The Last Interview
[The following article is a work of fiction made from the fragments of author’s weird and demented imagination. It does not bear any resemblance to reality. If so, it’s purely accidental. Thank you!]
I was sitting in the waiting room. There were four individuals besides me, waiting for their turn. I glanced over to see their faces. It reeked of nervousness, I could tell that easily. Adjusting their neck ties and regularly wiping off their faces with the handkerchief. I very well remember being in that position. A few months back, I guess. I had lost count after 47. The lady behind the counter called my name. This is it. I stood up and went inside.
A man greeted me with a smug smile on his face. A smile that could even put Mona Lisa in a fix. I went ahead and greeted him.
“Good morning, Sir!”
“Oh good morning Mr. Harry! Please take a seat!”
I pulled the chair and sat on it. All that expensive cushioning and still it didn’t feel comfortable. I made sure my posture was decent, straightening my slouchy back. As they say, first impression is the last impression.
On the other side of the table, there were many empty chairs. I guess, some folks hadn’t arrived yet.
“So, how are you, Harry?”, the man asked curtly. The formality of that question made me nauseous.
“I’m fine, Sir!”, I replied.
I looked into his dark eyes, trying to gauge his mood. Nothing.
“So, can I have a look at your résumé?”, the man entreated in a formidable manner.
“Yes sir, I have it with me. Here.”, saying so I handed a piece of paper to him. A sheet on which my entire existence was documented, in the form of some numbers and alphabets.
He took it eagerly and then started to analyze it. Just then, the door stood open and I saw few people entering inside. “That explains the empty chairs.”, I thought to myself.
But I was astounded when I saw the faces of the people who had just entered. It was my parents along with some distant relatives whose names I just couldn’t recall. That lady who lived in our neighborhood and was friends with Mom, was also there. “What were they doing here?”, I thought to myself.
They paced in hurriedly and took their seats on the other side of the table. I was too astonished at the vagueness of the situation, I just couldn’t react.
They all sat down in their respective chairs and didn’t utter a single word. I tried to smile at them but they averted my eyes.
“So, you don’t have an outstanding academic background it seems here, looking at your résumé. Well, you had a great score in your 10th grade examinations. But that doesn’t reflect in your 12th grade scores. A meager 56%? May I ask why?”, the man finished and broke the eerie silence of the room.
I thought for a moment and replied, “Well sire, I didn’t study much during my 12th grade. I was distracted and I guess I had to pay the price.”
The man didn’t look amused at all from my reply. They all started murmuring and discussing something among themselves, I couldn’t hear a word though.
Just then one of the distant relatives spoke, “Are you ashamed of such a low score?”, he asked me scornfully.
I was confounded at that question. I thought about it for a while and then earnestly replied.
“No. I’m not ashamed. I’m regretful for not studying. But ashamed? I don’t think so. I learned a lot from that mistake I made”
The man who asked the question smiled mockingly and then started talking in whispers with the interviewer, who was in charge of this whole thing.
Suddenly, their mindless chatter was broken by the neighborhood lady.
“Okay. Moving on, you also have many backlogs in your graduate course? I get that you didn’t study during your 12th grade due to some distractions, but it seems you didn’t learn from your mistakes at all. How can you explain this now?”, she ended her question with a triumphant laugh.
I sat there speechless. I had no idea what the heck was going on. To be frank, I wasn’t prepared for this. I somehow gathered my thoughts and replied
“You see Maa’m that I hadn’t studied during my 12th grade due to some distractions. But I still had those distractions, in my graduate course. I was fighting them, of course. Trying to get rid of them, but it’s an unending struggle. When your distractions turn into your desires, it’s very difficult to get rid of them. I suppose my behavioral facetiousness also played a part in this.”, I replied disdainfully.
They again started mumbling among themselves. I was starting to get a headache now. Just then my Dad spoke,
“We’ve always supported you son, no matter what. But you don’t seem to respect our love and care. You always took things lightly and never paid any heed to what I said. I always asked you to take your life seriously. But now look at you. You can’t even get a job. If only had you listened to me. You still have a chance son. But you need to listen now..”, he ended his speech remorsefully.
I was absolutely perturbed and dejected by it. I morosely looked at my mother, who was about to break in tears now.
She looked into my eyes and started speaking. “I always thought you’d grow up to be a very successful person and settle down happily in your life. You’d have a house of your own and you’d make me proud someday. But it doesn’t look like that anymore. You’ve failed son. Because of your own actions. I always warned you about your whimsical dreams and passions, but you never listened. That’s your problem. You never listen to us. Mrs Paul was right, you keep committing mistakes again and again. They’ve got you son. You no longer belong here. You’ve lost your way…”, saying so, she started weeping. My father started comforting her.
