Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Back when I was employed by organizations, and shit would go down, my employers expected me to deliver work. It felt surreal to work for those who felt nothing. It was something I never understood.

I recall the death of my beloved pet dog—Circuit. I was at work and left the office after dropping a mail to my senior colleague about it. Of how I needed to be home with my grandfather while my family would go cremate him at a pet crematorium, all of which was sudden and unplanned. I don't think it was a lot to ask for. A day's leave. A day I had clocked in on time. I shouldn't have had to explain over and over and yet I did. 

I remember the first time I had a panic attack (an actual panic attack) that led to a state of breathlessness among other things and I told my boss (at the time) that I'd need a day to recuperate. They went ahead and posted an Instagram status about people feigning excuses to not come to work on Monday. It was something that was brought to my attention by another colleague, and I wish I had actually feigned an excuse on the day of, to garner that response. It broke my heart. For everything I gave out to people, they couldn't bring to deliver empathy? 

I swore to myself to not forge any professional relationship with anyone who felt that their trauma and misery were less than true and be that person to anyone, ever.

In the last month of my last desk job, Delhi was under attack. My work required my presence at an art exhibition opening. My organization wanted me there to update real-time images and statuses from the venue. We approximately were 2-3 km from the university where the firing opened and things were not looking good, the mobile reception was erratic and mobile internet was completely down. I was attempting to work through the dongle at the venue and worried shitless about the intermittent updates I was getting on the state of the city and the riots. I had worried parents call to check on me. Later that evening, there was another art exhibition opening and I had had enough of grinning and keeping a facade. I asked my colleague if she had heard about her alma mater and how it was under attack in the riot which had spread to the part of the town. I can never forget how she kept grinning and responded, "If I paid attention to that right now I wouldn't be able to deliver my work."

And sure, I have no malice towards a person trying to work. None whatsoever. You're there to work, work is what you're there for and you're delivering it. But again, the lack of empathy was disturbing. This was at a time the colleague's digital presence reflected they were at unease whereas in person they're unfazed. I suppose it's a balance as good as any. 

That night was intriguing for several reasons but I'll limit myself to conveying the promise I made to myself. If I ever held a position of power, I would be empathetic to the geo-political situations around me and be cognizant of the needs. 

18 months into this episode, I find myself upset by the fact that I need to deliver a piece to count as my "weekly submission". Make no mistake, I have no employer, it's not commissioned. It's something I do as a personal project to maintain my sanity and yet, here I am glued to the news of the shitshow in Kabul, and the test cricket news, and how perhaps my grandfather would have reacted to both the stories—two ends of a spectrum— and delivered his reasoning. I can't get myself to work for a lot of reasons but needing empathy in my heart and finding the time to grieve is on the top. 

I have a story to tell and a deadline to meet that I am failing. I could push myself and do a hack job but the whole point of this exercise is to not do a hack job. Am I turning into the ones who I hate? Maybe I already have. 

I have nobody to blame for this lapse of judgment; where I believed I could blame someone else for the lack of empathy and push work away for a day. Turns out, things never end, only people do. 

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