14 Days in Exile
14 Days in Exile
The parking space of Spice4, a 7 star hotel in South Mumbai could not accommodate the continuous influx of sedans and SUVs. More than 70 elite business tycoons and investors were already seated in the conference hall. The podium, decorated with exotic flowers, had 35+ mics set by different channels and business journals to capture every word that was to be spoken in the next 15 minutes. The journalists were all ears to seize the dialogues and speculations exchanged among the Marketing Moguls before the most significant event of the year started. Cameras sizzled everywhere….
The most awaited moment finally happened when Sriram Joshi, the emperor of SJ developers, the protagonist of the entire episode, entered the lavishly decorated hall amidst standing ovation from everyone. Even before he could reach the dais, started whispers and conversations on low tones all around. Sriram smiled to himself as he had expected this reaction. Punit Joshi, his son closely followed Sriram to the podium. The photographers briskly clicked pictures of Sriram Joshi who had grown weak and lean after his quarantine phase which ended a couple of days ago.
Mr Rajkiran Mehta, Founder & CEO of another high-end developing firm, ‘Mehta’s’, muttered to his neighbour ‘I do not believe my eyes….such a hefty personality Mr Joshi looks weak after 2 weeks of privileged quarantine in the city’s best hospital?’. His neighbour, still in a slight shock, nodded unconsciously.
Sriram Joshi, occupied his seat and took the mic in his trembling hand. The crowd mellowed down to listen to words which would make the headlines of many major business newspapers the next day. “Good morning my dear comrades and well-wishers…I feel happy that I could meet all of you again in my life” started Sriram. Punit, seated in the next chair intently looked at his father to understand if he was comfortable speaking. Sriram continued “my close associates know that I love to read Ramayan as and when I find time in my busy agenda. I always have admired Shri Ram’s determination during the 14 years of his exile. My veneration for Lord Ram increased multi-fold when I found myself miserable during the 14 days of exile where I was restricted from meeting my own family. I received a bill of Rs.40 lakhs on the day of my discharge. It might not matter to you or me for the social class we belong, to settle a bill of a few lakhs. It was for the oxygen, the care given to me with clean water and the air-conditioned premier care unit. But…..” Sriram stopped to take a deep breath. The absolute silence in the hall was quite unusual.
“But..” continued Sriram, “that piece of paper struck a raw nerve as I had never shown my gratitude to the universe for having given me oxygen and water for free all these 72 years. If the air were to be withdrawn after I exhaled any day, I would have turned into ashes and Punit would have been the proud owner of SJ developers.”
The gathering was still awestruck to hear abstract and metaphysical words from someone who managed an annual turnover of USD 120 billion and was always ruthless with his channel partners and employees. A seasoned journalist Mr Garg slowly stood up and intruded “Shri Joshi ji, we understand that you are back from the tiring quarantine days, but now we have gathered to know from you the pending business decisions and the way forward as the realty sector is badly hit”.
Sriram Joshi beamed with spirit and resumed “Like Mr Garg, I know many of you would have come to know how my firm is going to take up the new COVID challenges. A straight road may lead to a destination and a U turn may lead you to another, which could be close to your heart. During my exile days, my only activity was to watch news about the intensity of the pandemic which forced many families to sell their properties to save their only breadwinners from the virus. The very thought of such appalling bills had made a few end their lives even before they actually died.”
The crowd grew a little impatient as they had come prepared to grab the immediate plans of a veteran developer who had won the hearts of many through the quality of projects across India. Sriram could absorb the anticipation of his business pals and the competitor brand owners. “From the bottom of my heart, I express my appreciation to all of you to have partnered with me on various projects. My next project is….” Sriram stopped and the gathering sat upright. Continued Sriram “is to develop one-bedroom flats for the COVID affected slum dwellers free of cost. I had installed air purifiers in many villas that I developed lacking a central thought of planting saplings to do the same without atrocious electricity bills. Humans realise the value of anything only at two junctures: before acquiring it or after losing it. The universe deserves our gratitude every moment of our survival and let us realise it before we are forced to stop inhaling a rich free resource one day. As Emoto discovered that water carries memories and imprints of our thoughts, any resource of nature will understand the real intentions of humans. I hope to have at least one from this huge gathering to be with me in my new journey….the journey starting with a U-turn. Mr Garg, I can comprehend your next query….about the empire I built over years. Punit will take over and operate with his stake in SJ developers, till the day he realises what I could during my exile, because the most beautiful things cannot be seen or touched, but felt”