Leave Application

            LEAVE APPLICATION

Date: 1st October 2016

Subject: The submission of my leave application to go on a month-long backpacking trip to north-east India.

The first time I ever officially applied for a leave from work was during my 2nd job. That was when I first encountered the social stigma surrounding the desire of taking a long leave from work. Organizations didn’t prefer employees spending time doing silly things like living their lives. And the incriminating amount of guilt associated with asking for leaves was surprisingly accepted by the employees, too. My fallen colleagues tried to convince me of such sentiments, but I found it hard to agree with an unjust convention. If work should be a young adult’s priority, then living my life was my main full-time occupation, and taking a few days to give myself a travel experience was the next task on my to-do list.

The place I worked at was an Environmental Engineering company with 7 to 10 employees on an average. The company was started by the grandfather, cultivated by the father, and reaped by the grandson. This grandson, the half MD of the company, was my boss. I knew nothing, but I was willing to learn. He felt the same way as the active leader of the company. He hired me because he identified with me.

Passionate about nature and the environment, I wanted to contribute my time and energy for its betterment. The company may have started on similar sentiments, but now it was more about the money than the mission. At the beginning of September, I was six months into the job. Out of all the tools I was to use, I mostly worked with poor excuses and vague philosophical replies. But between such replies, I had worked hard from my side. I worked on ongoing projects, learnt from my seniors, and delivered some decent results. I was sincere and honest, and a satisfactory employee overall. Compared to what us employees were getting for our efforts, the bosses were a ball of a bargain.  

The middle weeks of September were high on heat. My boss felt dissatisfied with the team’s work. Somehow, abusing and yelling at employees wasn’t bringing in profitable results. And in an already unfriendly atmosphere, I was given the additional honour of being despised by my boss’s father, the senior MD. I couldn’t blame him, I hadn’t given him reasons to feel otherwise. He hated that I didn’t know much and was suspicious of my will to learn. For him, I was his son’s one of many disappointing decisions. The younger MD left room for feelings and emotions, while the senior MD was calculative and distrusting. But being rude, arrogant, and violently dramatic was something they both had in common. “Daddy” had always been brewing tension between me and his son, my boss. And on 30th of that September, while he was being his usual gaslighting self, I was sitting in line at Chembur railway station waiting to get a tatkal ticket for next morning’s train to northeast India.

Tatkal was an immediate ticket issued at 11 am, one day prior to the outstation train’s departure. To score a tatkal ticket, one had to line up before the counter as the allocation follows the first come first served arrangement. I arrived by the counter at an eager 5 am and still was the third person in line. Having nothing much to do while waiting, I intently listened to some music, engaged in some early morning writing, watched the bustle of people grow with the rising sun, went out to have a healthy breakfast of Poha, and came back to join the line. After all this time, it was still 3 hours for the ticketing to start. 

I bought a ticket for Siliguri with a waiting-number of 52. That meant if 52 people cancelled their tickets, I would get a confirmed seat. I had better chances of winning over the disappointed MD. For now, the ticket only granted me access to travel inside the 3-tier sleeper compartment of the train without an assigned seat. I had a confirmed seat booked in advance, but I gave it up because both my parents fell sick and I wanted to look after them. After two weeks, when they had recovered well, I decided to take the trip. Mom didn’t approve of me going solo again, but I had earned some points because of the sickness episode. While I was paying for the tickets I received a call from my boss, furiously grilling me on why I wasn’t present in the office which started at 10 am. I lied that I was helping with some preparations for a Pooja at my aunt’s house and promised that I’d be at the office soon. Got to thank society for accepting religion as a valid excuse for mediocrity and irresponsible actions.

