In August last year, my blog had the privilege of introducing Tanuja Chandra (TJ as I refer her usually), Director, TIME, Gurgaon. Though TJ and I haven’t communicated in person much, there is a beautiful relationship between us. Not many words and just a handful of public meetings. Yet there is some kind of an empathy we have for each other. To me she is a great source of inspiration and a woman of substance in all sense of the word. Today I have a guest post from her and reading it you’ll also realize why she inspires so many of us. Over to TJ.
11th April 2014, 2:30 pm
My phone rings. Though it’s not a saved number, I recognize it. It is from one of my students who had faced interviews for MBA selection just a month back. IIM-B results are out, he tells me. The first IIM to declare its results this year. He had made it to IIM-B’s PGP program! The phone rang a few more times before evening bringing similar news from some more students. I feel happy and very contended. I have made a difference to a few more lives. Touched few more lives.
This time of the year, for the last 12 years has been time of reward. Reward because some students from the institute have made it to the top B-Schools of the country. Reward because I did not make a mistake in leaving my blooming career with the corporate world to start a coaching institute. But unlike all these years, this year was different. This batch of students would remain special, for ever, just like the first batch.
Two days before the CAT results were declared, mom fell ill critically. This was mid January, she had been in and out of hospital for the last two months already. But now things had taken a bad turn. Something inside told me these were her last days. She was in the best hospital, Medanta, under the care of the best doctors. She was also given lot of special privileges like home food, her own maid from home etc. We were allowed to meet her beyond visiting hours. But all that did not help in her recovery. Her physical condition deteriorated continuously, and she was loosing the mental battle too. Between me and my sister, we spent as much time with her as we could. There were some days when sister had to travel and I was left alone with her. My heart sank every time the monitor showed —— respiration, every time the phone rang when I was not by her side, every time I saw the hopeless expression on the face of the doctor and every time mom looked at me, asking me to take her back home. I died many times…
Results had started to pour in. Students had done well. There were more than 150 students with IIM calls. I had trained students at this stage myself, all these years. I did not want it to be different this time. I had to take classes for them, take their mock interviews, read and improve upon their essays/SoP and provide them all the moral support that the students required. Only difference, this year I was fighting a battle within me. For the first time in 12 years I kept my phone alive during classes.
I used mobile technology to the fullest – reading all the essays/SoP on my phone. In most of the cases, feedback was sent by the same media. Some exceptions where I felt necessary I met the students and discussed their write-ups.
My days were full of uncertainty. I completed my morning chores quickly and headed to meet mom. If things were under control I would go to institute and complete as much work as I could before moving out. I would try to meet mom again for lunch as she had become a fussy eater these days and only sister and I could manage to feed her. One day when I reached hospital in the morning, I saw additional doctors and nurses in the room. I was told that they could no longer find a nerve in her arms to insert the cannula and now had to put one in her neck. I held her face to the other side, while the doctors worked and she screamed to let her be. As the instrument pierced through her neck, a fountain of blood oozed out. I closed my eyes and turned my face, just stopping myself from fainting. Her helpless looks were the most killing. I spent considerable time with her that day, comforting her. I had to meet some students later in the day, and left her with a heavy heart.
Her condition did not improve and she was once again shifted to ICU. My work at centre increased, demanding more of my time. I don’t know how I survived those days. One of those days, when I reached the institute, I met a disappointed student who was giving up even before putting up a fight. I showed him a picture of mom I had taken that morning. She had twomasks on her face. One for oxygen and the other to pull out CO2 as her heart was not strong enough to do basic breathing too. I asked him if he was more helpless than he…(this boy has made it to IIM-K).
There were several days when I did not reach the institute. My laptop and other stuff just remained inside the car while I was with mom or doctors. But I met every student who needed me. My team worked extremely efficiently during this phase utilizing my time most effectively. Like all the years, I took interviews of most of the students. Guided the ones who asked for it and also the ones I felt needed it.
On 11th March, Mom put the split between her and work to an end. In the morning that day at Vrindavan, in complete tranquility and her daughters by her side, she moved on to the other world. Sun had just risen and was visible from the large window of her room, we were by her side, holding her hand but of course we could not hold her back!
And now when the top B-Schools are coming out with their final selections, I am happy to see many of these names there. I know the effort I put in was not half-hearted. I know that it has not gone in vain. I know I have touched more lives and together we succeeded and we will succeed…
TJ lost her mom in March this year. But I’m sure she has her blessings and sitting up somewhere there in the skies above, her mother will be feeling proud of her daughter’s achievements.