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A leap of faith

I was in my early fifties and in a senior position with a public sector organisation. I had all the perquisites that came with the post — an air-conditioned room, a swivel chair (where my sari always got entangled), a glass-topped table (which was too big for my short frame), a personal secretary and a dedicated peon. A little background to the embarrassing turn of events!

It was nearly closing time. I went to the ladies’ washroom to spruce up before leaving. Now this washroom was carved out from the men’s room probably when the first few ladies came into an office which was hitherto male-dominated. I entered the room which housed the washbasin and a mirror, closing and locking the door through which I had come in. Then I went into the toilet and automatically closed the door shut. Only then I realised to my dismay that the inside handle of the door lock was missing. Without it I would not be able to open the door! Now I had two locked doors between me and the outside world and office closing time was nearing. Initially I panicked. Then I decided to finish my business first and then think about a way out. A few minutes later, I stood inside the tiny lavatory wondering what to do.

The men’s room was right next to this. The dividing wall rose up to more than seven feet and above that was a gap of about three feet to the ceiling. Suddenly I heard footsteps in the men’s room. I called out to whoever it was. “Oh, is that you Rema madam? What is the problem,” he asked. I explained to him the difficult situation I was in. He assured me that he would bring help.

Soon there were a few men gathered in the men’s room discussing how to bring me out. Finally someone climbed up on a stool on their side and lowered another one to me. On instructions from him I clambered onto the stool with difficulty. But I could hardly reach the gap in the wall. The man on the other side asked me rather apologetically whether he could grab my hands and haul me up! “Oh, please do,” I said desperately. Soon I was sitting on top of the separating wall. There was a large crowd gathered in the men’s room watching the spectacle. Now came the part of jumping down onto the stool there. After much encouragement from the grinning men I jumped down on to the stool first and then to the ground, starched cotton sari flying. A huge cheer went up amid enthusiastic clapping. I thanked them all, red-faced with embarrassment.

Many years later, I went to the office of a finance company to renew a fixed deposit. It was located on the second floor of the building complex. I took the lift, finished the transaction and was back at the lift gate to go down. I got into the lift, opening its grille doors and pressed the button to go down. I was the only one in the lift. Instead of going down, the lift went all the way up to the fifth and last floor. Then without stopping it went down, all the way to the ground floor. I could see people standing outside on some of the floors waiting for the lift. After reaching the ground floor, it started up again. The lift completed a few such trips before those people realised that the lift was faulty and that I was stuck inside. On one such trip, a man shouted out to me, “Madam, when the lift reaches this floor again, press the stop button and quickly open the inner door. I will open the outer door simultaneously. You should step out immediately. Let us see whether it works.” Before he could finish, the lift had moved up but I could hear his instructions clearly. With a prayer on my lips, I waited as the lift started its journey down once again. On reaching that particular floor, I jammed the stop button while opening the inner door. The man outside also opened the door and I quickly stepped out. Just in time. The lift started moving again on its never-ending journey.

Fortunately, that was the last of my adventures to date!

r.rema@yahoo.com


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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 8:02:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/a-leap-of-faith/article35513907.ece

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