The shrill tone of the alarm dragged Harish from under his blankets and his dreams, into the cold consciousness of reality. And while still trying to find equilibrium between the real and the surreal, he remembered that it was the day of his interview!
The previous night had been hectic to say the least. Software companies these days, hire people by the dozens and most of them middle class undergraduate students who flock to these companies with dreams of making it big one day. Harish too got an opportunity to try his luck with this company and it can be said, he tried his best. But somehow by the time he returned home after the aptitude test, he felt he had missed the bus this time. And so, it was a pleasant surprise when Mr. Roy, the paan chewing, attitude throwing placement officer of his college, called to say that he had indeed cleared his test and had to have an interview the following morning.
Nine o’clock found Harish sitting on a plastic chair, his face white and hands sweating, in front of the room where his fate was to be decided that day. He looked at the people around him. While some seemed confident of facing the interviews, most of them were of the state as him. This ironically was comforting to Harish. He looked at his friend, Vivek, who gave him a comforting “don’t worry” type of smile. Harish smiled back weakly. He had hardly recovered from this state when his name was called; it was time to face the trial by fire.
An interview is never the straightforward affair it is supposed to be. Like say, if it’s a technical one, you might expect a question like “Draw a graph showing the relation between current and voltage in a diode..”, but you will most likely be asked “Can you draw the graph showing the relation between current and voltage in a diode?” To this, the most appropriate answer will probably be “Yes I can”. Harish‘s interview lasted for about twenty minutes, but quite naturally, to him it seemed a lifetime. And he came out of the room, trying to make up his mind about how he had faced his interrogator. One moment he felt that he had flopped the whole thing and the next moment he was sure he had given his best shot. Finding nothing more to do there, Harish and Vivek, whose own interview had proceeded more or less along similar lines, decided to take a break and came out of the building. They sat in a tea stall, Harish still pondering over his performance, with a dirty looking glass of piping hot tea, when his friend, who was smoking a cigarette, said “We could not have done better” and then added prophetically, “we are not going to make it.” This obviously didn’t make Harish’s condition any better.
This was by no means the end of their trials. Another round of interviews had yet to be done, and the seemingly endless wait to know if they had crossed the first hurdle, made them anxious and uneasy. Harish tried to shift through the study materials he had brought along but the strain of the endless wait was too much and he soon gave up. After what seemed to be an eternity, came the news about the selected candidates. Harish’s heart was literally leaping out of his body, when he heard his name being called. His joy was complete with the news that his friend too had been selected.
Then there was the wait for the final round. Even as the day gave way to afternoon and afternoon to evening, it didn’t seem to end. With his mind heavy and stomach empty, Harish waited. A girl came out of the room, agitated. By the time she had crossed the corridor, she had started crying herself hoarse, to the consternation of all present there. Just then (call it luck or whatever) the interviewer happened to come outside, and finding the girl weeping (much to his alarm), decided to have a retake. The whole incident lasted only a few moments but left everyone dazed. Harish went back to waiting out his turn and as darkness approached, found himself among very few candidates left waiting; and thus was immensely relived when at last his name was called. What transpired at the interview is better left alone but it must have been a pleasant affair because Harish came out looking quite satisfied.
It was raining slightly and night was approaching rapidly when Harish called it a day and went home.
The wave of expectations that were building up inside Harish was waiting to break. They would either lift him into heights of ecstasy or plunge him into depths of misery. Harish maintained a diplomatic stance throughout as all and sundry enquired about his interview but secretly, hoped for the best.
Nothing happened. No wave of ecstasy or misery broke upon him. News reached him from somewhere about other candidates who had received calls. Harish and his friend, made frantic calls to all those who could help. “If not an acceptance letter, then may be give us a rejection letter!” This enigmatic silence was really unbearable. They checked their mailboxes thoroughly and even tried in vain to contact their interviewers, but to no avail. The search was abandoned after a few days and they resigned themselves to their fate. But the whole episode, like an anticlimax after a fantastic movie, left Harish high and dry.
Life returned to the humdrum existence again.
NB: Remember the girl who wept? Well she got the job. Last heard, Harish was trying to learn “How to weep at an interview”.
(Based on a true story :))