As she walks up to the coffee machine, the doctor's words echo in her mind “Restrict your caffeine”. She opts for tea and fills only half a mug. As she stands pinning the project report on the soft board in her cubicle, her eyes fall on her certificate “Most Promising Manager of the Year”. She smiles and sits down. Sipping her tea, she is lost in old memories. Winning prizes was a routine for her. School topper, college topper and a fast tracker at work, she was a complete careerist now. “Success of this project is critical for your promotion”, she remembers her boss's words clearly. She opens the strategy document and tries to concentrate. She closes her eyes to think clearly. Suddenly she feels a movement inside her body. Another one. “Was it a kick” she thinks “Yes, the doctor said it was expected anytime”
7 PM. She sits helping the engineers in debugging issues. 8 PM. She is having a working dinner in a meeting. 9 PM her husband arrives and forces her to wind up.
“Take it easy sweetheart, our life is going to change in two months”
“I can't afford to, honey. You know I am very close. Just six weeks. And then...”
“I will be the Group Head. 50 engineers reporting to me. You know, I am going to get the corner office, with a window facing the lawns”
“What about the baby?”
“You don't worry about that. Mom is moving in with us”
“What about you, won't you spend time with the baby?”
“O, come on. I am not the diaper changing types. I will play with him alright, that too when he grows up to at least speak and call me Mamma. You know, I am not a home body. I am afraid I will go crazy in the maternity leave. Don't like to miss office a single day”.
Like a complete workaholic, she continues with her long hours at work. There are problems. There are hurdles. There are software bugs and hardware failures. There are customer demands and team's expectations. She handles it all.
“Slow down now. If your blood pressure shoots up, I will have to advise bed-rest” the doctor tells her in the regular check-up.
“I need this adrenaline, this rush, to keep me going. I can never slow down” she replies with a smile.
And finally, the project gets delivered on time. The promotion letter follows.
“Yes, I am getting the corner office from tomorrow” she screams with excitement over phone“Coming home early”.
As she enters home, within minutes, her labor pain starts. In the hospital, she tries to manage her pain by doing breathing exercises. “The head is crowned”, the doctor announces “you are doing well”. She closes her eyes. “Yes, push now with all your strength! One last time! Doing well, dear!”. She pushes with all her might and the baby is out. She feels amazed. She feels like she had never felt before. She had delivered many projects as a manager, but nothing like this one. A small creation from her own flesh, her own blood. She holds her carefully in her arms. She touched her fingers and her toes. She presses her cheeks against her's. She nurses her. She kisses her. When she looks at her, she forgets to blink.
Three months later. “The books said, they do not speak for months. But the baby speaks to me, all the time. She speaks through her eyes, through her little movements and of course through her loud cries” She lay awake on the bed pondering. Days pass. She nurses her. She changes diapers. She bathes her. She massages her. And she sings lullabies.
Her mother moves in. The maternity leave ends. She joins back at work. As she arrives in her corner office, she feels strange. She had waited for this day for years. She looks at all the congratulatory mails in her computer. Her boss and team come to congratulate her on her successful project, her promotion and of course her corner office. As everyone leaves her office, she sits on her chair and stares at the monitor. She does not feel like having lunch. Hearing a sound of a bird, she stands up and opens the window. Her eyes fall on a nest in a the tree outside her office. A couple of baby mynah sit there making that sound. Mama mynah arrives flying with food in her beak and begins feeding the babies. She smiles and takes a long deep breath. She sits down to type her resignation letter.
As she reaches home, she holds the baby in her arms again. She had missed her terribly. She is happy again, but with a difference. She does not need the adrenaline to keep going. She is at peace with her baby. She is at peace with herself.
“You don't have to sacrifice your career for your baby” her mother says “I will take care of her”
“I am not sacrificing anything. I am doing this for myself” she replies.
“Hormones at work!” her mother says “you will get to your normal form in six months”.
Three years later.
She enters the same office with her three year old. She tells her to sit at the sofa in the reception area and wait for her. She looks at the sign pointing to the right saying 'Engineering'. She stands there for a moment and smiles. Then she turns left following the sign saying 'Administration'. As she enters the office of the Head, Administration, she is greeted with a “Terrific work!You are a wonderful painter”. The meeting is fruitful. She gets a commission for a batch of paintings for the new office branch.
Together they walk out of the office and move towards the parking. She stops for a moment and peeps in the corner office through the glass window. A big painting of a blooming lotus is adorning the room. Her eyes do not miss looking at her tiny signature on that painting.