“The more I rise, the more I fall” ( Joto uthbo, toto nambo)

The other day, I was watching one of the popular films by Satyajit Ray. The uncomfortable honesty of its discourse struck me. One particular conversation between two characters in the film rekindled some of the dark ruminations that were long put to rest.

The scene- (Two friends- Sanjoy and Asim — are sitting in the balcony of a forest rest house. The sound of a musical instrument is heard from a distant house.)

Asim- There is such a sweet music in this sound.

Sanjoy- Really! Such places seem to increase our longevity.

Asim- Hmm…Perhaps we should first introspect whether there is a need to increase longevity.

Sanjoy- Why? You are on the ascending curve. The longer you live, the more you rise.

Asim- The more I rise, the more I fall.

As a student, learning to say ‘Yes’ was a measure of one’s true potential. The affirmative was synonymous to a sense of possibility and endurance. As I stepped into the corporate theme, work seemed less challenging than the continuous struggle between optimism and popular opinion. I did not realize when one’s humility and tolerance began to be perceived as gullibility. Soon I also mastered the art of saying ‘No’. By an unannounced natural process, the corporate chaos often molds you into a person you have dreaded all your life until then.

In the initial days at work post MBA, the impassive recognition of my existence in the team deeply bothered me. I failed to understand the passive resistance from the peers and their human pleasure in taking the upper hand on someone who is yet to learn the game. As I have often said in the interviews, I was quick to learn the art. I became one with the chaos.

One day at the lunch table, we were having a casual conversation when a colleague voiced a very thoughtfully framed opinion, “Bangali ladkiyan bahot tez hoti hain” (Bengali girls are very shrewd). My immediate response was, “Could you please consult the dictionary meaning of tez? I believe you have confused intellect with shrewdness”. The irony of the matter is that I felt worse after defending myself. Why did a comment so trivial in its existence ignite a sense of defense in me? Did I respond to actually defend anyone or to satisfy my ego? Is the strength of one’s character in having the last word or to know what is worth fighting for? Fortunately, I have a vigilant frontier of friends and family which called the shots before it was too late.

As one learns the intricacies of the profession, one is bound to succumb and ‘fit-in’ to the dynamics of the system. Perhaps this transition is inevitable. But one must know the price one pays for the quick gains. There is a very thin unguarded line separating the liberated from the chaos.

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