Dedicated to JKR for her legendary Harry Potter series.
I crossed the first 3 rounds with ease. Not more than 9 candidates managed to reach the 4th round. It looked like even if they eliminate one person per round there will be none to attend the 13th round.
The day ended with a 4th programming round with the results being postponed to the next day. Shantanu kept calling me every half an hour that day. Finally, that night on his good night call, I made it clear to him.
“You are not calling me again until you are back in town. Keep all your concentration on your presentation. I swear I will not talk to you for the rest of our lives, if you ever attempted to know what’s going on here until you are back into campus.”
“But rather than speculating on your success I would feel more comfortable to know what’s going on.”
I knew he was right, but what if I were chucked out in one of those rounds. It’s better for him to speculate, than he really knowing that, I failed him. After all he had dreamt of this almost all through his life. I was unable to be the kind of girl friend, who would inspire and support him in getting his dreams to reality. I at least didn’t want to be the other kind.
As if reading my thoughts he concluded the conversation, “Whatever happens whether or not you continue to be a topper; get placed in Google you will always be the one person whom I love the most ever. I will put the best of my efforts to the work in hand. Love you.”
He hung up. I felt more nervous than strengthened at this response. I badly wanted to do it, to see the sweet smile on his face, which was warmer than a mother’s hug. I badly wanted to say about me getting placed in the company, which he admires the most. I was afraid of letting him down. I wondered whether I ever cared about anything in my life, like I did about that placement before, or ever will I do hereafter.
I doubted, whether Shantanu ever cared about promises. If only it were like an unbreakable vow*, he would have considered it with a tad of seriousness. But he still valued my words, and stopped calling me the next day; nevertheless I doubted that, he was really clueless of my progress, as the whole college kept a watch over the process.
I rarely had a doubt that, I would ever be put out in the 4th round as my programs worked pretty well, and I had completed it well before deadline. Next day morning the results were already on the notice board. Two of the nine were eliminated leaving behind a magical number* of us for the 5th.
As there were very little of us left, the proceedings sped up. I was wondering how did Shantanu do with his presentation, but I didn’t risk calling him. With this thought I walked into the interview room.
The two interviewers smiled at me warmly, and asked me to take my seat. They were unusually warm, which made the back flips in my stomach fiercer. There were initially a few normal questions natural of a technical interview. In quite a few minutes the questions started to go all creepy.
“I see you are doing your final year project on image processing. Well tell me-” He was looking for my name in the file, “-ah Elvia. How would you use Image processing to identify, particles in, say, a conveyor belt of milk packets.”
“I-I would-”, shuddering for words.
Other interviewer cut me short, “Tell me, how you would cut out a sphere out of this pen?” I was profusely sweating.
A couple more of such questions, and they didn’t make any sense to me. I was both confused and daunted. I felt like being attacked by a couple of dementors*, sitting less than a couple foots away from me, draining me of every last bit of hope.
Unpleasant thoughts of me standing in our department, looking at the notice board, which reassuringly told me, I had an arrear; me standing before the placement cell not being allowed to attend Microsoft; Shantanu telling me, he will not be contesting for Presidency; everything flashed in my mind. Worse it was, when I thought, I would face Shantanu, telling him I didn’t make it.
I took a leaf out of Rowling’s Harry Potter. ‘I now need a Patronus*’ I told myself. I concentrated on pleasant things like the time when Shantanu opened his heart to me, and the first Vodka adventure with my best buddies, and Shantanu’s voice consoling me that whatever happens he would always love me.
In a matter of milliseconds I was filled with enormous confidence. I started answering them. My answers were equally non-sense as the questions were. I didn’t shudder this time. I used terms and methodologies that God only knows exists.
I was enjoying profoundly, putting the shoe on the other foot. I enjoyed the site of them gaping like fishes at the terms I used. I mused, whether they were getting annoyed or impressed. I didn’t care. I kept telling myself, ‘I can’t let a couple of wankers stress me out.’
I walked out of the interview, with my nose high in the air, as I was still obsessed, not to show anyone I was weak.
“How did it go?”
“Huh cake walk.” I at least wanted to keep up the spirit till the results.
“You know what? Priya came out, almost filled with tears. Looks like, it’s a stress interview. Deepak’s face was drawn with horror.”
I know that too well, from those stupid questions. I reckoned I managed it pretty well, at least better than those two.
I was soon proved right. Further rounds were equally tough, and there were only 3 of us left for the 9th round, as Krishna was chucked out in the previous HR one, supposedly on grounds of attitude problems.
I was skeptically relived, when the HR person said, there would be only one more round left. I looked forward for that one round, waiting outside the placement cell as Thanu proceeded in leaving behind Guru and me.