As Ritika is walking to the stage to receive the award for the ‘Most Impactful Woman of 2019’ she cannot help wondering about how tough a journey this has been and how hard she has had to work to get here. Yes, today there are acknowledgements, there are accolades, but it wasn’t a long time ago when there had been hurdles, there had been obstacles and criticism from everywhere. Life had become unmanageable, but then eventually things had worked out, and today it all seems like a dream.
Ritika Sahni was the only daughter of Vivek and Poonam Sahni who had spent all her life in the city of Mumbai. Both her parents had been high ranking corporate executives who had risen to the zenith of their careers by sheer grit, tenacity and lots of hard work. The need to work hard in life and to have an ambition in life had been drilled into Ritika’s head right from her childhood. Vivek and Poonam had set very high standards for her in every facet of life as a result of which she could never settle for anything that was not the best.
So right from the school that she attended to the clothes that she wore to the friends that she had to the house in which they lived, everything had always been the best. But along with this, her parents had also impressed upon her the need to do one’s best if one wanted the best. So if she wanted to top in her class, she had to work hard, if she wanted her room to look good, she had to clean it up herself. She knew that nothing could ever come on a platter and so if she wished to have the best she had to put in her best too.
This attitude worked very well for her throughout her life and was responsible for all the success that she attained. All through her school and college life, she put in an incredible amount of hard work to remain at the top. While people around her partied and took life for granted, she sacrificed all the fun and games to get to her goals. However, that didn’t make her a boring person at all. She just knew what to do when.
On their part, Vivek and Poonam also always put everything aside to be there for her. Between their busy work schedules, they made sure that one of them was still there for her. They raised her with a lot of love and affection, giving her the right kind of values and beliefs. So Ritka grew up to be a smart, confident and a driven young girl who always knew her mind. After completing her education, she got placed in a top multinational bank and within a short period managed to make a place for herself. Being a pleasant natured person, she was very popular too.
But as is so true in life when people become successful, many are jealous and want to see you bite the dust. This was something that Ritika had realised as she was growing up. Whenever she did well in school and was appreciated or awarded for it, there were many of her so-called friends who picked holes in her achievements and spread stories about how she had managed by sucking up to her teachers. The first time that she had heard these stories, it had hurt like hell, and she had cried for hours as the person who had spread these tales was her closest friend. She had felt betrayed and let down, and it had taken a lot of time and effort on her mother’s part to counsel her and help her to come to terms with what had happened. But with time, she learnt how to deal with these kinds of situations and not let them bother her at all. She was so focused on her goals that she learnt to take most of the flak and criticism in her stride and move on. This worked till the time she was in school and college because I guess till then the stakes were not too high. Getting the first rank or a scholarship or a position in the Student Council does not ruffle too many feathers. The stakes are not too high, and so people are also contained in their efforts to stop others from growing. But that does not hold for everything in life as she was to realise later on in life. Another thing that she realised in her life was that if one had the unconditional love and support of one’s loved ones, then one can cross every hurdle in life.
So with this kind of an attitude, she sailed through her school and college life and joined her first job. Her quest for excellence guided her through her work life too. She was not hesitant to put in the required amount of hard work or the number of hours that she had to. She made work her worship and got the first sweet taste of success when within two years of joining, she was promoted to the next level. Her joy knew no bounds, but within a few days of the promotion, she was targeting the next level.
But before she could get there cupid struck and her life took on a new dimension. While she was on an offsite with her colleagues in Goa, she met Rahul who had also come with his company to Goa for an offsite. They bumped into each other at the gym and struck up a friendship. Since they were both bankers, they had lots to talk about. Along with that, they discovered that they had common interests. They both loved travelling, reading and enjoyed water sports. As a result, in the three days that they spent in Goa, they ended up spending a lot of time with each other. Once the offsite got over, they promised to stay in touch with each other though they lived in different cities. Ritika lived in Mumbai while Rahul belonged to Delhi.
