When Pankaj had called me over the weekend to know if I would like to take the opportunity in being a Manager in Venture capital and growth equity I almost dropped my cell phone. Seven years as a financial, and a senior financial analyst in Goldman Sachs and suddenly my career seemed to have stymied. There were new faces; young, beautiful faces, the gals who meticulously paraded their Louis Vuittons and guys neatly dressed in slim fit shirts and wool ties. Some of them came from Wellesley, some from UPenn, and I couldn’t hold a candle to them with my Rutgers’ degree. I was 34, single, childless and brown. I had little friends, all losers like me, but somehow they found their significant others when I was still struggling to land a conversation with a man. I ran every morning, juiced every week, drank every Friday night and thought of having sex every time I hit the bed.
Since my mother’s demise last year, I have been on antidepressant, although running has helped. I had been a good daughter, too good in fact. I never dated when I was at Rutgers, always carried a figurine of Ganesh in my handbag and didn’t know the taste of rum until I was 29 - things my mom said good girls always do. I had tossed the figurine in Phewa lake after my mom’s funeral and flew back to New York two days later. I do not speak to my father, he still gets drunk every night and I wonder if he is still sleeping with that Thakali store owner in Chipledhunga. I was the only daughter, I was forever alone, the only friend I had was my mother, who, despite my numerous pleas wouldn’t want to come and live with me in New York.
So after Pankaj hung up, I lied down for a while and thought if a promotion would help revitalize myself and salvage my fragmented hope of having a successful career. Maybe I could find a good man, maybe I will buy that apartment in Brooklyn, maybe I will have kids, maybe I will visit Santorini again and sleep naked in the terrace under the moonlight.
I met Deepa that evening, and we sat down in this dimly lit bar in Soho drinking Appletinis and dodging curious glances. I told her that I had been offered a promotion.
“That’s great news, see, I always knew you had it in you, just because your coworkers are younger and came from good schools doesn’t mean your efforts went unnoticed” Deepa grinned.
Deepa had always been nice to me, we never argued, and at times I wonder she pitied me. And now, speaking of pity, I wonder if Pankaj did it too. He had been a good friend, we had joined the company almost at the same time. But how he was a senior director and I was still an analyst. At one point, I thought he liked me, especially that night when he was staring at my cleavage during our company’s dinner at Nobu. I was wondering if he would ask me out for a drink, but it never happened. Instead he got married to this Gujrati girl from Jersey City. I was so disgusted with myself I ended up calling this guy in a drunken stupor and slept with him.
“Close the door” Pankaj gestured as I stepped into his office before I left work. He was going through my resume I had sent him yesterday. His office is nice, it overlooks the beautiful landscape of whatever New York city has to offer, it isn’t lavish, but it is clean and elegant, unlike my cubicle which needs a major facelift.
“I have spoken to Melissa and George and forwarded them the resume, they think you will be a good fit, they will interview you in presence of the HR manager this Friday.”
“Thanks Pankaj, your call caught me by surprise, I am delighted you guys thought of me.” I spoke nervously. Ever since Pankaj got married I have avoided speaking to him.
An awkward minute of silence passed by as he continued reading my resume and I picked on my ingrown thumbnail. And when I lifted my head to look at him I was timidly surprised to find him staring at me. Our eyes met for a second and I looked away.
“I must go, I will see you later” I spoke nervously and scurried towards the door.
“Megha….” His baritone voice boomed across the room. And as I turned around, I saw him leaping towards me at a feral pace.
Moments later when I left work, I took a train straight to Times Square and entered Sephora. For a woman who thinks twice before spending a hundred dollar on a pair of shoes, that evening I spent almost four times the price in purchasing makeups. As the cashier briefly wondered if someone was kind enough to shoot me for Vogue when she was checking me out, I was smiling at the corner of my lips.
I walked out of the store as a winner, I had mastered the skill to survive. I could be like any other woman who would frantically keep herself at pace with the men. And I was no longer the clumsy and nervous Megha world had always viewed me as.
It is a different story though, that my breasts were still hurting.