idea, I believed in taking initiatives to nurture people’s talents. I think that’s what people liked in me.”
Being very modest! But I think Komal’s success can be credited to her superb people management, sympathetic attitude, brilliant understanding of human emotions and most importantly, her hard work.
“After spending close to six years at Nomura, I thought that if I stay there for some more time I would never be able to leave that place. On top of that I wanted to change my profile also. And you tell me who doesn’t want more money?”
Once again just for the fun of it Komal prepared her CV, which she had not done in ages, and sent it to CITI GROUP.
Do you really need to ask what happened?
“They selected me at a much higher package and placed me in Pune.”
“I did not want to go away from my mom and dadi, aunty and my brother.”
And the solution?
“They told me that they might shift me back to Mumbai in some time, I thought over it (Just a matter of time) and agreed.” (She says this with a warm smile which is enough to flatter anyone.)
Komal is currently based in Pune with her aunt, working as a manager for CITI GROUP.
“Life is good; daily I am learning the tricks of the new trade and coping up with it. Sometimes I think about where I started and all I can see is a beautiful curve.”
Komal’s life has been truly unpredictable! The circumstances she came from makes her life story look like a fairy tale journey. “What fairy-tale? You work in the investment-banking sector; you would realize its reality.”
I only blushed in response to this.
Everything seems to have settled down for Komal. She is doing well, her brother is also doing exceedingly well and her mom, is now a little less worried compared to what she was initially. But you know naa??? God! He can be very mean! He bowled one more lethal bouncer at Komal.
“My dadi was 89, and a month ago she passed away. I was very close to her.”
I could see, if I am not mistaken, a tinge of wetness around Komal’s eyes. But I am just assuming.
“I pray to god that now at least, He doesn’t give me any more jhatkaas!” (Shocks!)
“Surely, he won’t Komal.”
Komal nodded her head in approval very gently, secretly hoping that what I said does hold true.
Before concluding the interview, a thought struck me and I looked at Komal, struggling to find words. Komal looked at me like she understood that I wanted to ask her something.
“What? Have you forgotten anything to ask? You can disturb be anytime if you want to ask anything.”
“One last question Komal.”
Too unsure to ask I gathered all my thoughts …
“When you were burnt, in that state you ran towards your father and hugged him as you heard about him, what made you do that?”
Komal looked at me for a fraction of a second which almost felt like an eternity, and finally spoke…
“I felt the safest in his arms and for those few seconds when I hugged him, I did not feel any pain.” As she said this, Komal’s eyes spoke more than her words could have ever have done.
If you want to buy this book please visit this link: http://bit.ly/PoetryOfACommonIndianFemale
About the Author: Virendra Desai, is an Advanced Business Strategy Advisor & Subliminal Communication expert. You can write to the author at [email protected]