Ravi loves to seek and write little-known inspiring stories from the past that can bring positive upheavals in today's world.
They say that kindness never goes out of fashion and examples of kindness,however small forever remain immortalized in time.
This is a first-hand personal account of my cousin who braved all odds to become a successful software programmer at a late age in life.And this became a reality due to the kind act of a stranger who chose to help her without expecting anything in return. The names have been changed to protect the identity.
A Dog-Eat-Dog World
It was a dog-eat-dog world and I was painfully aware of it as I chugged into the final round of the interview.
Just 3 hours ago, in that same interview room over 100 people were jousting, overperforming, and fighting tooth and nail for that one vacant programmer position. There were young boys and girls with dreams in their eyes, fires burning high in their bellies, and a ‘go-getter’ attitude fuelled by youth to succeed at any cost. Nobody was speaking to each other. Everybody was competing. Period.
And in this crowd of youth, I was an aberration at 45 years of age. They say, once you cross 45 years in the software world, you become deadwood. Nobody wants to give you anything new to work nor do you want to do something new at work.
And I had come because I had run out of options to survive. It was either do or doom for my family. I needed the job and I needed it badly for my family’s sake.
To Give You the Background……….
About 5 years back, I was a proud homemaker to a successful husband with a thriving business, and the mother of two lovely kids. Our life was simple, filled with happiness and my life is busy ensuring that the wheels of our little home run efficiently with well-oiled efficiency. I had no complaints, no regrets, and was content basking in the shadow of an immensely successful husband.
Then, one day all hell broke loose. My husband incurred a significant loss in his business; a loss he could never recover from. Our lifestyle went kaput and an uncertain future loomed ahead of us.
That was when I saw this advertisement for android training at an institute. I had no background in programming. In fact, I did not even know what android was, except that I had an android smartphone. I was afraid to consult anybody (yes, even my husband) for fear of being ridiculed. I just took the decision and signed up for the course.
However, life did not change. I failed in each of the 14 interviews I got. But I persisted, brushing my skills, plugging my gaps, and keeping myself motivated.
But in this 15th interview, I was at my wit’s end. Our financial situation was at its lowest nadir. My back was squashed deep against the unwavering wall and I needed to crack this interview come what may.
Then I Meet Pooja
And in my 15th interview, I found myself sitting in the same interview room with Pooja waiting for the final round to commence.
Yes, almost 100 candidates had been eliminated in the last 3 hours through a deadly concoction of written tests, coding tests, group interviews, and aptitude tests. The room that was packed to the brim with over 100 people just 3 hours back now had only two people; Pooja and me. And one of us would win the big prize today, the prized,high-paying programmer position.
The final round was to commence after lunch and since we had nothing else to do except wait for our fates to unfold, we started talking to each other about our lives, our struggles, and the passions that brought us here.
That said if there is one word to describe Pooja, it is ' brilliant'. She was a great programmer, a terrific communicator, and a master influencer. Throughout her academic years, she was a topper and had many awards under her belt, accentuating her stupendous achievements. She had a thriving family business to fall back upon and for her, programming was a passion that she walked, dreamed, and slept with every single day.
In a nutshell, I knew I have lost the battle even before it had begun. I knew deep within my heart that I could never compete against Pooja’s overwhelming brilliance and just resigned to my fate of yet another failed interview.
To My Surprise, I Get the Job
We were called and Pooja went before me.
But to my surprise, she came out in 15 minutes looking ‘dejected’. We exchanged looks but she said nothing as she moved out of the office in a huff. I barely had time to react when I was called in.
They offered me the job and my happiness knew no bounds. The faint light at the end of the tunnel had finally become warm, welcoming sunlight and I was basking with pride and relief as I saw the golden path of my future waiting and unfolding its successes before my eyes.
But as I exited the interview room, I heard one of the interviewers talking about Pooja.
“I don’t know what happened to that other girl Pooja. She was brilliant throughout and in the final round just flunked it out. I was surprised that she could not even answer a single question. weird isn’t it?”
That was when the realization struck me to the bones. Pooja ‘deliberately’ flunked the interview so that I can get the job.
She sacrificed her passion so that I can sustain my family. She never disclosed her intentions so that I would not feel guilty or protest, but it seemed that she had long decided it to be the ‘best thing’ to do.
Pooja is not only a brilliant programmer but also an extraordinary human being. You rarely find a combination of beauty, brains, and empathy in the programming world and Pooja is one of them.
They say, kindness never goes out of fashion and this is one example of a kind act I will always remember throughout my life.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Ravi Rajan