On the way back, he replayed the conversation in his mind. He remembered every pencil fumble. Memory was the least of his problems.
“Ah yes. Come in. Come in. How are you?”
“Good. I hardly see you now days.”
He smiled, but kept silent. He generally preferred to remain that way until someone asked him a question.
“I wanted to speak to you for some time now…” the boss continued “…but something or the other kept coming in the way. You know how it is here…”
“Yes sir” he said. He did know how it was there, in fact, and it affected him a lot more than people realised. He wondered what was making the man who had single-handedly founded the office they all worked in some thirty years ago so nervous.
“So anyway…here we are now…”
“You joined two years ago, isn't it?”
“Two and a half sir”
“Right. Right. So, how are you finding things now days?”
“Good Sir, fine. Lots of business coming in…” he started, but saw the silver-streaked head before him shaking and stopped.
“Not like that. I meant how are things with you today, after this much time with the company”
He knew what to say. Anyone who had done an MBA knew what to say. “I feel much more involved today sir. I think I’m beginning to understand my job and my role in the organization a lot better now”
The Living Legend tapped his pencil and looked worried. “That’s good. Though to be honest I was expecting you to say something else …if you do have any problems you can tell me, you know…”
“What sort of problems?”
“Anything. We are completely open door. If there’s anything about your work that’s troubling you…or the office…”
“I love my work here”
“Are you sure? Don’t you find it difficult to have to talk to so many new people? Every day. With your condition…”
Sometimes he remained silent even when someone had asked him a question. This was one of those moments.
“Its nothing to be ashamed of…”
He knew that. Sort of.
After a long uncomfortable silence, the boss asked him a series of questions. Had he thought about his future? Was he interested in pursuing other lines of work (because they could help him, get him started off, put him in touch with the right people)? Did he see himself doing this job in five years? Did he sometimes feel his talents lay elsewhere (not that he was not good at this, he was, but its all about human potential, isn’t it)?
'The eloquent young pilgrims pass, and leave behind their trail, imploring us not to fail'
He finally understood. He thought of asking if his Team Leader had complained. But he knew she wouldn’t have. She didn’t mind him. Neither did the others, though he knew he made them uncomfortable. He remembered his first week. So many people had come up and asked him if he was always this silent that he decided that would be his identity from then on.
Every office has a quiet guy.