FLASHBACK SCENE – 1
In all my working years, even a fractured leg couldn’t keep me away from work for more than 5 weeks. And while I cracked my leg in a car accident (office car, mind you), I thought it was all my fault! The channel had just launched and I was barely a year old in my journey of ‘career building’. So naturally I was missing out on a lot of action and this crash seemed like a major road block. I was grouchy, irritated and impatient. While my then exec producer kept a tab on my broken bone, she asked me politely if I could return soon after the plaster came off. Thanks to the crash (yes, let’s call it that even though it wasn’t a big one) my immediate boss was also left with a bumped forehead and was forced to be out of action! Two down in a team of five…the early weeks of on-air programming, the situation was pretty bleak. I limped back to work and told myself that a broken leg is no excuse to go slow in my career.
FLASHBACK SCENE – 2
Years later, I got married I told my boss that I want a month and a half leave. And I got it. I had recently graduated to being a team leader, the general elections were near and I was again politely asked about my joining date. My honeymoon was just a 3-day affair in Goa. I clicked nearly 600 pictures of us in those 3 days and got ourselves horribly tanned, perhaps to make it look like we spent a week away from work! I joined, and less than a week later I was thrown into the exciting world of political documentaries.
FLASHBACK SCENE – 3
A little before that, about three years ago, around this time my team leader quit. She decided to tell me the day she put in her papers. I remember I was driving to work and while I was snaking my way around the India Gate circle, she called to give me the news! It was August 11th, 2008. To know that my protective shield had decided to detach herself from me, the news suddenly made the gaps between the cars really close. Fearing a bang somewhere, I told her I have to hang up! I was 3 years old in the organisation then, and as she left me to fend for myself, the one voice that I heard from within is “You are ready”. I didn’t believe it, ‘how could I be ready?’…but as the months rolled by, I realized how wrong I was!
There’s a reason why I take you back to these events in my life. And there is a reason why this post is titled such…
Three years later, as a new August begins I am taking a sabbatical. The longest that I have taken in my life so far. The most ‘turning’ event of my life awaits. I am excited. I am nervous. I am a bundle of contradictions today.
There are a lot of things that I gave up for the sake of my job. Time being the most precious. While I ate, slept, dreamed about my work…there were so many other things that I lived without. I lost some of my friends, because I didn’t have the time to meet them. I lost a lot of time with my family, because there was always a deadline. I lost time with my husband, because I was required to travel out of town for an assignment. While television demands a certain lifestyle, I am not sure I picked the right mode. While I pushed myself ahead, I also consoled myself. And while I was happy with the work that came my way, I cribbed about my after life. Once home, I would be tired, grouchy, and have a persistent worry about the project at hand. I complained about the money I got…but said I would never stoop low enough to ask for a particular designation or salary. I was happy to lead a team, and do some intelligent programming, while some of my team members earned more than me! I cared about the money, but to the world, I said I don’t! I survived 6 years in a channel where not many people share the same mantle. I have been obsessive, and people who know me will vouch for this. I have obsessed about every show that I have produced. I have obsessed about the script, the edit, the on-air product. News. Features. Whatever be the format, I have given my work everything that I have. To let it all go, and suddenly take a break from it all is a little weird. Until a week back, I was waiting for day. Today when it is here, I don’t know how to react.
The baby is a speed breaker. And while it has already changed so many things about me, I know it will have an impact on my career. I will describe myself as ambitious. Fierce, go -getter. Nothing changes that of course. But yes, some nuts and bolts have to be loosened and tightened. I need a job, I need a salary…but I also desperately need a life! To slow down is a happy feeling, but to not know how far your life will change is a little scary. So in the mean time, I shift into ‘neutral’ and when the time is right, push the gear to ‘first’.
I have a huge team, 8 members, much much larger than the one I had inherited. So while the ‘Kingdom’ has grown, the separation pang of letting the team rule itself in my absence is quite another feeling! I know some of them feel exactly the way I did 3 years back…but really, a maternity leave and in my case will never be a ‘leave-leave’! Even this time, my boss has politely asked me if I’d be looking at scripts and taking important decisions. Of course, I will…but nearly 3000 kms away, this mother of my brood will have a worrisome time! But like they say, nothing stops because of one person…the team that will learn to drive on by themselves…and perhaps, who know, when I return I may be left redundant.