House.

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house

Write Tonight.

The warmth in the lounge normalised my bones stiffened from the sudden chill outside. The event space in the hotel was populated with accomplished and budding writers, publishers, editors, script writers, and historians. The ambience of the literature festival, aroma of various cuisines and the soft music transported me into liberal fantasy. My reincarnated feelings and her curiosity enveloped the atmosphere. I was meeting her after a long time. As we sat together, amber lights shone onto her and reflected far and wide magnifying her presence. She hadn’t changed one bit.

‘You are my first love. The one I ever yearned for desperately, from the bottom of my soul.’ I said to her, regret in my stomach.

‘That’s quite an expression.’, she giggled.

‘This is where we first met. It was my Uni’s art festival. It was love at first sight for me.’

‘Or rather an impulsive consent?’

‘Whatever you may call it. It felt like a thousand lamps lit inside. There was something very intoxicating about you. You possessed me from all directions. It showed in the poetry and essays I wrote for the University magazine. I didn’t care about my grades nor what the world had to say. I dedicated my days and nights to you. I loved every moment I sang and danced with you. Under the tree, near the sea. We weaved magic together.’

‘I too found a home in a corner of your heart. I thought I would stay there forever.’

‘Sigh! Those were memorable days.’

‘Memorable, but momentary.’

 

‘I agree. The adventure called life took over. After my graduation, I was overwhelmed by the paycheck and international placement my first job offered. The peer and family pressure, my selfish need to resurrect my family’s dwindling financial condition made me succumb. My greed didn’t stop there. The rat race made me scramble devilishly for all the worldly possessions, only to realise that I was running alone. I made you leave me.’

‘Could I have done anything to change that perception?’

‘No. It was my mistake. My folly made me believe the ridicules that I couldn’t achieve the same heights of prosperity along with you. I lacked the courage of conviction to rebel against convention.  Every day of these twenty years, I convinced myself that I am on the wrong side of things. Something was always amiss. But I never lost the hope of meeting you once again, being engrossed within you.’

‘So what made you come back?’

‘Money doesn’t attract me anymore. Purpose does. When I am old, lying on a hospital bed, I don’t want to die in remorse.  I pressed for a job transfer back to the city six months ago. Since then, I round the corner of this place every day en route home.’

‘I know that first love sticks till the very end. What took you six months to approach me?’ , she chuckled.

‘I wasn’t confident I could match up myself with the same old me.’

‘You make me feel like your ex. What is different about today?’

‘Well, it’s the literature festival with a difference. They have called upon all lost writers to reignite their passion. This is my chance to blend us both into a dimension called forever.’

‘You have a demanding job and a happy family. Do you really see me in the equation?’

A wave of motivation surged inside me and inspired the birth of gentle emotions. I cradled them to form words and they reverberated through my veins. I raised the lid of my laptop, logged in and began typing:

‘True love is uninhibited. Let us make this newfound union a memorable one.’

The words transformed into pearls knotted beautifully to form a garland around her imaginary self.

 

“Don’t give up your writing. Ever.”

 

“Thank you! You made me feel so satisfied.”, I smiled.

“It’s all right. After all, I am your writing addiction.”, she smiled, winked and vanished into the literary atmosphere.


The title is a tribute to O.Henry

In Charge.

Managing your career – Be in charge!

 

1. Introduction

1.1 Purpose of this article
This post will act as a guideline to prepare a Career Development Plan (CDP) and is part of personal career management and planning.

2. What is CDP? 

2.1 Brief Outline 

The CDP helps to develop an individual map for career progression. The idea is to have more controlled and measured approach towards one’s learning and career development. The organisation may follow it’s own appraisal process. But, you are the owner of your career. The CDP can be a simple word document prepared by you with the mentorship of his or her manager.

2.1 Stakeholders
The CDP is developed at the beginning of the year and is reviewed by his/her manager. It is your responsibility, and your manager can act as a facilitator. You and your manager can meet up at regular intervals during the year to take a checkpoint on the development and take corrective/progressive measures appropriately.

3. Before you start 

3.1 Self-Assessment
Assess your needs. Identify your current skills, knowledge level, technical or managerial abilities, and interests.

3.2 Overall Goals
Perform a goal setting exercise to determine the new skills, the technical or managerial experience you would like to acquire in the current year.

3.3 Purpose and Objectives
It would be fruitful to do a gap analysis as a first step to bridging the gap between the current situation and desired outcome. This would generate more insight into the purpose and objectives of this exercise.

4. What should one include in the plan?

4.1 Long Range Goals
This section can contain goals that you would like to achieve in the next 4 to 5 years timeline.

4.2 Intermediate Career Goals
This section can include goals that you would like to accomplish in the next 1 to 2 years schedule.

