“Have you no shame?” Raghuvir Bose spoke in a composed but firm tone.
The murmuring of the boys stopped and the room turned silent.
“Day after day, week after week, how can you afford to be in zero revenue, this is not at all acceptable, enough is enough now”. Raghuvir Bose yelled this time. The boys looked down and kept gazing at Kailash now and then.
Raghuvir Bose kept his glasses on the table, placed his hand on his bald head and stroked it. His neck started to jerk involuntary, this is one action which happened when the stress level went up. Looks like the concept of the movie ‘Hichki’ was inspired by the uncontrolled, unthinking and reflex jerking of his neck.
‘Kailash, how can you be in zero, what is the secret of such a brilliant consistency in performance?” Bose’s anger and disappointment now turned to sarcasm.
The morning hurdle meeting was now coming to an end and it was time for the boys to leave for the field. The day’s commitments were given and the young ones were filled with all possible doses of inspiration, fear being the supreme.
Raghuvir Bose was a seasoned banker with an experience of over two decades in leading various sales teams. His philosophy was “Fear is the best motivation”. He had earned several accolades and broken and created several records. He was indeed a champion but his success depended on all his team members’ performance. But, despite all efforts, one of his team members was not coming up to the curve. He had joined the bank few months back and was not clicking, he was simply not shaping-up. Kailash was posing a hurdle in his mission “Best or Nothing”. He had no other option but to drive Kailash with an iron fist -Perform or Perish.
“Listen, you, Kailash..wait” Bose summoned with the snapping of his fingers. The rest of the boys left leaving Kailash alone with the monster.
“You will text me every hour about the progress of the day, is it understood and clear” Bose stated matter-of-factly while he fiddled with the laptop keys. “And you will not go home tonight without business, come and meet me at 8”.
“Yes Sir!” asserted Kailash meekly and stood for more tirade, in case Bose has not finished his quota yet.
“Where the hell is my glasses?” Bose vented irritatingly while looking for his eyeglasses in the heap of papers, notebooks, laptop bag and even his tiffin bag, but it was not to be found.
“Sir, your glasses are there..” Kailash pointed up.
“Where?” Bose turned his head towards the writing board, the walls and the ceiling. While doing so his neck jerked several times.
“Sir, there, on your head” Kailash now pointed his finger aiming his shining bald.
“Oh..I see, thank you, but what are doing here now, go..go, you should look for business opportunities in the market instead of staring at my bald” Bose stated while immersing himself in the sea of data on the screen of his laptop.
Kailash left the room with a feeling of injury, humiliation and agony of defeat. But, surprisingly he didn’t have any hatred for Bose but enough bitterness for his own failures.
“Aha…here comes our hero, thanks dear for saving us all these days from the wrath of Bose” exclaimed Subhash as Kailash joined the group in the nearby tea stall. Others laughed and one of them even patted Kailash as if he has brought real laurels.
“Bose has completely forgotten us, he has even started to overlook our shortfalls in the commitments, all his love is exclusively reserved for you only” More laughter and jokes. Kailash laughed too but burned inside. He presented a bold face but something within him had started to break. Every word felt like knifing him to death.
It was customary for the sales guys to assemble in the roadside tea shop after the morning hurdle meeting and before heading for the market.
Kailash sipped his tea silently while the rest of his colleagues cracked jokes, mimicked their bosses and customers. In short, enjoyed life.
In few minutes time every one left one by one and Kailash took out his phone and started calling customers for a meeting.
“Not today Kailash, call me some other day”
“Who?..who Kailash?, please call me later, I’m busy”
“Oh..Yeah..I remember you, please call me once next month”
Call disconnected. SMS received. “I’m busy, call me later”
“I told you to text me, please don’t make calls, it distracts me, I’m into a creative job, don’t you understand”
After several attempts when he didn’t get any appointment, he walked towards a customer’s office with a hope of catching him there.
Text message received.
He took out the phone hurriedly and saw the message “One hour gone, what’s the update….Bose”
“Go to HELL…” He typed hurriedly. Then waited for a while. Erased the message and wrote “No success yet, trying…Regards” and pressed the ‘Sent’ button.
No response received.
He reached the office where a security guard with handlebar moustache asked “Do you any appointment with Sir”
“No, but please tell Mr. Banerjee that Kailash from the bank has come”
The guard entered his tiny booth and came back few moments later and announced “Saar is in a meeting, has told to come with an appointment”
The guard stood there staring suspiciously at him as if the office was under an unprecedented attack and he had to protect it by all means, it was like saving the country from some enemy country’s attack. The handlebar moustache guard heaved a sigh of relief only after Kailash stepped out of the office threshold.
Few people have bad days once in a while but it looks like Kailash had only bad days. He encountered rejections daily and even if had the fortune of meeting a customer, they didn’t buy any product from him. Today being the worst, none agreed to even meet him. More hours went by and he promptly copied the first message and kept sending to Bose. He waited with baited breath for the deadliest message from Bose “Call”. Though it didn’t arrive yet.
Rather, to his much surprise he received a message from an unknown number “Please call, want to discuss something about investments”.
Kailash scanned the number in his diary and even checked in ‘Truecaller’ but couldn’t make out how the message arrived. To his even bigger surprise the customer agreed to meet him the same day and sounded in the need of some urgent investment. Without wasting even a minute Kailash left for the meeting with lot of hope in his eyes. The journey was a long one, Metro, then sub-urban train, then auto rickshaw and then a 15 minutes of brisk walk. While he covered the distance, the weather also changed from sunshine to cloudy to rains to again sunshine. And, amidst all these one thing more happened. His mobile phone ran out of battery. So, no hourly update and no fear of the message “Call”.
He was soaked when he arrived at the doorstep of the customer.
Every dog has its day. Kailash had made the biggest revenue. The customer was an NRI and was in a hurry to complete his investments.
“Now I will show Bose that I cannot be written off so easily” he thought with a feeling of hate and revenge.
Kailash celebrated his victory by buying himself an expensive cigarette along with tea. It had started to turn dark when he started for office.
Kailash had joined the bank a couple of months back. Coming from a small district town, his humble parents were overjoyed on learning that their son had made it to a bank. Bank job meant working as a teller and then with time moving into a cabin. Life- long job security and plenty of respect in the society.
It was only after few days that the reality shock set in for Kailash. He had never paid attention to all the sales guys moving around the city and had never ever thought that someday he would join this army of people who wear smart clothes but never really looked happy. Always lost in thoughts and uncertainty written on their faces. In one moment a sales guy becomes an icon of success, envy for many and then the same guy becomes the punching bag, an object of humiliation. An unending cycle of tear and joy. Either ‘an apple of the eye’ or ‘offend the eyes’.
Kailash could see Bose and the team in the brightly lit meeting room from the glass wall. He walked in confidently. He had rehearsed that when Bose shouts at him he would silently take out the form and place in front of him and look at his face unblinkingly. He will learn a good lesson today!
The moment Kailash entered the room, Bose stood up and adjusted his trouser by pulling the hip circumference, and he did this quite often. The rest of the team members smiled while Bose hugged Kailash and said “Many congratulations my boy, I knew you are a fighter and you will win”.
Kailash was taken aback by this gesture. More surprises awaited him. A huge cake was brought in and a plastic knife handed over to him while everyone cheered and sang. Everyone hugged and patted him while he kept wondering, his eyes brimming “How did they know about all these?”
Kailash however understood one things today. The mystery behind the love for Bose despite all his ruthlessness.