It wasn’t easy for them to stay in touch, given their busy schedules, but still, there was something between them that enabled them to remain in each other’s hearts. As a result though infrequently they met up whenever they travelled to each other’s cities or spoke to each other whenever they could. This went on for about two years after which maybe because fate willed it or because they were meant to be they started meeting regularly. And six months later Rahul proposed to her. Though she had been expecting it, Ritika took sometime before accepting the proposal. She spoke to her parents about it who were happy to know that she was considering getting married. Though they were in no rush to get her married like all parents, they wanted her to find a life partner, someone other than them with whom she could spend her life. They had been getting proposals for her, but since she had never shown any interest in getting married, they hadn’t seriously considered anyone of them. And now that she had broached the topic herself, they were more than happy to meet Rahul.
Both Vivek and Poonam were delighted to meet Rahul and were quite taken in by his charming personality. And the fact that Ritika loved him was more than enough for them to agree to the two of them tying the knot. After that, both sets of parents met up and finalised the date, and two months later, Rahul and Ritika were happily married. Since both of them were similar in various ways, it wasn’t tough for them to start their life together. They understood each other, each other’s work compulsions and challenges. As a result, they became a constant source of support to each other. Though they had decided never to bring their work home, they did that whenever they wanted advice or wanted a way out of a sticky situation.
Life otherwise also was good. Rahul was most, unlike a typical male who stayed away from household responsibilities. He was more than happy to chip in whenever required and always understood when Ritika had to work till late in the office. As a result, the marriage did not need Ritika to change her attitude towards work. She was as driven as before.
But although she was working hard, she started facing a lot of problems at work. While she had been away on leave to get married Sanjay Mehra had joined the bank in her division at roughly the same level as her. He was equally good and terribly ambitious too. By the time she joined back, which was three weeks after his joining, he had had enough time to settle in and get a sense of the place and its dynamics. When she came back, he went out of his way to welcome her and organised a party for her and Rahul. He made it seem as though they were some long lost pals who were going to be there for each other forever. Now Ritika though a bright girl was not very street smart. She had this habit of taking everyone at face value and could never see beyond. But Rahul was the complete opposite. The moment he met Sanjay, he kind of knew that there was something amiss, something not right about him. He was just too nice. He warned Ritika about him and told her to keep her interaction with him to the minimum. But Ritika being Ritika did not find anything wrong with him and on the contrary, found him to be very helpful. As a result, she would discuss a lot of things with him, her ideas, her plans. What she failed to realise was that many times he took her ideas and palmed them off as being his own. He would go and speak to their boss Rajat and give him the ideas making it seem as though they were his own and he had spent hours thinking about new ways of doing things.
Other than that he would also meet Rajat after office hours for drinks, take him out for meals and thus connect with him on an informal basis. While doing that he would make sure that Ritika had no idea about such meetings. So he would either meet up with him when she was travelling or was busy somewhere. As a result, he was able to establish a separate equation with Rajat. He was always at his beck and call to an extent where he would even volunteer to take Rajat’s wife out for shopping if Rajat so wanted. Rajat, on his part, started depending on him for anything and everything. Ritika remained oblivious to these developments for a long time till one day when they had all gathered in the conference room to make a presentation on how a particular new service had to be marketed.
Ritika was the first one to make her presentation after which it was Sanjay’s turn. Now Ritika’s idea and the way she presented it was appreciated by one and all including Rajat. She was also pleased by the response and was quite hopeful that it would be her idea that would be accepted. She was mulling over all of this when all of a sudden, she realised that Sanjay’s presentation had started and his concept and the way it was being pitched was all too familiar !! And then another realisation hit her!! That was the idea that she had discussed with him at length and she clearly remembered that he had trashed it completely saying that it was impractical and way too cost-ineffective. She had not been convinced with his arguments but the way in which he had rejected it had made her doubtful about it, and she had discarded it to look for another option. Luckily for her, she had managed to think of another one and since she hadn’t had the time to discuss it him he hadn’t known anything about it. But what was this?? How could he have done this to her? How could he have stolen her idea and claim it to be own?
