Reconciled

I thought I was smart. I can figure out a lot of stuff, stuff a lot of others can’t fathom at all.

I started realizing a flaw in the above logic a few years back. To be precise, almost around 15 years back when I did a tiny course on “Finance for the non-financial”, even got a book by the name. The course was great, and I learnt so much, probably more than I have ever learnt from a 3-day course.

And then I suffered from short term memory loss. Now where finance is concerned, my brain is like a sieve, the numbers and logic just filter out and what is left is a fuzzy soupy liquid with some keywords floating around which I vaguely understand and cannot possibly relate to.  I was good at math, once upon a time. I understood compound interest and derivatives and statistics. Probability, well, ahem, I always had probable answers, which turned out probably wrong slightly more than 50% of the time, as statistics proved. But I always knew how to solve the problem as soon as I knew the solution, isn’t that uncanny? I mean that is sheer reverse engineering.

Problem with being part of the corporate world is that a ton is about numbers (it is about weight too, if you know what I mean). You need to be able to read (and interpret) financial statements, profit and loss, cash flow and other such blah when you are talking to your boss, who keeps rattling numbers and jargons. Or when sitting through meetings with the CxOs of the organization with incomprehensible terms like COGS and CAGR and ARPU and ACV floating around, you must fight hard to make head and tail of what people are trying to communicate and plug in the torso too. Being the person who still needs to count how many zeroes in a million (is it five or six?). (on her fingers, stupid), and still calculate like 20, 200, 2000, 20000 and so on till I reach the required number of zeroes needed and I am reasonably confident about the excel sheet, you can imagine how accountable I feel, pun intended.

Then there is taxation which is heavily taxing, despite rebates. Why the hell do they have to have so many sections under which you can possibly save, and then sub heads. To me 80 CCD only makes me wonder about how many Café Coffee Days outlets are there at Pune. Every year, when it comes to computing taxes, and figuring out saving, advance tax, net income, and translating questions that my spouse and CA have for the finance teams, understanding the responses, gets on my nerves. I mean, why can’t they just talk to each other and be done with it. And why don’t they use English for that matter? So we end up fighting every year, without fail, whenever this topic comes up, because I don’t get the net, and my husband doesn’t get it and is grossly upset. And every year I resolve that next year, I will do this on my own, it is not rocket science (that may be easier?). I will definitely, positively, next year.

God forbid if someone starts talking stocks and assets and liquid and solid funds and expects me to make an intelligent response, they have another thing coming.  They are like far far beyond imagination, like an afterlife, I have heard about it, maybe they do exist, I am sure, and people who understand it, I am sure, have supernatural powers. I have never, till date, figured out the market. When one sells, another buys, and both of them think they are helluava smart! Really.

My mind has learnt to quietly shut down and think out of the garbage whenever a discussion around such topics come up, while all the gibberish is debated and discussed around me. I am the kind of person who If asked to balance the cash, would bring in the scales and start measuring. But I pay a lot of interest, to my work and the movies I watch and whether my maids are cleaning the house properly. These days there is always a hot debate in every forum on GST with people chiming in favor and against the same. I realize then, what good a listener I am. I mean, I can nod at all the right places, and intelligently.

Sometimes my employees start talking ESOPs and ESPP, my heart starts beating faster, question 1 simple, cleared, question 2, medium complexity, managed it, now what the hell does he mean by that question no 4? Then I rattle off something about a critical urgent meeting that I forgot and promise to come back on his questions, on mail of course, so I have the time to google it, before responding.

To further add to my woes, my son talks finance, and in my office, I am surrounded on all sides by teams who are nicknamed as AP and AR (If you have read so far, you sure know what these mean). Recently I have been asked to perform a marathon task called financial planning, I am going to look it up in the dictionary. I need a tax-man to save me now. Or maybe an insect like an account-ant.

 

 

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Sometime in 2010

It isn’t easy. Even though you are smart enough to realise you are moving into depression, you can’t avoid it. Especially when you know that the world has not shattered, it only feels like that.

The first day was a shock, total and complete. We live in a world where nobody is spared but I had probably developed a firm belief that I was immune and nothing could impact me, however big the situation. After three weeks I am still in a state of denial- my counsellor says. Maybe writing will ease the pain.

They just handed over the letter, just like that. It was Monday morning and I drove all the way across Delhi- it used to be a pain then, today I’ll welcome it. My boss had called me to his hotel. I thought I knew what he wanted to discuss, impact on my organisation due to cost control, I had heard the CEO in the last All Hands- what needs to be done, who will get impacted, how do we handle the work as nothing stops ever. Of course it could not be discussed in office. It had to be outside. I had thought it out, what needs to be done and so on. I had worked most of the weekend as the super boss was also going to be there that week and we needed to be prepared. I reached the hotel and called my boss. He came down and said he had taken a biz centre on 1st floor. I followed him there and when we entered the centre, I saw an HR person there too. It did not even strike me then. Overconfidence! There was also a letter on the table in an envelope. I noticed everything but not what it implied.

I sat down. Chit chat and then he said the famous words. “Your role has been impacted”. I remember I kept saying ok, ok to all that he was saying but something was building up inside me. I know the HR person was describing the various options available to me but nothing registered. Then I got up and said something like I need a break. I knew I was crying and did not really care. I walked out and went to the only place – restroom where I could be alone and away from eyes for some time.

Few minutes inside and I was angry. Why me? I had not done anything wrong- I had reasonably good performance. People said I was good. And I knew it. Knew it in all sincerity that I was better than several out there. I needed to find out. I stomped out and went back to the den. I said I wanted to talk to my boss. The HR person still did not leave. I asked- why me? He said he was going to be honest and that one of us had to go- either it would have been him or me. I had nothing more to say after that. Today I am not even sure what he said was true, but that day it took everything out of me. I had no more fight left. The HR person kept on droning something which I never really heard, just said fine to everything . Handed over my entry to the office- access card and left. With my head held high.

This encounter has taken a lot out of me. Maybe the HR person realised that. She asked if I wanted to talk to some counsellor etc. She said it very gently but I was angry. I snapped at her- Do you think I am going to jump off a cliff. I won’t!

The first week wasn’t so bad. In order to prove to others that I was a survivor, I had to remain strong and that helped. I spoke to a number of people. Told everyone that I was fine. I knew the ropes. This happened in MNCs .

The second week was sending reminders to everyone. My mornings always started with a flurry of mails in the morning on the blackberry. Now I open my mail folder and it is empty. This is an emptiness that I dread every day. I am the only one who is free- everyone around me is so busy. I hardly had a social life. My life revolved around my work, my family.

The third week is bad. I can’t laugh any more. My mother says that it is taking a toll on me. I try to keep busy by cooking, networking, reading and some TV. I always used to think; when I have spare time I will do so many things. But I can’t focus too much on anything. I don’t feel like talking much; go about my duties with a blank mind. Can’t sleep much. I wake up every couple of hours. Earlier I used to feel the lack of sleep. Now when I have time, I can’t utilise it. It is ironic.

My counsellor says I am still in “denial”. A friend had come all the way from Chennai to Delhi and wanted to meet for lunch. I made an excuse and did not meet him. I did not want to talk about my work, this was the only way to avoid it. “101 excuses to avoid tough topics”. My family wants me to attend a function in Jaipur. I am avoiding it. People will make small talk- how is work? What do I say- should I lie? Should I avoid it? Let me be smarter and avoid the trip. Right, I am in denial. That is fine. I’ll live with it.

Will any medicine take that pain away from me- ever?