4.3 Annual Goals to Leverage Strengths
How can you apply your strengths to enhance your career? E.g. conduct training, publish articles.

4.4 Annual Goals for Learning and Knowledge development
Training courses and workshops that you plan to take up to address the development needs

4.5 Annual Goals for Organizational Activities
Plan for involvement in activities like recruitment, mentoring, etc

5. Review & Validate 

5.1 Initial Feedback & Revision
Once the CDP has been prepared, you can get it reviewed by your manager to validate it in accordance with your current career level and to align with the organizational goals. The goals that you set for yourself need to be SMART – Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

6. Measure and Track 

6.1 Evaluation
Progress is monitored against expectations on a quarterly basis. Techniques to measure different goals can be a part of the CDP.

6.2 Results
Based on the discussion with the employee, the manager can prepare a report of:
• Performance against goals
• Skills developed
• Knowledge gained

• Technical or Managerial abilities acquired

6.3 Feedback and Revision
Based on the feedback and results in steps above the manager can give appropriate feedback to the employee with some insightful recommendations.

6.4 Next Steps 

Once the employee has agreed upon the feedback, he/she can update the CDP for the next cycle.

Top Rider.

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rider

Trouble Free.

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Snooping Along.

“Myra is sleeping. She won’t wake up for another 3 hours at least. You can watch TV till I return.”

Before she could say “OK”, Sonia’s phone started to vibrate.

“I have to take this one.”, she picked up her handbag and walked outside the door holding her phone to her ear.

She gazed at Sonia’s hourglass figure, red gown and sparkling handbag as she closed the main door and unlocked her garage. Being alone, earning $15 per hour for the next 3 hours, and having nothing to do brought joy to her. She was up-to-date with her assignments as well. She smiled, moved her both hands through her waist length hair, immersed herself into the couch and switched on the TV.

After an hour of surfing channels, she was bored and went upstairs to check on Myra. She was sleeping like a daisy. She adjusted Myra back to her sleeping position and straightened the bed sheet and comforter that was crumpled. She put on additional pillows to prevent her from moving towards the end of the bed.

As she stepped out of Myra’s room, she saw the door of the library open. As she moved closer, she could see books spread all over. The  curtains flared from the open window bringing in amber bloom of the sunset. Probably a cat had knocked down one of the bookshelf and then escaped.

“What to do, wait for Sonia. For the six months that I have been here, she has never allowed me into the library?”, she thought, “Let me utilise my free time to adjust these books. Sonia would be happy. She might allow me to read a few books as well.”

She walked along the pile of books, aware of the loud sound of her shoes made when they hit the wooden floor. She didn’t want to wake up Myra. She trembled and bit her lower lip towards the left. She glanced over her shoulder, assured that she was still alone, moved nervously ahead.

As she started to arrange the books, some photos slipped down from a book. The photos were that of a man. The face looked familiar. Yes, he was Sonia’s husband who is missing since three months now. She was startled.

All the photos were mugshots. Each photo had a different name written on the back – John Catli, Jeff Flannery, Frank Bernard. The last one had a big red cross all over it.

She had seen Sonia beat a man in a courtyard. He apparently tried to misbehave. Sonia didn’t stop until he fell to the ground unconscious. Chills crept up her neck and forearms, and she abruptly shivered.

“These names on the photographs…..aren’t these famous contract killers?”, she remembered them from her Criminology classes. Could she have done her husband?”

Give and Take.

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Portrait Perfect.

Her mystical face embodied joie de vivre.  Her silken hair slumped over the swan-like mane and venus red lips resembled folded rose petals. Draped in white, she was nothing short of a celestial beauty. The jewel-like eyes, megawatt smile and pearly white teeth, this mesmerising beauty made her second to only one – the one whose portrait she was.

Her beauty dazzled as the fading evening rays shone on her.  He bent side ways and looked at portrait at an angle. He picked up his palette and brush to give her a few finishing touches along her light brown hair.

The wind gushed in, blowing the curtains, as if to sing her arrival. The aroma of her scent mixed with the petrichor created by the drizzle.  The fading light was subdued by the brilliance of her presence. Fiction had met reality.

“I knew what to expect when you called me to your studio.”

“Isn’t she better than the ones I have carved out before.” His eyebrows jumped in anticipation.

“Mm..Hmm.”, she frowned to give an incomplete confirmation.

“You know me very well, but you still don’t understand me.”

“Well, you are the first woman I ever knew after my mother.  We’ve been best of buddies through school, college and graduation. We pursued the same hobbies, played the same games, watched the same movies.”

“Yes. We are the best of buddies. So?”, she grinned and gazed inquisitively in his eyes.