Didn’t he have any shame? Apparently not!!
Though his presentation was equally good, most people in the room were more impressed by Ritika’s idea and the way she proposed to carry it forward. Judging by the reaction, Ritika was confident that her idea would be the one to go through which meant a whole lot of things in terms of recognition at different platforms, a big bonus and maybe a promotion too. The stakes were high. The day got over with Rajat winding up the proceedings by saying that he would go over both the presentations once more on his own and then take a call. Ritika was pretty confident that he would like hers and give it the go-ahead. She discussed the whole thing with Rahul, who wasn’t at all sure. He feared for the worst, which is what eventually happened. The next day Rajat called the two of them to his room and told them that he felt that Sanjay’s idea was more viable and would eventually lead to more profitability for the bank and that is why he had decided to go ahead with it. This was like a bolt from the blue for Ritika. She felt that she had been shortchanged on every front. Her original idea had been stolen and on top of that, her new idea and the strategy to implement it though an excellent proposition had been rejected. She decided that she needed to have a word with Rajat and with this intention in mind, she asked to see him. But to her surprise and shock, though he agreed to see her, he was quite curt with her and told her not to behave like a child and accept the fact that she wasn’t good enough. And if this wasn’t enough, the year-end appraisal gave her a pretty good idea of where she stood as far as her position in the organisation was concerned. Her appraisal made it seem as though she was just an average employee with no zeal to work hard. It stated that she wasn’t a team player and did not know how to work in coordination with others. As she went through it, she had tears running down her cheeks as it was grossly unfair and biased. Rajat had labelled her as an inefficient, ineffective employee who lacked initiative and innovativeness. She shared it with Rahul who knew who was responsible for it and though he was livid, there wasn’t anything that he could do about it.
As expected, Sanjay’s appraisal was just the opposite, and as a result, he was handsomely rewarded with a bonus and a promotion. And of course, Sanjay could not stop talking about it and how he had worked hard to earn it. What amazed Ritika was the fact that there wasn’t even a hint of remorse in him. Though very angry Rahul advised her to swallow it all like a bitter pill and move on. But by now Ritika had realised that the next year or any other year after that would not be any different. With the two of them being hand in glove with each other, there was no hope in hell for her. But left with no choice she carried on. Her father was also of the opinion that the situation was unfortunate but not an unheard-of one in the corporate world. He advised her to be patient and wait for things to change. In the meanwhile, he advised her to become a little more active in terms of connecting and networking with her seniors.
But before she could even think of doing any such thing, she discovered that she was pregnant and so had to take things easy. Though she continued to put in the required amount of work, her health demanded her attention, and she could not afford to ignore it. She was under a lot of stress at that time, and though she had Rahul’s full support and cooperation, she went into a kind of depression as far her work was concerned. Having always been a top performer who was recognised and rewarded for her achievements, getting relegated to a second class citizen was not acceptable to her. And then she had to go on leave to deliver her son. All through her maternity leave, she was itching to get back because she knew that the longer she stayed away from work, the harder it would be for her get back into the grove. She knew that if Sanjay could help it, he would make sure that people forgot that she even existed. What made her situation even more difficult was the fact that now that she was a mother, she was always caught in a dilemma. She was always torn between her son and the situation at work. Many times she wondered if by getting affected by corporate politics was she not being unfair to her son. In fact, at this stage, her mother intervened and advised her to forget about work till the time she was on leave as worrying about it was not going to serve any purpose. She told her to focus on her son, which is what Ritika decided to do. But then it wasn’t long before it was time for her to join back. And the situation there hardly surprised her.
