“Do you know what I did for a living?”
Papa asked in his somewhat annoyingly pompous way, his eyebrows arched as he peered at me over the rim of his glasses.
“Of course I do Dad ! I mean, what do you mean whether I know what you did for a living”
“No really, do you really know what I did for a living?”
“Oh come on Dad what do you mean?” I snapped..
It had been one of those beastly Mondays at work… the early morning conference call turned out to be useless since most of the key people invited decided not to join in. The mid-day review meeting was a disaster with each of the project parameters being in the red, and the end of the day was capped with an excruciatingly drawn out 2 hour long commute to cover a distance less than 15 kms.
And on top of that, she has not been taking my calls since our argument on Sunday night. I mean I know I was the one who missed out on our date, but what do you do when your boss tells you to deliver something like, Now? But yeah, she does not want to understand. She is hurt, she says, and well, I am not going to call again.
So I come back to my apartment and joined my father for a drink… hoping for a much needed respite from my day. And he asks me with a drink in hand, if I knew what he did for a living !
“Sheesh Dad, you were a banker. That’s what you did for a living. Everyone and their uncle knows that !”
“Right. So I am sure you remember the award for best employee I was given in 1977 when I was posted at the Jaisalmer branch?” Asked my father, in the still slightly patronizing way I so detested…
“Dad, I was not even born then, how could I remember that?”
“Fair enough… then what about the time when I was so stressed out at work that I was working late nights for a promotion that did not work out so well… this would have been at Aurangabad… you would have been 16 then”
“You seemed to work late nights pretty much all the time Papa, Mama used to make us go to bed even before you returned home on most days”
“Aaah, right. You were asleep most of the times when I came back from work.”
“Do you remember Mr Kapoor, my colleague?”
“Kapoor Uncle? Sure, he worked with you at the Mumbai office”
“You remember how he kept me in the dark about the training at New York and booked a spot for himself?”
“How would I know what happened at your office Dad? In any case these things happened more than a decade ago!”
“And yet you say; that you know what I did for a living”
I remained quiet… not really sure what my father was driving at.
“Am sure you did not know who were the guys I competed with, compared myself with. Or whether I was a good employee, or a bad one at that. Or whether my appraisals were glowing testimonials to my efficiency or the complete opposite of that!”
I shook my head and shrugged…
“When a son does not bother what his father really did at work, do you think anyone else really gives a damn? I see you come home each night consumed by something or the other that happened at work. You compare and contrast and think of nothing else but how dissatisfied you are with your job.”
“I am selling my spirit for money you say !” Exclaimed my father raising his glass.
“Ten years down the line no one will care what you accomplished on the job today… not even you. Do you even remember what your great grandfather did for a living? He was a very successful lawyer just so you know. Do you think that mattered to you ? Ever ?”
“We spend our whole lives building careers that no one really cares for except us. And then we convince ourselves that we do it for others? That our success makes us better for our family, for our kids… Really?”
“I may have been a banker or a politician, but at the end of it you would still not have cared… and we would still be drinking together at the end of a long tiring day”
“Had you been a politician, we would have definitely been drinking better stuff than this rum Dad”
My father smiled as he got up…
“Think about it…Do you need a refill?”
“Sure” I said as I scrambled to get up from the bean bag , “I just need to call someone before that.”
“Work?” He asked me, with that famous arching of the eyebrows again.
“No” I smiled as I dialled her number, “Something more important that”