CAPACITY BUILDING | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 04, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:47 PM, January 05, 2019

FICTION

CAPACITY BUILDING

I've been working at the Capacity Building for 10 years. I'd like to say that nothing surprises me anymore but then again, I live in Bangladesh.

My boss and I joined the office at the same time and on our first day, he called three general meetings. Selling insurance isn't an easy task; you have to call people and ask them to prepare for their deaths in the most roundabout manner. This was the second meeting of the day:

Our boss, Tarun Nayan Khan, was rubbing his hands in anticipation when we entered the conference room.

"We are going to digitise the entire office! The first thing I will ensure for all of you will be free Wi-Fi!"

We were all, of course, extremely happy to get free internet back in 2009. All three of us with smartphones in a room of about sixty people.

We all clapped, nodded, said our thanks and went back to our desks. An hour later, we were called back into the conference room yet again.

"Glad to have such a dynamic team that can respond so quickly to summons," said Tarun jubilantly.

"There is a slight hitch with the budgeting for the free Wi-Fi thing. But I fought really hard with the CFO to ensure that it gets to happen. This is going to happen!"

Bablu from accounts scratched his belly and looked at the wall clock. 2:01 pm.

"Sir, lunch?" he asked with a yawn.

"Oh, thank you, Bablu. That reminds me, due to budgeting issues there will be no more lunch for you guys. We have replaced it with coffee which has the added effect of increased productivity."

We all thought it was a practical joke and stared at him.

"Sir?" asked Rupai from HR.

"Yes, Rupai?"

"Sir, I think we should rather have lunch than free Wi-Fi."

Everyone in the room started nodding in agreement to this. Tarun sir scratched his chin.

"Okay, I see what's happening."

He emptied out a tissue box.

"Write lunch or Wi-Fi on a piece of tissue, fold it and drop it in this box. Let's convene after lunch and decide."

***

At 3:05 pm, we were all sitting in the conference room yet again, waiting for Tarun sir to finish counting the votes.

He entered a few minutes later, tissue box in hand.

"Done! Are you all ready for the results?" said Tarun, his eyes beaming.

"It's 80 people for free Wi-Fi and four people for free lunch! I knew you guys would change your mind."

Yes, Bablu bhai sure as hell needs free Wi-Fi on his Nokia 1100.

"Sir, please," Rupai interjected again.

"Yes, Rupai?"

"Sir, there are only 68 people working in this office. I..." she paused and bit her lips, "I think there is a mistake."

"Miss Rupai, please come to my office. And all of you stay here."

Half an hour later, Tarun sir showed up without Rupai this time.

He stood at the head of the table, his voice calm.

"Whose idea was this?"

He looked around at all of us. No one volunteered.

"ALL OF YOU WAIT OUTSIDE MY OFFICE. WE ARE NOT LEAVING THIS OFFICE UNTIL I KNOW WHO IS ORGANISING YOU GUYS AGAINST THE GOOD OF THE COMPANY."

We left work at 10 pm that night and never saw Rupai again.

***

It's been ten years for me in this company. Anyone with any sense left in them left for the big multinationals and went abroad. I decided to stay because it's easier to get promoted with people constantly leaving.

There was a tap on my cubicle wall. It was Tarun sir.

"I saw that you're planning a vacation with your wife on Facebook. I suggest that you don't do it next month, I have plans for you."

Oh, yeah. He made us all surrender our Facebook passwords to the company earlier this year to optimise workflow and pre-emptively stop potential sexual harassment situation. I mean, it is for our own good, right? Plus the pay isn't too bad now either. We reported 23 percent growth last quarter!

We're also not allowed to use the eggplant emoji any longer.

 

Rumman R Kalam is the In-charge of SHOUT, The Daily Star. Reach out to him at rumman@rantages.com

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