“I can capture your spirit on the canvas even in your absence. Howz that for the understanding bit?”

A pause followed. The rain became incessant, splashing in from the windows.

She moved closer to scrutinise the portrait. The depiction so perfect, it had mirror-like precision.

“The hair are a bit too long. eyes too brown. The skin tone is a bit lighter.”, she smiled. Her comment echoed a critical judge in a reality show, who couldn’t find another reason to evict a contestant.

He turned the canvas, took a few steps back,  allowing the raindrops to dash on the portrait and dissolve the masterpiece into mush.

A long silence ensued.

He began thinking pensively of his next attempt.

“Ouch.”, she thought, “The portrait was perfect, my friend, but I want our relationship to stay in the realm of friendship. I don’t want the complexity of a marriage ruin everything. Things are rosy to start with. Lovers soon become strangers. Pain and agony follows. I would never risk our beautiful relationship to dissolve into nothingness like this portrait has.What if my beauty fades away and you stop loving me? Stay my friend, my friend.”

“Forget about it. We are late for the movie.”, she announced before tears could flow and dragged him towards her car.

Regard.

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regard

A fitting finish.

This is a climactic scene continuing from previous posts ‘Under Lock and Key’ and ‘Stalemate

<warning: contains expletives>


 

The decayed wooden furniture, cobweb stained walls, and mould covered curtains gave the head office of WDS Ltd an abandoned look. Akash pushed his elbow to break the glass and open the latch from inside. As he walked past the floor layered with paint flakes, his focus was to wipe the dust from his name.

“Welcome home”, said a husky voice. A tall figure emanated, pulling a gun from this pocket.

“Neil Singh!”, Akash exclaimed in disbelief.

“Yes, In flesh and blood. Hands up, please. You see, It wasn’t difficult to fake my death.”

“But, they recovered your body.”

“I offered a tramp 1000 rupees, dinner and sleepover in the comfort of my house. Then ‘BOOM’”

“But why did you do all this?”

“I fell in the love the first time I saw her with you. When they imprisoned you, I proposed to her, but that bitch Riya couldn’t forget you.”

“You bastard.”, Akash dashed towards Neil, pressed his neck and pinned him against the wall. The gun fell few feet away.

“Did Zoya frame me on your behest?”

“She was my muse and agreed to stage a play for me. That was enough to incarcerate you.”

“Then you killed her?”

“The slimy slut blackmailed me – not for money, but for sex. Her old and cold husband couldn’t keep the nymphomaniac happy. I did away with my turban and hair to avoid detection. You were out on bail; it was easy for the blame to be on you.”

Akash pressed hard. Neil gasped for breath, but he managed to pull out a knife, swing it across to cut through Affy’s stomach. He then rammed a blow in Affy’s torso crashing him down.

“By the way, this is the same knife I used to slit your dad’s throat.” He squatted and stuck the knife point in Affy’s neck.

“You freaking scoundrel. Why?”, he said as pain oscillated in his body.

“The old sack saw me burying Sheila in your backyard. She honey trapped me, taped all our conversations, and blackmailed me. When I killed her, I couldn’t recover the recordings from her mobile phone.”

If ACP Khan found the body in your backyard, you would indeed go to the gallows and Riya would be mine.”

“You are deranged. Better handover yourself and confess.”

Neil grabbed his gun and stuck it in Affy’s mouth “You are the last straw. The world will know that you committed suicide to repent for your sins. It will be quick, I guarantee.”

Affy closed his eyes and tasted iron. “It’s all over now.”, he thought as Riva’s face flashed before him.

A loud shot rang out. Blood splashed over Affy’s face as Neil dropped with a shuddering thud.

Riva’s face was for real. The bullet came from Khan’s Glock-17.

“Riva, I thought you stopped caring for me”, he said with a sore throat.

“Shut up. How do you think you got bail?”, and they hugged each other.

 
Additional Information:
  • Neil Singh is CEO of WDS Ltd. The company was defunct.
  • Jagadish Khattar (JK) is chairman of WDS . Zoya is his wife. She killed her husband for Neil.
  • Akash was in jail for Zoya’s molestation (See Under lock and key)
  • Akash and Riya’s relationship was at a low. (See Stalemate)
  • ACP Khan is the investigating officer. He was suspicious of Neil’s death due to DNA mis-match of the body recovered from his burnt house.
  • Sheila is a journalist friend of Riya. She gives a pen to Riva for safekeeping.
  • Akash receives an anonymous letter (sent by Neil) to come to WDS office for evidence that would vindicate him.
  • Riya realises that the pen has a recorder in it. She listens to the taped conversations between Sheila and Neil and takes it to ACP Khan, who tracks Affy by his cell phone location to WDS head office.