Some incidents leave an indelible mark on your memories. This is one of such incidents which happened a good 20 years back. Although I was only a bystander when I witnessed it, but still I remember the details as if I was playing an active part in it.
It was 1997, when I was at the crossroads of youth and childhood, then age when you are not old enough to be given independent responsibilities but neither are young enough to be entirely elive without them. The circumstances ensure, that I was getting some good training for interacting with the big, bad world, waiting for me out there and hence I was given the errand of getting my elder sister's B-school project approved from her project guide. Now the approving lady worked for one of the most corrupt business houses in Lucknow. Well, the organisation culture flows from top down and the project guide made no effort to cover her insecurity and rudeness by making us go through endless iterations on the pretext of improving the quality. It may take a complete page to describe the her vile behavior and how people with inferior credentials behave when they are entrusted with an iota of power. But, let's reserve it for some other day focus on the one, I have in my mind.
It was one of these routine visits, where I would go to the project guide with a printout of the Summer Training report and she would find some frivolous excuse to reject it. I was replaying the whole routine in my mind when walking close to the elevator door. The journey to the 7th floor from ground floor took around 30 seconds and I had the privileged company of 2 beetle leaf chewing office boys. Their heavy accent indicated that they were from Eastern Uttar Pradesh, which was recently hit by floods. I do not remember the exact words which were exchanged between them, but their conversation went something like this -
Ofc Boy 1 : So, your village has been hit by floods., eh ? There must've been a lot of destruction, right ?
Ofc Boy 2 : Yeah... yeah... All the crops are gone, the entire village is flooded and I don't even know how my family is doing or where are they right now. My parents and my wife are missing.
Ofc Boy 1 : You lucky bastard, you are already a rich man. You can always get another wife with that kind of money
Ofc Boy 2 : (Smiles and retorts)... Who stopped you from sending your family to your village ?
Although, my face did not betray any emotions at that moment. But, somehow this 30 seconds of unintended lessons in priorities of life has been permanently etched in my mind. I was flabbergasted by the apathy of Ofc Boy1, who was totally unmoved and rather happy that his family had been washed away in floods. It seems that the benefits of the compensation outweighed any emotional loss, which he would have endured.
Over the years, I have thought about this incident multiple times but never been able to fully analyse how could those those guys be so casual about their family and place money above everything else. Perhaps and fortunately so, I do not understand this and may never would want to, either.