While she had been away, Sanjay had become even more powerful than before. Since Rajat was in his pocket, he had started behaving as if he was the boss and had no qualms about throwing his weight around. He had become extremely unpopular, nobody liked him, but because of his proximity to Rajat, everyone feared him. Rajat, on his part, was quite happy with not having to deal with a lot of things that he had delegated to Sanjay. He had no idea about what was happening at the ground level and entirely relied on Sanjay for everything, which was a huge mistake. Ritika was shocked to see that Rajat had allowed Sanjay to become a power centre and Sanjay was grossly misusing that power. He doled out favours to those who sucked up to him and to the others who questioned him he meted out disciplinary and other actions. He treated everyone with the utmost disrespect and disregard. This was a lot of anger and frustration in the office. Rajat had become totally unapproachable. Even if someone tried to approach him to apprise him about the situation, he did not listen to that person and told Sanjay to deal with the matter. On joining when Ritika went to see him, he did not spend even a minute with her and told her to speak to Sanjay about all her work-related issues. Ritika was, of course, livid with the way she had been treated because all said and done she had been in the organisation longer than Sanjay and deserved some more respect.
But it wasn’t long before Rajat’s seniors got wind of the situation in his branch. One of the employees in his exit interview mentioned how Rajat and Sanjay had made the branch their fiefdom and were behaving like virtual rulers. This revelation had the desired impact. An investigation followed which shed light on the gravity of the situation. It was revealed that the motivation and morale of the employees were at an all-time low which was harming their productivity. The top management decided to take action and transferred Rajat to another branch. This action had a twin purpose. One was that Rajat would be removed from the scene and with his mentor no longer on the scene Sanjay world be rendered ineffective, to begin with, and redundant over a period of time.
Rajat’s successor was Sahil, a seasoned professional who was able to come to grips with the situation the moment he arrived. And in any case, he had been given a heads up by the top management. He figured that Sanjay had tried to establish his control over everything and to that end, he had learnt how to manage Rajat and keep him happy and since he did not want to align Ritika with him, he had completely sidelined her. He also figured that Sanjay was a very average professional who did not want to work hard, and he tried to cover all these inadequacies by managing his boss. He also realised that Ritika had immense potential which needed to be tapped. So he began supporting her and encouraging which of course did not go down well with Sanjay. Though happy with the development Rahul and Ritika were wary of Sanjay’s intentions, and Rahul warned her to be careful of his next move.
As a result, the next few months were a complete opposite of what had been happening earlier. It was Ritika who was now visible everywhere. It was her work that was getting acknowledged and appreciated while Sanjay was nowhere in the picture. Since everyone was well aware of how Ritika had been treated in the past, they all felt that she deserved this recognition of her hard work. Of course, Sanjay was smarting and angry, but this time on, he had no option but to swallow a bitter pill and accept what was happening. But that did not mean that he did not hold Ritika responsible for his situation. In his head, he was convinced that she had done this to him. At no stage did it occur to him that he had caused her a great deal of harm in the past, and maybe it was time for him to pay back. But the kind of person that he was he could not sit still. His mind was working on how he could get back at her. And though a couple of his friends suggested that he should let it be and move on to another job he was sure that he wanted to mess up things for her before he left.
This intention of his led to one of the ugly phases of Ritika’s career. It seemed like a horrible dream while it lasted and even when it got over it left a deep and long-lasting impact on her.
With a change of guard at the top Ritika started getting her due which was a significant change for her and a much-awaited one. She started getting the motivation to work hard and put in her best. By then, her son Karan had started going to school, so it was easy for her to focus on her work. And of course, Rahul was his usual cooperative self. He took care of Karan whenever required and encouraged her to work hard. He had always known that she had a lot of potential and a drive to move ahead in her career which drive had got suppressed as a result of Sanjay’s machinations. So now that she was getting her due, he did not want her to get bogged down by her responsibilities towards him or their son. In any case, he knew that she was a caring mother and would never unnecessarily neglect Karan. So Rirtika had the go-ahead from the family front. She worked till late when required, travelled as and when necessary and may times carried her work home. All this paid off, soon the year came to an end, and it was time for the year-end appraisal. As expected, Ritika’s appraisal went off very well and resulted in a long-awaited and a much-deserved promotion. She was over the moon. Her friends and colleagues were also very happy for her, but one person clearly was not.
