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freedom

He watched the little house-sparrow as it hopelessly continued crashing against the glass.

The little life could see the whole world outside, it could see its clan but could not reach out to them. As if an invisible monster is putting its hand on the way just for fun.

Panicked, the bird was fluttering its wings against the glass, as if to break it. But it's too strong against the little creature. Monsters are always strong.

He joined this organisation about a year back. It was a double promotion with a 100 per cent hike. The offer was too lucrative for him to ignore and he was confident about his ability.

Life in his last organisation was painful. He never could adjust with his boss. His boss, who was as if straight from a pig farm, used to abuse him everyday, every moment. Belittling him in front of others were a routine affair. And that fellow had lungs. People three floors down could hear what was being dished out to the subordinates. It was embarrassing thereafter to share the lift.
The new office is smooth. Bosses hardly call him. It's all communicated through emails. Here you only here whispers. Perfect civilised culture.

When he left his last office many things doubled. His post, salary, responsibilities, prestige. Abuse was a thing of past now. The work hours are now saner. No one forces him to stay till midnight. You can leave when the clock strikes five. Only thing is that you have to meet the deadline.

Absurd deadlines.

Since he joined the office, he doesn't remember a single day he didn't come to home past midnight. No one forces him to stay, yet he is too scared to leave. If he doesn't meet the deadline, his job will go. And he is not going to get a better paying job with the same designation.
Everyday his right to existence is questioned ... by no one, but by himself.

The bird was now losing its strength. It is fluttering its wings less now. Its more resigned kind of attitude. Perhaps it is waiting for the inevitable. And like all inevitable, it doesn't know what it is.
He sat on the chair. The door is shut, the window is the only escape route, so the bird thinks, but he sees it as closed through the glass. Who knows where from the bird came ... ah ... that hole in the wall. It just slipped in. But now it is not getting the hole back. Or may be It has forgotten about the hole. Just to ensure the bird doesn't escape through that route, he plugs the hole with a newspaper. The bird flutters again. May be thinking the giant has arrived finally to claim its life.

He sinks into his chair once again. He lites a cigarette. Soon the room will be filled with smoke. The bird will panic more. Or, will it get drugged? He will wait and watch.
His boss sent the whole office a congratulatory message heaping praise about him. It was a perfect polished English. Every word was chosen, fullstops, commas, parenthesis were carefully weighed and executed. It was a sharp sharp business mail. It was copied to the entire office.
Everybody was congratulating him for landing a major project for the company working day and night.

He had to deliver an impromptu speech. He started with thanking his team. The members of his team roared in appreciation. He praised the company, the work culture and of course he promised more such projects to come. There was a never ending round of clapping. The whole world was excited. Still, he was feeling uneasy, he didn't know why.

When he was on his way to the cafeteria, he heard some floating conversation. The participants stopped and greeted him with a smile that only tie-doning executives can flash. It's always like the email. They were cursing him in the filthiest of language. He wondered why.
He didn't expected this quick an action. His entire team got a fat bonus. And the target for the month was almost double. There was a note faintly indicating the next month's bonus will also be double if the deadline is met. Of course, the 'if' was just for the sake of language. Just to erase the green line appearing in Microsoft Word when you write a wrong or fractional sentence.

He was quick in distributing the responsibilities. There was no time to relax. There was no past achievement. There is no time to relax. If this project is not met ... the company is going to sink – something this sort he wrote. It's always sort of similar tone. Every time they meet the deadline to keep the company floating. Yet, the next time a bigger project comes and his top bosses forecast a doom if the project is not done. The company is only stable in the intermediate period when the work for the project is going on.

Next day two resignation letters came. Again two the following day. These are all junior level executives. They all have 1-4 years of experience. They hop job at will. And you cannot stop them. He doubled the salary of his existing staff. There were cheers. Many of team came to his cabin and thanked him.

Today, two more resignations came.

The deadline is only five more day to come.

He didn't had a proper sleep for may be eight months. He was feeling tired. He was looking at the bird and puffing his cigarette. The bird has given up. It is not moving now. It is sitting idle at the corner. It was intently looking at the open sky. A whole wave of sparrows are dancing in the wind. It's autumn. Although there is not much of trees here and nature is of course a distant possibility, but there's romance everywhere. It's there mating season.

