“ 16 lakhs!! That’s it???” growled Changu’s father, jumping from his chair like a rebounding spring, as he heard the news of his son’s salary package on joining an unknown Company named GUI Soutions.
“ Shame on you!! I must be damned that my son will be earning a mere 16 lakhs as a starting salary. Kumar has invited us for his daughter’s marriage reception on the 24th of the month. I will cut a sorry figure before the guests when they come to know that a graduate from IIM-Z earns so less.”
“ But dad…” Changu tried in vain to reason, clutching his Galaxy tight to his ear. His father would not relent.
“ Changu beta, it’s me” His mother had just snatched the phone from his father in the nick of time. There is something about mothers and their expertise in rescue missions.
“I will talk to your father. Don’t worry too much. We will see you soon at the convocation. Bye beta and take care of your health.” Mom was at her consoling best.
Changu’s dad was still blowing hot. She sat beside him and tried soothing him.
“ Suno ji. Please leave it. So what if it is just a 16 lakh salary package. How mad will you be at him? After all he is our son. I am sure he will do better than this in the coming days and get a decent pay.”
Her words seem to have the desired effect as Changu’s father mellowed down like a spent volcano.
“Its 2016 now. For the past 5 years I have read enough about the salaries of IIM kids not being less than a crore. And here your spoilt ‘saabzaadaa’ comes up with peanuts as pay. Hope the almighty pumps some sense into his head. Is this why we let him go to an IIM?? I don’t know.”
He said with a resigned sigh, as if someone had just stolen his credit card.
Changu’s father had given up. He was referring to the newspaper daily which had just come up with its annual special of the season - a column dedicated to IIM grads and their pay packages, for the 5th time in a row. Reading it had rendered his morning tea tasteless, especially when seen in light of his son’s ‘mediocre’ placement exploits.
Changu hung up, rather depressed from the call. He remembered the year when had graduated from IIT-Y in 2014. Like many of his star-struck (and dollar-struck) class-mates and 5 lakh other aspirants, he had given the online CAT and aced it to perfection. From among the plethora of coveted IIM calls, he had converted IIM-Z. How happy was he then!
A few months down the line, he realized that things were not as rosy as they seemed or were portrayed. To him it seemed as if he was caught in a whirpool of sorts; everyone was good at everything and most importantly better than him. Amidst all this, he had been fortunate enough to secure a job at the fag end of the placements in a infra company. He cursed himself for having rejected his graduation offer to come to this damned place. But life was without a Ctrl+Z as much as he wished it to be.
A few months later, it was convocation time. Friendship hugs, exchanging promises to be in touch till the last breath and final photography sessions were the flavor of the day for the graduating students. Changu bid a tearful farewell to his friends and proceeded for a full month’s rest before he joined his new workplace.
The evening of 24th – At the wedding reception
It was a simple wedding reception spread over one of the well-lit lawns in city. There was a generous sprinkling of guests, which included Changu’s family. Changu’s father was at his bonding best.
“So this is your son from the great IIM-Z, is it?. Got placed?” said a man who was artificially beaming. It was a rhetorical question, the one which would serve the purpose of a conversation-starter.
“Yes Khanna-saab, my son. He is already placed with…er..beta, what is the company name?” Changu’s father turned to him.
“ GUI Solutions..’Give-up Infra Solutions’ uncle.” Said Changu hesitantly.
“Ok good good. (Pauses) Its ok, don’t worry. You can do well and earn well.” said Mr.Khanna with a pat, as if Changu was crying inconsolably. Then he continued.
“By the way, have you heard of Karan’s daughter, she was also in some IIM and now earns about 40 lakhs. She works for a bank he said. The girls earn a lot these days.”
Changu’s father shot a scornful “You loser” look at Changu, hell-bent on giving him a sharp dressing down later.
After the dinner, on the way back, Changu and his father had a quick one-n-one.
Father: “ Saw that? You should see and learn. She got a finance job and not some cheap infra thing. Its time that you grew up, earned and took responsibility”.
Changu instantly felt like a 5th grade kid being taken apart by his father for an abysmal report card.
Changu: “Dad. You do not know much about the placement process and the companies. And anyways most of them want girls and are focused on it.”
Father: “I know everything. You must have fallen in bad company while in college. Do not give excuses to cover up for your incompetence. That girl got admission into 1 among the top 3 IIMs in country. I saw the rankings of the college in the same paper which has the 1 crore news.”
Changu: (rebelling silently) “That’s because she is a girl. She gets extra points for being one. I never got any for being a guy. All I get is taunts”
Father: “Enough!! No need to whine like a sexist loser. When someone is doing better than you, you should acknowledge, learn & improve and not badmouth people, especially the girls. It’s your mother’s mistake, I always wanted a girl and then you happened. They do much better than you boys do, like in the board exams.”
Changu realized that the conversation had the potential of being a all-nighter unless he stopped responding to his father.
He looked away with a slight smile, quite amused at the final comment, a rather loose one referred to the board exams.