Sanjay was angry, and so Sanjay became revengeful. He started by spreading rumours about her and like it happens in most of these cases; he started spreading rumours about her and Saahil. And he did it in a very cunning way. Like while having a conversation with people he would take the conversation to a topic which involved the two of them and then slide in a comment about how he had seen the two of them laughing and joking with each other while they were in office working till late or how they always travelled together, stayed in the same hotels in adjoining rooms and spent a lot of time with each other. He intended to cast aspersions on her character and malign her as much as possible. Though initially, no one paid heed to his comments as they say if a lie is repeated a multiple number of times it does become true. So with time, some people started believing the rumours and also started drawing their conclusions based on random events and observations. Like if the two travelled together on work, it began to get noticed, if Saahil praised Ritika in a meeting or somewhere, that started getting noticed or even if she spent a lot of time in his room it got noticed. And in any case, Sanjay was always there to add fuel to the fire and lend more credence to it by adding his own bits to it.
Now while working Ritika had become very close to Amrita, one of the receptionists in the office. It had so happened that Amrita’s husband had met with an accident and had had to be operated upon. Since she had had financial issues, many people in the office, including Ritika, had come forward to help her out. Ritika had also made sure that Amrita got all possible help from the office as well. All through the treatment she had been in constant touch with her and given her a lot of moral support. Her generosity and large-heartedness had touched Amrita, and since then, the two of them had become very close. But since they were very far apart in terms of the corporate hierarchy, no one had been able to gauge the closeness. Amrita was privy to a lot of what was being spread about her friend because she sitting on her desk could hear and see a lot of stuff without people getting to know about it. It wasn’t long before she observed that Sanjay was leaving no stone unturned to malign her friend and to shred her reputation. It made her furious because, for one, it was her friend that he was doing that to and that friend was a woman, and she could not tolerate this kind of chauvinism. So one day she called Ritika, and the two decided to meet for coffee during which she told Ritika about what Sanjay had been up to. To say that she was shocked would be an understatement. Though aware of Sanjay’s dirty mind and politicking habits, she had not expected him to stoop down to that level.
Moreover, she hadn’t expected people to believe him. But she realised that everybody loves to gossip and also if one is doing well an element of jealousy does creep in as a result of which people want to pick holes in others to believe that they are after all not so perfect. Nevertheless, this development shook her up completely. She became conscious of how she interacted with Saahil, how much time she spent with him, but she couldn’t do it forever. After all, they were working together. She didn’t know what to do. She considered quitting but then realised that that would not serve any purpose and on the contrary would make her look guilty. Moreover, she knew that she had to learn to handle a situation like this which could arise elsewhere too.
Fortunately for her, she could share this with her husband, who wasn’t yet again surprised by what she told him. The thing was that he was more worldly-wise than her and was aware of what people could do. So he not only understood the situation but was patient and caring enough to counsel her and guide her through it. He advised her to ignore Sanjay completely and not react at all. Furthermore, he told her to focus on her work as he felt that these kinds of rumours have a tendency to die down as they are entirely baseless and which is what happened. With time people’s attention got diverted away from her and they forgot about it. Moreover, she also made an effort to be easily accessible to people working with her, share things with them and sometimes just spend time with them discussing anything and everything other than work. But needless to say, the episode did shake her up quite a bit.
Life moved on, and with time Sanjay had no choice but to leave and go. In fact, once he figured he would not be able to go anywhere in that particular setup, he quietly resigned from the job and left.
Ritika was now going up the corporate ladder by leaps and bounds, and there was actually no stopping her. She had now risen to the position of a Regional Head, a job that involved a lot more responsibility, accountability along with a lot of travel. Though the role was a tough one, Rahul continued to support her and be there for her, which enabled her to focus on her job without any guilt. Their son was now in high school and needed time and attention, but the couple because of the love and understanding between them were able to devote the required amount of time and attention to him. Rahul had also gone up in life but not as much as his wife, but to his credit, he never felt jealous or insecure. He had realised over a while that he was not as ambitious as Ritika and therefore did not want to work that hard on the professional front. He wanted to pursue his passions and interests in life, and he wanted to devote time to them as well. But at the same time, he understood that for her, her work was her passion, and he was okay with it.
