Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The Story of a Torn Shirt...

On the morning of 8 June 2010, I got a call from the HR of HDFC Bank. He told me that I have been selected for the job I applied for. On being asked when I can start, I was excited to tell him today, this moment. To be honest, I was not prepared to join right then as I had come from my hometown to Bangalore for a couple of days just to while around some time. I had not carried any formal clothing with me. Yet, I wore a black shirt, which was supposed to be a party wear along with the best possible trouser for the occasion, a quadra clothing, as the others were jeans. Even more disgusting was the fact that I did not have shoes and thus, I wore a pair of sandals. In this shape, I presented myself before the HR at 11AM asking him to give me my offer letter. A pitch black shirt, a brownish trouser, a pair of haphazard sandals and a sky blue tie. Undoubtedly, he was shocked.

"What is this?", he asked.

"I know its not what you call formal wear. But then, honestly, I'm on a vacation right now and all my clothes are at my hometown", I said.

"Can't you buy a new pair? Do you think you can walk into a bank like this?", he seemed really angry now.

I stood silent.

"Before we discuss any further, I want you to dress up appropriately. I can't send you to meet your boss in this shape and take a stinker from him. Please come back when you are ready", he said and walked away.

Definitely, I was not so dumb that I would not have thought of buying a set of clothes on such an important day. But then, the truth was, I did not have any money to buy anything. I had been going through a tough time financially and there was no money in my bank account. I had also quit my job at ICICI Bank about 5 months back and whatever bit of savings I had was already exhausted. I was at the peak of helplessness. In fact, I had been living helplessly from a long time. Life had been pushing too hard on me and I had been trying to be even harder.

I was so broke that day that I just walked out of the premises of the bank with no hope. I had already been taking help from my friends and did not want to ask them again. There was a conflict in my mind. Those days were so hard. I feel a jerk in me as I remember them even today. From Richmond Road, I started walking towards the Richmond Circle. Hopelessly, I had to call a couple of my friends and request them to lend me some money. Two of them transferred Rs 500 each to my account and I was relieved. I went to a Big Bazaar nearby (Shantinagar bus depot) as they sell the cheapest clothing and shoes.

On searching all over the place, I found one shirt within my budget as well as meeting my requirements. A decent white shirt with very light blue lines that could be seen only when you come too close to it. The shirt had a tag of Rs 299 and Big Bazaar offered a discount of 33%, making it available for Rs 199 only. That was perhaps the shirt made for me. I picked it up and went to the billing counter. The very moment, I remembered that I am also required to buy a pair of shoes. I looked around and bought the cheapest possible black shoes. With a bill of Rs 498, I was ready to go. Though I wished to buy a trouser, I didn't dare to. I wanted to sneak in with whatever I had on me right then.

While I started walking towards Richmond road, I started thinking about what was happening with my life. I was so reckless in taking taking some decisions. Though I left ICICI Bank with big dreams and hopes to do something better, things did not happen. The last 4-5 months had been terrible and my dependency on others to live my life had shot up.

The shirt in discussion
With a decent face and a broad smile, I peeked in to the HR's cubicle and he was okay, if not happy, to see me. "Push up your tie and unroll your sleeves", he said. From school days, I have been habituated to wear a tie like a scarf and roll the sleeves in two folds. I followed his instruction and moved in to the room along with him. I collected the offer letter, put my signature, got more information about my job, my reporting authority, reporting location, etc. and thus, I was ready to go.

That was the day this shirt came in to my life and from then, every time I wear it, I am reminded of all these incidents. The mere look at the shirt would send shivers down my spine. Today, it mellows me down when I think of those times when I was literally cloth-less.

Today, on 8 April 2013, this shirt completes 34 months of living with me. Even today morning when I wore this shirt, I did remember the memories associated with this shirt. As a matter of coincidence, I wore the same quadra pant to work today. And then, the unfortunate thing happened.

I expressed my tiredness to myself by stretching my hands and moving them behind my head, lifting my body from the chair, performing some kind of a yoga. Then, I leaned forward to stretch in the opposite direction. TRRRKKK. I realized that it was the end of this beautiful cotton shirt that had been with me from such a long time. Fortunately or unfortunately, I had to spend one more hour in the office. I just remained stuck to my chair for the remaining hour.

Thank God, it was the shirt and it was on the back. I was not carrying a jacket. It would have been so helpful. Luckily, I was carrying a bag today. So, I just decided to remain stuck to my chair till everyone leaves and then, wear the bag and move on. I had to extend my time at work for no official reasons and finally, after everybody had left, I adjusted the bag to cover my back and left. I observed that the shirt was slit into two halves against my assumption of a small cut. It was saddening. Though I escaped unnoticed, there was nothing for me to be happy about. If not this shirt, may be, I could have felt like James Bond.

Memories make us attached to things. Losing such things almost risk the loss of memories. The kind of nostalgia I would experience each time I would wear this shirt would not be experienced ever again. 


  1. If its any consolation to you, I'd say that 24 Months is the average life cycle of a shirt purchased from a 'Big Bazaar' is 24 months. Its inspiring to hear you overcoming difficulties sir. It reminds us of the times we spent in Bangalore meandering aimlessly. Please keep us posted for we are always eager to read your experiences and cherish them.

    1. thanks Mickey, against the 24M, this one has been on me for 34M ;)

  2. Waw!Puneet the attention of yours to the details of every aspect of life is heart touching and also a lesson to learn from. Congratulate you for your efforts and the positive attitude which you carried all the way and sticking up on making efforts despite so many odds that you faced. Could feel the pinch of hard work you put in to raise from the difficulties you came across. Now, that can witness you as a much better person successful in career and life and still the most humble person.This is the beauty of YOU. Keep going. Keep writing. Trust me you inspire me and many others. All the best :-)