( A fictional diary which is a reality in bits n pieces )
I am Raman, and this is my story. I am writing this wearing my father's oversized shirt and his dhoti, which had been lying in my mother's sentimental iron suitcase for more than a decade.
I was born in this Koti village a long time ago. I was the only child to my parents, which gave me a better life than the other village kids. When I say a better life, I meant not going to sleep with an empty stomach and not wearing the same clothes for a week.
I also had the luxury of an uninterrupted education, whereas most of my friends at the village stopped their education after middle school since continuing anymore needs a two-hour journey every day to the city school.
I still remember my early days in this village where every place looked infinite and every little event a celebration. We were a gang of four people who were always on the run. The village temple and its nearby ponds still have our marks indented on them.
Out of all my friends, if I had to single out only one, then it must be Subbu, who thankfully lives this day to listen to my stories and adventures. Subbu was the fourth child of his parents who decided to call off their child making process after their ninth kid.
Subbu literally lived in my house. He wasn't liked that much by my parents, and yet they didn't bother much. Subbu discontinued his education after his 5th grade. His parents decided to buy him half a dozen goats and let him wander along with them for the rest of his life.
I was in touch with Subbu and my village till my 10th grade, after which my life took a turn. My city school principal found me intelligent among the lot and decided to recommend my name for the two-year intensive IIT coaching sponsorship along with the city lads.
During those two years, I could visit my village only a couple of times, and this witnessed the beginning of my long hostel life, which continued way beyond my comfort level.
I made it to IIT, although I could not get the course of my choice. I got mining which perhaps was much of a leftover, and yet I get to live in IIT and get a job that could be nothing related to mining. This is precisely what happened. I got a placement in an IT company based out of America.
Money was good, and for a kid from Koti village, this was unbelievable. Yet, I was changing according to the world around me. Few months into the job, I had made up my mind to continue higher education and become an investment banker. I was amazed by the immense possibilities this career can lead to.
I realized that given my capabilities, I might not end up in an ivy league institute and therefore, I grabbed the first opportunity offered by an average institute along with their 100 per cent scholarship.
There is nothing much to say about my college life in IIT's or during my MS days in America. You can easily relate to one of those average Indian students who live by the excitement of weekend parties and the monthly treks. The only exception was that I took to smoking a lot than most of my counterparts.
Even before I ended with my assistant job in an investment firm, I ended up getting the love of my life. During this course of the journey, I forgot that the villager inside me was done and dusted. I got married very soon after getting my job, and there was a brief trip to my village where I kind of told them that I am different now.
As per my parent's wish, there was another marriage ceremony in our village temple. I gave the temple trust a sum of twenty thousand, which remains a record to date. In fact, I found my name engraved in their entrance along with the other engravings I had done to it as a kid.
Life as an investment banker was never easy, and I was well warned ahead of my decision to become one. At the job, if I decide to give a break on Saturday, then I need not bother to return to work on Sunday. I worked day and night, gaining a lot of insights into how the capital market functions. As I began to learn the trick of the trade, I was missing out on the simple joys life had to offer with my wife and my newly born daughter.
I started to make a mark, and I was taken seriously. Today, when I realize what made me click that time was not necessarily my talent but my blunt dedication to staying beyond midnight every day of my career, the rest of my colleagues had a better plan with their family.
My bank balance was growing big, yet I constantly felt the urge to make it too big and not just big. If there was one time where I had clicked big time, then it was during the IT bubble burst of 2000. I was having this feeling that the market was overvalued, especially the It stocks. I took a short position, and thank God I did it. My life changed after it.
When the market crashed, it crashed the dreams of millions along with it. In contrast, I was beginning to see a bright future as my short positions started to deliver a fortune to my company, thereby making it declare its best-ever quarterly figures while most of its counterparts were beginning to declare bankruptcy.
This was the time I received a message from my home that my father had expired. I was in the middle of the action, and I decided to postpone my trip back home as there was nothing I could do now after his death.
I was offered the senior position of my company, and I started to handle all the major clients. With a big position came bigger paycheque and biggest responsibilities. I started driving around in the high-end Mercedes and could take time to witness the facial reaction of the passerby looking at my car. I used to do the same as a student, and yet I forgot to realize that I used to see the car and the driver behind the wheels. It was only an aspiration for luxury and not an acknowledgement to the driver who owns it.
My pay kept increasing more, and yet the revenue to the company wasn't proportionally increasing. I started putting in more hours at work, which, in turn, took up strain in my relationship with my wife. During one of my meeting with a senior colleague, I got insights into some of the company's functioning his brother was working for. I converted this news into a million-dollar profit. My clients got too happy with me and began gifting me things that even my big regular paycheque couldn't afford.
My work began to change, my research got too close into every company's functioning, and we started talking to their senior executives. Millions every week became the norm for our company until one day when everything came to a dead end. It was a Monday morning when I saw police officers at my office even before I could enter my cabin.
I got arrested by force in front of my colleagues for insider trading. I was given two years imprisonment. My wife left me, taking along the child and the property I had in her name. My properties were seized, and I wasn't left with much.
The two years of prison taught me a lot, and I could only wish that those prison days could have happened a lot earlier. The lessons I had learnt was a tad too late. However, I still managed to send some money to the village to take care of my mother. At home, nobody knew where I was and what I am undergoing. I never felt this alone in my life.
I realized my job had been making me so busy that it ended up sucking all the life out of it without my knowledge. What was the point of having so much money when you don't have anyone to spend with?
Out of jail, I continued to be in the media limelight for a while. This limelight continued to erode my leftover credibility and money. I started doing part-time jobs only to avoid going back to my village as a loser.
My smoking habit got the worse of me until one day; I ended up coughing blood. I sold my house to get on chemo and, in the end, was lucky somehow to be left with some money and health to head back home, My village.
Call it destiny or fate; I reached my village to be with my 90-year-old mother in her final days. She passed away yesterday, making this tiny house empty after a very long time.
Yesterday I met Subbu, who came to visit me for my mother's demise. He, too, is old now; however, it wasn't much visible by how he carried himself. He got bald and yet didn't get the belly indicating that wealth didn't catch up with him yet. The respect he gained from the people sitting around was indeed from the heart.
During the talk, I realized that he was still into goats and cows. His sons assist him in this business along with a tea stall he had opened recently in the village. Subbu, during the conversation, came near me and silently said, "If you need anything, tell me, Ram. Don't hesitate."
Tears rolled out of my eyes for the first time after a long time. I couldn't say anything to him, and what all I had suffering I have been subjected to. I stayed calm for a while, and before he was about to leave, I held his hands and asked him, "How could you be so satisfied in this little village Subbu?"
Smiling at my question, he answered without a pause, "Well, I have something which you might not have, Ram."
"What?" I asked, clearing my moist eyes.
"I have enough now and always had enough", He replied calmly and moved on, looking out for his goats.