The way Ritika’s organisation functioned was that once a person got the role of a Regional head, the next step was to take over a cluster of regions after which one could move towards the position of the country head. Ritika was clearly interested in following that path and was working towards when she had to face another bottleneck. She at that point had begun to observe that all her work, her suggestions, her initiatives were one more time in life all not getting their due. In fact, several times her boss, Sharad just refused even to consider them, and this time there was no Sanjay on the scene. Since she and her boss functioned out of two different cities, she wasn’t able to meet him very often, but of course, they communicated regularly though it wasn’t a face to face interaction. She knew that there was a problem somewhere but couldn’t put a finger to it. He would sometimes be, offhand, sometimes even rude with her and had no respect or regard for her. She discussed this with Rahul who suggested that the next time she had an important issue to discuss with him, she should go to Bangalore which is where Sharad was based to have a face to face interaction with him. Taking upon his suggestion, she fixed up a meeting and flew down to Bangalore. But the moment she entered his cabin, she got this huge sense of discomfort. Now she had never met him alone and never in his office. She walked in, and her sixth sense told her that all was not well. She wasn’t very comfortable with the way he looked at her and kind of checked her out from top to bottom. Being a woman, it wasn’t the first time that she was having such an experience, but this time it seemed different and a tad intimidating. The leering smile, the look in his eyes id not give a nice feeling. But she chose to ignore all of it and get straight to the point. But even while she was talking to him, she could sense that he was not paying much attention to what she was saying. It was as though he wasn’t taking her seriously. The thorough professional that she was this attitude made Ritika livid. She couldn’t comprehend how someone at that level could ignore something so critical in nature. She couldn’t believe that he could be so unprofessional, but he was. In fact, after about ten minutes of a monologue where she was the one who was talking, he stopped her mid-sentence and suggested that they have the rest of the conversation over drinks in the evening. Having said that he pretended to get back to whatever he was doing before she had walked in and all but dismissed her. She had no choice but to leave.
She was angry, she was disappointed, she was worried but most of all she was disgusted. She knew why he wanted to meet her over drinks, but she was clear that she didn’t. Her issues with him were professional and had to be sorted out in a professional environment. There was no question of drinks or anything like that. But she couldn’t even refuse. So what was she to do? A big, big dilemma!! She mulled over it for a while and then as always decided to consult Rahul. Rahul was equally shocked by Sharad’s nerve. He realised that the situation wasn’t an easy one and needed to be dealt with in a tactful manner. He gave the problem a deep thought and then came up with an idea. He told her to extend her visit by a day, leave the office immediately that day saying that she wasn’t feeling too well and then cancel the evening meeting with Sharad. He said that she could propose to meet him the following day in the bar of the hotel where she was staying and in the meanwhile Rahul would fly down and then both could meet him. While she liked the idea, she didn’t want to seem like a schoolgirl who didn’t know how to take care of herself. But then she realised that if she tried telling him off or rebuffing him, he may take it out on her on the professional front and since he was in a position of power he could harm her in many ways. She told Rahul that his arrival in the hotel should seem like a surprise to even her and he could make an entry when she was in the bar with the boss. Tact was the need of the hour as they both realised.
So she left the office, called in sick the next day but made it seem to her boss as though in spite of being under the weather she was still willing to meet him. Of course, it pleased the boss no end who was grinning his sly grin from ear to ear when he walked into the bar. She saw him and was itching to give him a tight slap across his face but of course couldn’t do that. So she got up, greeted him, and they ordered their drinks. They got into a small talk which though not very pleasant wasn’t something she couldn’t handle. It wasn’t as though she hadn’t come across such kind of men who treated women as sexual commodities and had no qualms about it. The one thing was that on this occasion she had a lot at stake and she didn’t want to give it all up. And somewhere she was confident that with a little bit of tact and guile this could be handled.
