Arpita decided to take a break today. She had been working nonstop for the past three weeks, focusing on launching a new product that her company had decided to launch at the decided time despite multiple changes in the features of the product and even the marketing plan itself. In her boss’ words, they were doing it for the customers. In the words of her colleagues, they were doing it to get their boss a promotion.
“‘Twice the work, half the time, same cost.’ That’s an awful great selling point for him to talk about in his next promotion cycle,” one of her colleagues said.
“Yeah! It’s not like he needs to mention that everyone here worked 20 hours a day to get this thing done,” another colleague added.
Arpita usually tried to ignore these things. While she didn’t disagree with this per se, she didn’t find the gossip doing her any good. Feeling bad about her work will only make her do it less efficiently and those hundred and twenty hours work weeks would increase further. Better to put her head down and finish things as quickly as possible.
Yesterday, the product was finally launched. She was one of the lucky few who got a holiday, primarily because it was her birthday and her boss wanted to show how “caring” he was. Arpita knew this too but not unlike her colleagues, she ignored this as well.
She was lying on her bed since 6 am in the morning. That was her usual time to wake up and despite the break, she was unable to sleep beyond this time. But she was adamant to stay in the bed till at least 9 am.
“Thirty minutes to go,” she said to herself looking at the time. She had been scrolling through Instagram for the past 2.5 hrs and was surprised to see that one of her college friends got married.
“Did I get an invitation?” She wondered for a brief second before getting distracted by another image of another friend who had a kid. She remembered getting a message from him about this. She smiled and liked the photograph. He had always wanted a family.
‘What did I want?’ Arpita wondered.
She was dating. Or was she? She checked the messages from Jay and they hadn’t checked on each other for the last month. The last message was her telling him that she’s busy and will call later. There were a few calls from him after that but she hadn’t picked them.
She called him and got no response. She went to his Instagram and he had posted a photo with a new ‘boo’. She knew that she should feel sad but they had been dating only a few months and it was hard to feel any strong emotion. She installed a dating app, swiped for a few minutes, got bored, uninstalled it, and looked at the time again.
“What! Only five minutes have passed. How?” Arpita exclaimed.
Finally, the 8:59 turned to 9:00 and she jumped off the bed. She got ready and then sat on the bed again. Three years of working like a maniac and then overclocking it further in the past three weeks had left her with zero ideas of what to do with her free time.
“What are my hobbies?” Arpita wondered. She looked around the house and saw paintings she used to draw. She hadn’t tried her hand at one for over a year. There was also a keyboard but she didn’t remember having that.
“Oh yeah! Kyle left this one.”
She felt as if she was looking at her house after a long time. She hadn’t come back before 2 am for years now and most of her weekends were either traveling or at work. The only place which looked familiar was the bathroom where she spent most of the time except for the bed.
‘I can’t even remember my own house. Should I slow down?’ She messaged on her phone to the only person with whom she had some semblance of contact.
The reply came almost as swiftly as possible. She sighed. It wasn’t as if she had expected anything else. However, the message continued.
‘How can you even think that? We are barely out of poverty and are still not in any way capable of any financial hardships. Please don’t tell me you are getting these lousy thoughts due to the movies these days. Focus on your work. Focus on earning money. We, your parents, depend on you. Your younger brothers and sisters depend on you. Banish these thoughts from your mind.’
‘It was just a thought.’ Arpita replied. She had not intended to trigger her mother.
‘Is it because of some guy? You know you can’t marry right now. Not before at least one of your brothers is capable of taking care of us.’
‘Yes, mom. Don’t worry. I’m not getting married.’ Arpita messaged looking around her empty apartment. As if I have time to find anyone, she thought.
‘Yes. That’s my girl. Focus on your work. Focus on earning money. And send some more money to us.’
Arpita opened her laptop and sent all the money she had saved for the month. Her salary was due in a couple of days and she could manage the remaining time on her credit cards.
“Now that it’s open, might as well,” Arpita said and started working.
The clock said 9:30 am.