Sunday, July 7, 2013

Paradigm Shift


Short Story
Manmohan returned home from the market with a bottle –  among the usual things –  that was totally unfamiliar to Meera, his wife. 

“The tide is turning,” explained Manmohan, “and I’m going to celebrate it.”

Manmohan was a teacher in a residential school which was taken over by a new management a couple of months back.  The new management was of the opinion that the old faculty was responsible for the “downfall” of the school. 

“A school is its faculty,” asserted the new chairman.  So most of the faculty was asked to leave.  Manmohan was among the few who did not merit the axe yet. Yet!

That’s not what he was celebrating, however.  “I won’t be able to meet you the whole day from tomorrow,” said Manmohan to his wife.  “See, I work in a residential school where I’m not just a teacher.  I am a parent to the students in the hostel, a guide to the students when they are in study, a tutor to the weak students, and a mentor to those in need...”

“What about your own children and me?”  Meera gasped.

“Every job has its hazards, darling.  We live in the age of the corporate rule.  Perform or perish.”  He did not repeat what the Princi had said, ‘You look after the children of the school and god will look after your family.’  Manmohan had more faith in work than in gods.

“But you have been performing wonderfully!  Your work has always been appreciated...” 

“I’m becoming too costly for them, darling.  They can easily hire fresh hands for half my salary.”  Or else take up more responsibilities to justify the salary, he muttered to himself.

He had been summoned by the Principal for taking up his new duties some of which were administrative in nature.  He explained that he was a teacher who loved his job of teaching and was not interested in becoming an administrator. 

“See, Man,” said the Princi.  “You are too old to take up a post as a teacher in another school.  If at all you want to survive you’ll have to learn some administration and apply for the vice principal’s if not principal’s post.”

“But,” Manmohan’s eyes dilated, “I have neither the appetite nor the inclination for administrative jobs.  I love books and teaching.”

Administration is about dealing with people.  Adults.  Not adolescents whose pranks he loved as a teacher.  He found people profoundly boring.  That’s how books became his companions. 

“Boss is trying to help me,” said Manmohan to his wife as he poured himself a second drink.  “That’s what I’m celebrating.”

“What help?”  She couldn’t understand.  “You are being asked to do things which you don’t like and probably can’t do.”

“Don’t underestimate me so much, dear,” said Manmohan suppressing a sneer that was directed at himself.  “Boss is saying in other words, ‘We want to sack you too.  But we are giving you time to save yourself by learning a job that your age can probably secure.’  Isn’t that a reason for celebration?”

Meera tried to imagine her husband on the hostel warden’s chair after his regular classroom duties.  She visualised him sitting with a bunch of files in the place of his beloved Dostoevsky and Kazantzakis, Kafka and Camus.

Manmohan felt elated after two drinks.  He switched on his laptop, connected to Homeshop18 and ordered for Andrea Hirata’s book, The Rainbow Troops.

“For nostalgia’s sake,” he said though Meera had not asked anything.

Just outside the room, down the window, a tomato seed had sprouted and was trying to grow in a thin layer of soil that lay on the concrete lining.





 Note: This is purely a work of fiction.  

32 comments:

  1. Oh! The compulsions of life!

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    1. Life continues to teach us till the grave!

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  2. Ah! The banality of today's competitive world!

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    1. One has to accept it unless one possesses enough vision to change it.

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  3. All I can say is the shift looks really huge !!

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  4. A transformation not sought out, but was thrust upon.

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    1. Either we change the ambience or it changes us.

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  5. All I can hope for is that you agree and take up the job. You could be the last hope. Besides, you can look at it like an adventure.

    Please.....

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  7. Sir, love that parent thing.Hope they'll recognize your original attire soon.

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  8. Today's world is all about Jobs, competion and the law of survival of the fittest.You have very overtly brought out the dilemma of a perplexed mind, which is forced to do something, which is not his cup of tea.

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    1. I'm sure there are plenty of people in the world who are in similar situations - doing something which they don't like to but are compelled to.

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  9. Too much dilemma for surviving in this worlds .. nicely poured through words !

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  10. sometimes you r forced to do things which you never wanted...such impressive writing adds a greater importance to the story....

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  11. Wonderful!!
    That was truly a paradigm shift!! Loved the ending. It's strange how human beings adapt themselves to the change when struck by the appropriate strings of words!
    Pen is mightier than sword...words better than actions!

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    1. It's our experiences that really make the pen mightier than the sword.

      Thanks for the appreciation. I'm starved of it these days.

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  12. because I have been following your blog and know exactly what you have written I am a little sad. I know it must be hard and whatever you have written created the right kind of pictures. I hope seriously that things improve for better and honestly as someone who needs books and writing, I know how much I fight in office to find my own time, my heart goes out to the "teacher" .

    Please keep us posted on the developments even if its through stories...

    Richa

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    1. It's really nice to know that there are people who really care. Thanks, Richa.

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  13. Even though you have written this as a story, I think there must be some truth in it (I have read your posts about the change in the school management). If I am right, I hope you learn the art of hypocrisy soon enough because you will need it to deal with recalcitrant adults. Best of luck!

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  14. "Note: This is purely a work of fiction."

    Yes, of course ... and, I am Einstein

    And, look how literature-challenged I am - I have ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE AS TO WHAT YOU MEANT BY THE LAST SENTENCE.

    Are you saying the tomato plant cannot put down roots, growing on concrete and all that?

    RE

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    1. You are indeed literature-challenged, Raghuram :)

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  15. The objective correlative in the last line is excellent!

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    1. Thank you. In a way I'm indebted to Erik Erikson, psychologist, for the correlative. He spoke about the strength of the survival instinct and its role in psychology after watching the struggle of a potato to grow in thin soil.

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  16. Very nice post. The story reminds me about the uncertainty of our life and our jobs. Really, these days things are very uncertain and some times the fastest survives only not the fittest.

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    1. Happy that you found the story relevant and good. Perhaps, every age had similar problems. Value systems also keep changing, no doubt.

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  17. A very moving story about the prospective devastation of a man of intellect in a world that is apparently hostile in the best of its pretenses. The only satisfaction is that it is purely a work of fiction!

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