And then Rahul and Ritika Sharma pulled off a charade which could have put most professional actors to shame.
The door opened, Rahul walked in and looked around for the two of them. Though Ritika had seen him enter, she pretended as if she hadn’t and continued to talk to Sharad. Rahul looked around, saw them and with a look of love, concern and surprise walked up to them and said, ‘ How come you are in the bar? I thought you were not well!!’
Ritika with an innocent expression on her face, asked him,’ But how come you are here? Weren’t you supposed to be at home with Karan helping him with his project?’
Rahul hugged her and said. ‘ Love, you didn’t sound like yourself on the phone and though you kept saying it was nothing I couldn’t believe you and had to come and see you and maybe take you back.’ I thought you were hiding something from us and so wanted to come.’
For a minute even Sharad looked alarmed wondering if he had missed something, but Ritika brushed his concern aside saying that her husband was the unnecessarily worrying kinds and so could be ignored.
All three sat down, Rahul also ordered his drink and got talking to Sharad who had no choice but to join in. Rahul made a big show of how Ritika was so impressed by him and his sharpness and his work ethics. He went on to say that she always made him feel that Sharad was a great boss, and she was extremely fortunate to have him as her boss. Now if Sharad was a lech, he was also someone who liked to hear people praise him and suck up to him. This was something the couple had gauged and so decided to play on that weakness. During the conversation, they impressed upon him as to how Ritika could be his ally in everything that he wanted to do. He could trust her with anything, and she could be his eyes and ears in Mumbai. They sweet-talked him, they got him drunk and by the end of the evening managed to convince him about her loyalty towards him.
Now whether Sharad was an idiot who fell for their ploy or he was too drunk to see through the game that they were playing or he decided to give up on his idea of a good evening with a beautiful woman, by around midnight he had had enough and wanted to go back to his room.
Ritika and Rahul also went to their room, and the next day they both flew back home. After that, Ritika made it a point not to have any personal contact with Sharad but on the surface gave him the impression of being his staunch supporter and ally. Rahul on his part also kept in touch with him, and within a few months, Sharad also moved on. But he wasn’t someone who could stay away from women, especially the ones he thought were vulnerable. He repeated the same thing with a young girl who was pretty junior and who he bumped into in the lift. He passed a few lewd remarks to her which for obvious reasons did not go down well with her, but at that time she chose to ignore him. But not the kinds to give up he pursued her hinting all the time that being with him would help her in her career. She tolerated it for a while, but when it became too much, she decided to complain against him. The Sexual Harassment committee of the organisation took serious note of the complaint. Though difficult to prove, his position in the organisation did not permit even an allegation of such a kind. And then before the committee could arrive at a decision, there was a complaint from another woman after which his fate was sealed. He was asked to go on leave which meant that he had to quit and which he did.
Ritika, of course, was over the moon. She knew that justice had finally prevailed. She knew how close she had been to getting exploited by him and could very well understand the predicament of the young girl. She was on the committee which investigated the complaint, and for obvious reasons, she had nothing to say in his defence.
The hurdle crossed Ritika moved on with her usual grit and tenacity. Within a year she had moved up to Sharad’s position and three years later had become the Country Manager. Under her leadership, the bank scaled greater heights, surpassed the competitors, and she was applauded and appreciated by one and all. Her family was incredibly proud of her accomplishments. And she was incredibly happy with the way her career had panned out. But of course, she wasn’t ready to hang up her boots yet. She still had miles to go.
And today on the nineteenth day of October as she is walking up to the stage to receive the award for ‘ The most Impactful Woman for the Year 2019, she cannot help reliving parts of her life, parts which pushed her on and parts which almost did her in!! She is thanking her stars that she could move on notwithstanding the challenges.
And so she Believed, she Achieved and she Succeeded!!