Past few days, my boss had been displeased with my work. I was focussing more on the engineering part as opposed to the business development position for which I was recruited. Being a mechanical engineer, I felt inclined to understand the technical aspects of environmental engineering before trying to pitch it to potential clients. My boss disagreed, and with some manipulation by the bigger MD, tempers had escalated. And in this situation I had to break the news that I was going for a month-long trip to northeast India. Luckily, both the bosses hadn’t come to the office. It was a slow day, with just 5 of us employees minding our own business. I sat at my desk, drowsy from insufficient sleep and jittery from a mug full of strong coffee, wondering how to inform my boss about my oncoming absence from work.  

I had submitted a leave application a month before the original planned date. This would be my 2nd leave after the sudden leave for dengue, which too was for almost a month. That fever ridden leave was 4 months into the job, and it had been 2 months since then. This inconsistency along with an average of 4 self-sanctioned holidays per month didn’t lend much weight to my application. Yet my boss allowed me a 10 day leave for the same. That was nice of him, I was grateful for it. But I needed more. He had forgotten about it after I informed him about the trip getting postponed.

Now, it wasn’t about asking for leave; it was about informing the inevitable. I didn’t tell him during the office hours. Getting back home, I got lost in the fun of packing and preparations. My train departed at 8 am, I reached there early to see if I could hustle a seat by negotiating with the TC. The train was jam-packed, the TC couldn’t help me. The only way left was the uncomfortable one; to travel without a reservation, with the floor as my seat and politeness as my currency. As per the TC, I seemed a bit sophisticated and soft for this style of commute. He wasn’t wrong, but he hadn’t seen the stubbornness and malleability of KT-ridden engineers. I didn’t couldn’t articulate why the trip was important to me. The thought of not doing it would sink a hole in my heart. But there was no grand reason for it; it was something that I dearly wanted to do.

I boarded the train and made the most of somebody else’s upper berth. I made acquaintances and arrangements with fellow space sharers. Everyone was friendly and cooperative. Most of them were natives of northeast going back home for the holidays. We all were in good spirits and shared good vibes. To my mom’s delight, a friend was joining me on this trip. He too was a soft looker, but highly adjustable to circumstances. Indians, especially people from Mumbai, have the ability of adjusting and getting used to any form of situation. Adjustment is like a national hobby, ingrained to a level that it’s almost second nature for most of us. So, after sharing a few moments of excitement about the trip, we settled in for the 44 hour train ride without designated seats.

We got talking, and somewhere during our conversation my friend mentioned my leave from work. I was reminded that I still hadn’t informed my boss that I won’t be coming to office for a month. I thought the best way of conveying the news was through text and hence I wrote the following mail, which I consider my first official leave application.  

Dear Sir, 

This is with reference to my leave from work. 

I am sorry to spring this up suddenly but I request you to please consider my leave of absence from S#%^kl*n organization. 

The leave is for a travel journey that I wish to take to North East India as I had mentioned in the application.  My plan at that time was cancelled but all of a sudden it has come into action. I didn’t think I was going but just last night, in the spur of the moment I took off. 

The absence is of a great number of days and I can imagine your concerns on subject and I understand them completely. I am aware of the responsibilities that I am abandoning without notice, please don’t think that I take them or S#%^kl*n lightly, I am grateful for the opportunity you have given me. I have much more to learn. But I feel it also is our responsibility towards ourselves to live the life we’ve been graced with.

Environmental engineering is what I wish to do to earn my living and in such travel endeavors I try to find my living, it reminds me how beautiful our world is and sparks a drive to help the world to stay beautiful, clean, superklean! 

I wish to convey that with great hope and enthusiasm we have undertaken this venture and it would mean much to me if you’d grant us your support. 

Thank you.

To which he replied, 

– OK. Go and come back soon.

After deploying my application, I hoped that he’d understand, but I also prepared myself to return and not have the job. I was relieved to receive his supportive reply a few hours later. I was now travelling with an unburdened mind, free of stigma or guilt. 

It helps to talk to people and be communicative and sincere about your intentions; be it in a packed train or in an unfriendly work environment.

Thank you.
Yours furry,
GrizzlyBunny

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