Do birds feel sad?

He sank into his rocking chair bit more. It's a nice one. He bought it from the US when he was there for a week-long business trip. He looked at his wrist watch. A nice Swiss one. His first watch was a local one. His father gave him during his class ten board exams. It was a proud possession for him. He used to sleep wearing the watch, he used to rub it everyday with a fresh linen. There was not a single scratch on the glass. Whenever he used to sweat, he used to spend at least half-an-hour time cleaning its chain. It was a prized possession. His sister never dared to touch it, she was not allowed to touch the gem in his collection. It was a state-run cheap watch company. Made for masses. And it was still working after fifteen years of its life.

But he is not sure where it is now. When changing his flat this time, he gave it to a packer. He gleefully took it with him and thanked the generous Sir a thousand time. The watch was the last link to his old poverty-stricken life that he has left many many miles away. Never to return.
The watch that he is wearing now costs some five thousand dollars. It was given to him by his European bosses for landing a big project for the company.

He handles it very carefully. It's heavy. It's no fun wearing, but, it was given by his bosses.
Oh shit! It's 10.30 already. That means he was sitting and watching the bird for three hours now. God! Three hours wasted from the five days of deadline!

“Hey birdie, would you talk to me?”
“free me”
“who am i to free you?”
“i cannot lift the window glass, do it for me and i should be free”
“what if i want to keep you here in this room? Forever? And i would be giving you good food. And everything you want. Accept my proposal. It's better than freedom isn't it? anyway all you do the whole day is to search for food only”
“but why do you want to keep me in bondage?”
“that's the question. That's precisely what the question is. Why?
“why?”
“i don't know.”
“free me”
“no. No way. You have entered my den. And i don't free anyone. live with me or just perish.”

He started laughing like a maniac. As if the same invisible monster that was blocking the bird's way was shaking him now violently. His tone was changing. It was almost like a hissing sound, the waves of laughter was choking his breath. Just as a snake hypnotises its victim before injecting its sweet venom, he was fixed on the now tired birdie.
The sparrow again started fluttering and crashing against the invisible monster.

Comments

Shuv said…
nice thought, gr8 style..but the protagonist is too stereotyped. kind of like manmohan desai portrays rich businessmen.
Ghetufool said…
i know. ignore the story, i was just checking the style.

and this is the least satisfying piece i have written ever. but just tried.

and the thought was not nice. i tried doing something else and got tired midway. who cares. i have only my closest friends as the reader.
Vincent said…
Powerful story, well worth the writing. In desperate need of editing though.
Vincent said…
Actually, your story is amongst the best you have done and probably is the best. It is rough-cut at the moment needing a careful polish at the level of each sentence, to give it a lustre. It actually resonates long after one has read it.
Ghetufool said…
was it a story? are you serious? it was just a lazy page-filler.
Vincent said…
It was certainly a story, arousing strong feelings in the reader and reflections too: whether the world of work is indeed like this. What I (the reader) should do about it to obtain my own freedom. Is this the nature of capitalism? that I should allow myself to be enslaved to greed? I earn twice as much so as to make my working life into a stressful experience of long hours, never attaining that which I seek?What is the point of earning twice as much anyhow?

Putting it in the context of India, is this what the country is signing up to, in its search for economic advancement for its people? Isn't this what is also happening in China?

What you have written is up-to-the-moment.
Scout said…
i was here :)
Scout said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vincent said…
If you would like me to edit this I would start with the title, and change it to "Free as a bird".
Vincent said…
I took the liberty of quoting from this story (my edited version) in my latest blog post. It would be wonderful to be able to reproduce the entire story on my blog, with acknowledgements to your nom-de-plume Ghetufool of course. But you may not wish it, for copyright reasons . . .
Ghetufool said…
copyright??? are you kidding? have you decided not to edit my stories anymore?

shall i give you the id and password if you want so?
Ghetufool said…
btw, you are my highly paid PR too. it's your duty to quote me here and there. don't forget
Vincent said…
I am still waiting for the promised pay. It has been due several months and all I have received is promises - and never-ending demands. The world should know this.

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