Saturday, February 3, 2024


It was “Open Interview Week” and the university campus was filled with excitement as industry leaders sought outstanding talent with promising offers. Though the final exams were two months away, clearing them was deemed a mere formality for this prestigious institution attracted the brightest minds.

Anand Raj exuded confidence that he would secure a significant opportunity. Armed with an engineering degree and two years of work experience in a major Indian industrial conglomerate, he believed an MBA would provide him with a comprehensive view of company operations.

A week earlier, as upcoming interviews and group discussions loomed ahead, the students busily prepared with guidance from the university's placement cell. Upgrading wardrobes became a priority, considering their casual attire over the past sixteen months.

As anticipated, Anand aced the interviews with the two companies of his choice among the seven visiting the  university. One of the companies was a snack and beverage MNC whilst the other was a consulting and transaction services firm. Both were impressed, offering him lucrative positions with substantial pay and jaw-dropping joining bonuses. Anand preferred the consulting and transaction services firm, envisioning it as a stepping stone to understanding diverse businesses for his future venture.

After informing the HR manager of his decision, Anand was surprised to learn about a final interview with senior management before formal induction. He had assumed the selection process was complete, but the HR manager assured him it was a mere formality.

Anand excelled in his final semester and, after a brief farewell getaway with classmates, returned home to prepare for the last interview. Confident of leaving a lasting impression, he entered the President's cabin with self-assurance. The President, accompanied by the HR Head, the head of the department he was to join, and a lady in charge of the Corporate Social Responsibility, conducted the interview.

The interview proceeded as anticipated, with the department head seeking Anand's insights on his team’s current project. The President maintained a more relaxed tone during their interaction. However, it was during the HR Head's inquiry into Anand's family background that he opened up about the challenges he faced in his formative years.

Anand shared the poignant story of losing his father at the tender age of three, leaving his mother, with their limited savings, to take up employment. Despite exhaustion from her work, she tirelessly managed all household responsibilities to ensure Anand's education remained unaffected. Additionally, she often took on extra assignments to supplement her income, covering the rising costs of Anand's tuition and extracurricular activities. Hoping to convey his determination to overcome adversity, Anand provided this detailed response, with the President's expression seemingly reflecting an understanding of his resilience.

As Anand perceived it, the interview concluded when the President, turning his gaze towards the others, silently inquired if anyone had additional remarks. At that moment, the lady, who had quietly observed the proceedings, posed an unexpected question: "Throughout all those years when your mother laboured tirelessly every day to ensure you lacked nothing in your upbringing, did you regularly assist her with the daily household chores?" Anand felt a sudden jolt as her inquiry hit him like a surprise revelation sending a hushed stillness through the room.

Initially, he stared at the lady, his gaze eventually shifting to a distant, contemplative look. A stiffness set in, and his demeanour underwent a noticeable change. Words eluded him as he sat in silence, flooded with memories of his mother's tireless efforts. The late-night work, early morning preparations of proper meals, bedtime stories, and assistance with homework flashed before him. His mother never flinched when he requested new clothes or obliged without hesitation to fund school trips. It dawned on him that he rarely witnessed his mother buying a new dress or socializing with friends. The only times she indulged in movies were at his insistence.

Overwhelmed with guilt, Anand, who had planned to accept the job, stood up, expressing his gratitude but requesting time for reflection. He needed a few days before giving his final response, as he felt compelled to return home and be with his mother.

As he prepared to leave, the President understanding Anand's predicament, expressed that they would be happy to have him on board whilst acknowledging his need to be with his mother for the time being.


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