“A woman is supposed to work, but only at home. Stop being selfish.”
Simran was from a conservative household. She had to fight the elders to complete her post graduation. They wanted to marry her off and get the burden off their shoulders.
That was 3 years ago. She ran away from her home and started working with an MNC in Gurugram. She didn’t have a home she could call her own, but her education provided the shelters she needed. Life in a PG was good enough for her. In 3 years she had climbed the corporate ladder quicker than her colleagues. She was financially stable enough to buy a second hand car and was the inspiration for all young ladies in her office. This journey had not been easy though
She had freedom from the constrictive restraints of her home but it was still a challenge to stand tall in a man’s world. She had to work harder to prove herself every day. She had been asked for sexual favors many times in exchange for promotions. It was somehow seen as acceptable. Despite all this, the quality of her work and her perseverance shone through.
Her days were filled with crumpled balls of paper, paper cups with lipstick marks and restrictive clinchers. She had just given an interview for a high level post that would give her the control over the company’s northern division. She was consciously confident.
The phone rang. It was her boss. This was it.
“Hey Simran, I hope you are doing well. I have some good news and some bad news. Which one would you like first?”
“Let us start with the bad news.” She replied.
“Alright, I will be blunt here. We have chosen to go with Rachit for the Zone Head position. I am sorry.”
Simran’s heart sank. She had worked for this position for months but ultimately failed. She struggled to speak, “What is the good news?”
“The good news is that you are next in line to replace him. If he is poached or decides to leave, you have the first right to refusal.”
This gave her some hope. It was a consolation prize but at least it was something. She was just one step away from being the Zonal Head. She did have one question in her mind though, “Sir, can you tell me why they didn’t pick me? I need some honest feedback so that I can work on myself and improve. Where did I fall short?”
Her boss hesitated, “Um… well there were many factors. Rachit was more confident and assured…he had a better posture during the interview and um…well we had an eye on our competitors as well. I hope you understand.”
She didn’t understand. She asked for a clarification.
“You know how our rivals just put Rishabh as their Zone Head. He is an assertive guy and we needed someone who could compete with his, you know, aggressive streak.” Simran understood what was going on. She exchanged petty pleasantries and put the phone down.
She had been rejected because she was a woman. They couldn’t have said it outright, but she understood what they meant. She felt numb. It was if she was floating in the air. She couldn’t believe it. The bed was the only thing giving her a semblance of comfort. Her eyes were moist. Her mind took her to the house she had left long back. She tried to sleep but only one thought ran in her head,
“Things had changed, and yet, they had not.”
Read more on mental health of working women here: Working Women & Mental Health