Saturday 13 May 2017

Adding Some Sadness To The Life Of Shyam Prasad

Fiction Short Story In The UAE

Right now, as he walked off into the sunset (or so to speak) from his latest job, he could conclude that his current circumstance could be equated to that of a hapless, thrashing fish out of water. This fascinating analogy, irrefutably and rather unfortunately, hit a small snag on further reflection: a fish out of water had a purpose - to get back in.

He, however, had none.

Ergo, it would be more fitting to equate himself to a dog chasing cars because much like Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, he wouldn't know what to do if he caught one.

That would be it - a canine analogy for the ages. A dog frantically running pell-mell on the street, chasing car after car, each flashier than the one before it.


Every story needs context to make you, the reader, understand. To make you feel. To vicariously live out the precedent six months of our protagonist's life in the following words, so you can for a few minutes, until you finish perusing this piece, be our protagonist as he traipses off into the sunset, freshly unburdened from fetters of corporate bureaucracy yet sagging under an unshakable, irremovable load of guilt.

Six months back he was where most young university graduates find themselves - in the undesirable dome of unemployment. Some people find monotony in work, but he found it in his endless application-rejection cycle. The grindstones of hope, earnestness and desperation would whir into life, raucously churning out one job application after another, but to no avail. The din of these grindstones would grow louder with each day, with the grindstone of increasing desperation easily overpowering the faltering grindstone of diminishing hope.

It took multiple sparks, some sputtering and some spitting, to ignite a candle in the dark gloom of the dome of unemployment. The grindstones were silenced and after what seemed like ages, there was peace. The clawing nails had been snipped; the crying, wailing voices were muted. There was purpose. This brings us to a couple of months back as he walked into his new job, finally at peace, where on the threshold of his first task he met Shyam Prasad.

Innocuous, unassuming Shyam Prasad.

Shyam Prasad was as normal as normal could be. While our protagonist walked in with an aura of confidence, a penchant for time management and a desire to shine like a diamond, Shyam Prasad did none of those. Having done his undergraduate from a town in Tamil Nadu, he was unaware of the politics of corporate hierarchy. He should've established himself from day one. He just didn't know how.

Bumbling, inquisitive Shyam Prasad.

Our protagonist helped him in all his tasks, 'guided' him just so he could complete his work on time. Inspired by just good camaraderie, so that fearful, cautious Shyam Prasad could escape the wrath of the head honchos. A little bit of camaraderie to help reduce the woes of Shyam Prasad.

Yet, it seemed on the matter of woes that Shyam Prasad had none, for he seemed to hide every emotion under the widest of smiles. He quickly struck up a bond with all the Tamilians, sharing their food during the lunch break. If one were to simply stare at Shyam Prasad, uninhibited by prejudice, context or perspective, the joyful face of Shyam while he wolfed down balls of rice, content to just listen to the stories of his peers, would paint a serene portrait of satisfaction.

Seemingly satisfied Shyam Prasad.

However, despite managing to carve a niche for himself amidst this throng of employees desperate to shine, our protagonist grew increasingly unsatisfied. As a millennial educated at a globally renowned university and handed opportunities without ever asking for them, he felt entitled to more. Bound by the shackles of unintentional privileges, he felt entitled to more responsibility, more respect and a heavier paycheck.

This false sense of entitlement instigated our protagonist to quit prematurely a job that thousands were vying to secure. In doing so, he spat in the face of all those who sat up all night acquainting themselves with the exemplary etiquettes of immaculate interviewees. A massive, arrogant spit in the face of those who count their savings each day, just so one day they could give their families the comforts that were ruthlessly denied to them.

On his last day, as he was working with Shyam Prasad, Shyam, unaware that this might be his last day of camaraderie with his new friend who had quickly become his support in this confusing, illegible world of corporate bureaucracy, launched into the story of his life.

Shyam Prasad's father had abandoned him when he was in the first grade. He had grown up watching his uncles waste their lives away, succumbed to the vices of alcohol and cigarettes. His mother had valiantly tried to give him a childhood that would remain irreparably torn apart. He was sharing a room with his cousin in Karama, surviving on a broken, run-down phone until he could save enough money to buy a laptop to Skype home. He ate from the plates of fellow Tamilians at work to save some money. His mother had taught him to be a 'decent man', and having grown up engulfed in the apparent weaknesses of men all his life, he vowed to be everything the men supposed to look after him weren't.

He was here in a foreign land, away from his mother. Away from the only person in his life who never gave up on him, never failed him. He was here desperately trying to make her proud by trying to be a 'decent man'.

Strong, heroic Shyam Prasad.

Shyam Prasad had a purpose because he had no options. While our protagonist here mindlessly chased one fancy car after another, Shyam Prasad stood still, fettered by the unrelenting chains of destiny. While our protagonist was a rebellious challenger of fate - happily waltzing to the strings of temptation, Shyam Prasad was a victim of fate.

These were the thoughts plaguing the mind of our protagonist, as he lumbered off into the sunset. The wailing voices had found intensity once again. He did his best to clear his mind, yet somehow he couldn't shake off the image of a lonely Shyam Prasad ticking off days on a paper calendar, counting down the days until he would have saved up enough money to bring his mother to meet him.

He couldn't shake it off, because he just knew that as he broke the news of his resignation to his colleagues today, the saddest and the only genuinely sad person in the crowd was alone, alienated Shyam Prasad. Our protagonist was, while a privileged millennial to boot, now the latest addition to the list of people who had deserted Shyam Prasad, given up on him and ultimately failed him.

This was the baggage that he now carried back - a load of unshakeable, irremovable guilt.

The unshakable, irremovable guilt of adding some sadness to the life of Shyam Prasad.

Based on a true story.


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