A job never comes easy. There is a learning curve. It takes time to understand your work and to adapt to the surroundings. While few are natural at this art, most struggle and work really hard to learn, adapt and progress.
“I’m running late, we need to rush,” said Sanya as soon as she finished her calcium endorsed milk.
“It’s okay to run late, but you can’t actually run right now. It’s the eighth month for you.” reminded Shaan, her better half.
“You know well about the client I am working for. He believes in micro management, and I find hard to meet the deadlines.”
“You can’t work on that assignment anymore. You have been working crazy hours for the last six months, but not now. You spoke to your manager two months back about this. What happened?”
Sanya wondered what had happened. She had been working in her current firm for the last one and a half year. After some random assignments, she was put on a team of two people working for a counterpart in Germany. The project was demanding and demeaning but she kept her hopes up. Her intention was to challenge the challenge involved in that assignment.
It was not until the end of the first trimester of her pregnancy, that she requested her manager to pull her off that team. Her drained body was not able to match the pace of the project. He promised her a replacement, but it had been four months and she was still juggling her work and health.
“What happened?” Shaan tapped Sanya out of the past.
“Nothing.” she blinked her eyes and looked at the clock. “I know. I need to talk. Let’s move.”
As Sanya stepped on the office curb that day she had a whole speech prepared in her head. She knew her boss, Rana, was a difficult man to talk to, but she had faith that she will be heard and hope that she will be understood.
Sanya was early to work and saw Rana working on his laptop.
“Hi Rana. Busy?” she grabbed the perfect opportunity to talk to him in his cubicle.
“Hi Sanya. No, tell me,” he said raising his head from his laptop.
“This is regarding my transfer to another project. As you are aware, my condition is not allowing me to work on these stringent deadlines. I had made a request regarding this four months back.” she said politely yet confidently.
The last sentence did not go well with him and he said rather sternly, “I am looking for someone. Also John tells me your deliverables are below quality and deadlines are often missed.”
Sanya was not the sharpest mind on that floor, but she sure was diligent and responsible. She had been a good worker and knew when to push blames, which came her way unnecessarily.
“If the counterpart in Germany is not happy with my work, I suggest you look for someone soon Rana. I am applying the same effort in my work, but somehow, it is not being received in the same way now.”
The woman had spoken her mind. She laid the cards, in black and white. No greys, no caveats. Be it a home or a workplace, a confident woman even in a right tone is considered wrong at times, so was she that day!
It had been a week since the last episode of words and still there was no sign for replacement. As Sanya worked on her new assignment that night a ding dong on her outlook caught her attention. It was an invite checking for availability of Sanya, Rana, and Deepa, an HR manager.
“Aah! They have finally found a resource. I can’t wait for tomorrow.” She said to herself as she gave a sigh of relief.
The wait was over, and before Sanya knew, the day arrived when it all began. She was the third person to enter the conference room and slowly grabbed her chair.
After the pleasantries, the drill began.
“Sanya you have been with us for quite sometime, and as I understand your work is going down the hill lately.” Deepa was quite a pro at her work and knew how to save time by not beating around the bush.
To make things simpler for flabbergasted Sanya, Deepa continued, “Rana here mentions that both John and himself are unhappy with your work and demands your attention. We are really worried about your appraisal this year.”
Sanya was amazed at the reward she was getting to work on a daunting project. She always knew Rana and she did not get off on the right foot, but this was despicable.
“Sanya, any comments?” checked Deepa.
A woman’s tears are often taken as a sign of weakness and Sanya did not want anyone to take pleasure in her pain. Her inside felt broken and weak but she managed to talk, “I am here to work. I work well. My work may not be perfect but my intention to work is.” Turning her head to Rana she continued, “Also, can he produce one email which states the corrective feedback he provided me on my work?”
Rana was furious as he said, “I did verbally.”
“Yes. Once. A week back, and that makes you question my work? All I wanted was to switch my team as this project is weighing me down. I never play the pregnancy card, because I don’t consider it a hindrance to my work, but I do expect people to be a little considerate.”
After a few allegations from both sides, with Deepa making notes, they all left the room. Sanya felt out of breathe, while Rana was red with temper. He was not used to his juniors cross-questioning his methods. Sanya was aware of many precedents who had quit because of Rana’s mannerism. He was one tough cookie, who got a little chipped today.
As she got off the meeting room, she knew two things – (1) Things wouldn’t be easy for her at work now. (2) Her manager had no intention to take her off that project.
“You are not the bread earner for this home. I am here to support us. Of course, there will be little financial crunch, but we will manage.” Shaan spoke after listening to the ordeal that Sanya had faced in the office that day.
“You know I don’t work for money.”
“I know what you work for – yourself. I completely understand and support your philosophy, but things are different now.” He said looking at her baby bump.
“I know I can quit, but won’t that be easy? He may be stronger in his position and can play dirty politics but he should know what a stubborn mind is capable of doing. I may not succeed but it will kill me to think I didn’t even try. If anything, I am not a quitter Shaan. That’s not what my child will learn from me.” Tears started to roll down her cheeks. She had held it tight the whole day but as the day relaxed, so did her eyes.
Shaan hugged her and said, “Fine. Go ahead and cry all you want today. Tomorrow is a new day.”
She gave a faint smile.
Shaan did what a man should do – he let the woman decide for herself. He trusted his wife’s decision. If he was the father, then she was the mother of the unborn. He knew she would take the best decision for the two lives tagging with her.
She did take the best decision the very next day. After doing the diligence at night, getting her facts straight, pointers prepared, data to back up her pointers sorted, she marched to the Vice President of the company’s cubicle once she reached her workplace.
After introducing herself, she narrated him the whole incident. The unnecessary ramifications, the mental pain inflicted on her, her hard work going unnoticed, her patience getting tested.
“I know Rana is in this company for last 15 years. He has good understanding and credentials, while I am new. What happened with me should be a lesson to others and they should not be caught off guard. I wanted to be heard. Silence would have made it worse, and I have not learnt to quit”, said Sanya in conclusion. Once a person loses the fear to lose, he gains.
“I’m sorry for what all happened. It shouldn’t have and I can’t take it back. What I can do is to look into the matter and get it sorted as soon as I can.” He spoke like true gentlemen and demonstrated the leadership quality he possessed to be in that position.
“Thank you!” Sanya felt relieved.
“Welcome. Also, I love the fact that you aren’t a quitter and a piece of advice – always make sure people hear you. Never delay the process.” He smiled as she got up to leave.
Sure enough in just two days Sanya was transferred to another team – a team she wanted to be a part of. The email came directly from the VP and she promised him good work to prove her mettle. In the coming month, she got two great reviews from her clients. This time she was destined to bloom, as she was planted right.
She rarely saw Rana at water coolers and cafeterias, and they acknowledged each other with a nod, after all they were professionals. Rana still looked at her as a defiant person, and she still took pride in what she was.
Sanya worked till the day her daughter was born and resigned post her maternity break to indulge in the most challenging, taxing and full time work – motherhood. She temporarily withdrew her fingers away from the laptop keys, so that she was more available for her baby’s growing needs. Sanya was happy with this decision – because it was hers!
Nobody will tell her what she can and can’t do. Nobody can ask her to pack up or quit. By making her a woman, God told her that there is nothing unattainable for her. Experiencing pregnancy opened her mind as to what her body can undergo, and experiencing chauvinism made her aware what her inner self can sustain and fight.