Sunday, March 15, 2015

But, Everybody Only Asked My Name......

An NIIT center in the 80s, was a beehive of frantic activity. Young people manning the reception, would be counselling potential students who were just a few months or a few years younger. Potential students would be scattered on sofas and chairs, completing forms or taking aptitude tests. Employees would be in and out of the reception / front office area, coming and going from customer visits, or classes. So there was never really a quiet moment in the building from 6:30 am (first class start) to 9:30 pm (last class end)

On one June afternoon, in the blistering heat of summer, Anna arrived at our Safdarjung Enclave center and asked to meet me i.e. "Sangeeta Murthi".  The four members of the front office team were so busy that they called out for help from Piyush. 

Anna was perplexed with this turn of events. He had worked for the government from the start of his career.  In offices where guests walked into a reception, and asked to meet someone.  They then filled a register with personal details, and were given a pass.  Then they were escorted by a peon to the relevant room.  But here, he was confronted with what looked like chaos. 

Piyush, asked Anna his name and whom he wanted to meet. Anna said, "I am Mr. Murthi. I want to meet Sangeeta Murthi".

Piyush then sent an office-boy up the stairs to the third floor, to look for me.  In those days there were no intercoms.  

I was facilitating a class at that time, so the office boy stuck his head into the room and told me, "Mr Murthi is here to see you." 

I said, "Ask him to wait” and went back to the exciting world of COBOL (actually, I hope it 
was the session on "Using Tables / Arrays in COBOL", my favorite!)

Anna waited patiently for sometime, and then re-started the cycle by asking again to meet me. The counsellors called out to Piyush, and Piyush to Mahesh. Up the stairs went Mahesh, only to return with the "Ask him to wait" message.  I must have been teaching "Using Tables / Arrays in COBOL"!!!

It seems that this sequence was carried out a couple of more times, till Piyush, who withered under the piercing eyes of the counselors and a slowly-getting-impatient Anna, ran up three flights of stairs and insisted that I come down to the reception.

As we decended the stairs I asked Piyush, "Who Mr, Murthi?"; "What does he want"; "What is his full name?" 

"How should I know" retorted Piyush, who obviously had no idea who this man was and why he was here.  Piyush was just doing a good deed for our over-worked counselors!

As soon we reached ground floor, I peeped into the reception to see Anna.  "Oh My GOD”, I said to Piyush, "He is my father!!!!"

When I asked Anna why he did not tell people that he was my father, he looked at the people milling around and said quietly “But everybody only asked my name..”

-- Story as told by Piyush Srivastava, with a pinch of artistic license by me

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