The words pierced my heart like bullets. There was a wretched pain in my guts now. I didn’t understand what exactly was going on. I felt I was about to vomit and my splitting headache was at its peak now.
Just then the man in charge spoke to me.
“You don’t understand the grave consequences of your flippant attitude, do you? Look boy, it’s cut-throat competition out there. You understand the word cut-throat?, he asked. I nodded ruefully.
“Okay. Now listen to me. If you want to survive here, you need to run. Run as fast as you can, cause boy you’re lagging behind. Behind is a subtle word, you’re almost out of the race lad! You’ve disappeared. Stop with your fancy whims and desires. You won’t get anything out of it. Just start running for fuck’s sake! You’re breaking away from the pack. And soon, you’d be lost into nothingness! Screaming for help, but no one will give a damn about you. Since, you don’t belong to the pack!”, he screamed.
I couldn’t take it anymore now. I sat there motionless. Their words hung in air, slowly slaughtering me from within.
They were discussing among themselves now. I noticed that my parents had left while the guy was still speaking to me. No wonder, I had disappointed them once again. I was now left alone with a bunch of strangers who almost loathed my existence to their core. Just looking at their judgmental faces slyly laughing at me, depressed the hell out of me and made my blood curdle. I wanted to get out of the room and get some fresh air.
Then the man announced,
“Look, we had a thorough discussion about it and we’ve decided that we won’t offer you this job. You don’t seem capable enough. You have defiant tendencies and your nonchalant behavior is a major problem. Also, your academic scores show you lack merit. You have nothing to offer to our company and it will be a burden to hire you. So, we’re sorry. You may leave now.” saying so, he smiled derisively and started chattering with his folks again.
My head was now about to explode itself. I felt I wanted to puke badly now. I was all drained up. I felt nothing now. I got up, smiled at the man in a brazen manner and left the room. The lady behind the counter gave me a pitiful look. I looked at her, the way a warrior looks at his general, after they’ve lost an important battle. And then I made my way out of the building.
Outside the sun was obscured by clouds, giving the weather a pale and gloomy feel. Suddenly my stomach belched and I puked while grabbing my throbbing headache. I was severely exhausted now. I looked around, people were eyeing me with curiosity but no one gave a damn. They conspicuously stopped for a moment and went on with their lives. Everyone was busy running. No one had the privilege of leisure. I stood up now. Gathered myself and then decided to run. But then, the unusual thought stuck me. I didn’t know the direction in which I had to run. How can I run when I don’t even know where I’m supposed to go? I looked around once again, everyone was still running haphazardly. I asked an old man who was jogging at snail’s pace.
“Where are you going, Uncle?”
He gazed at me rather compassionately and said “I don’t know son. I have been running like this since past 70 years. I still don’t have a clue!”, he smiled and started jogging again.
I stood looking at him. He suddenly collapsed to the ground after jogging a few miles. A crowd gathered around him for a moment, sympathetically looking at him and then within few minutes, the whole crowd dispersed again. The old man was nowhere to be seen. He had disappeared. No memory of him. Like he never existed in the first place. Everything around me now seemed nebulous.
I remembered the words of the man who had urged me to run. I looked at my wristwatch but it had already stopped working. And then suddenly, I started running. My body ached like hell and tears started streaming down my face, but still I ran. I kept running. My whole life passed me by like I was traveling in some kind of wormhole. But I didn’t stop. I ran till my legs went numb.
Just then I spotted a bright light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t feel my legs now. I had grown old and weariness had taken over my body. There was a mirror beside the source of light. I looked in it for my reflection but it wasn’t there. I somehow struggled to reach the light. And then, I finally made it. I stopped and jumped right into the bright white light with surprising avidity and my whole existence evaporated in thin air. I saw the fading faces of all those random people, looking sympathetically at me. The interviewer, the distant relatives whose names I still couldn’t recall, that old neighborhood lady, Mrs Paul I guess, the old man whom I had met on the road. My parents and friends were weeping miserably. I felt sad about it. I smiled at them and then their contorted faces disappeared. I was now free to pursue all my desires, passions, dreams and ambitions. I was embraced by immortality. No one would judge me now. I was out of the race and I was eternally happy, at last!
(Pic Credits: azquotes.com)
Originally published at www.skepticalthoughts.net.