MENTAL HEALTH FOR ALL

American gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the Tokyo Olympic floor final earlier this year to focus on her mental health. She has not minced words in documenting her struggles with mental health in posts on her social media accounts. Mind you, she has been a reigning champion – a superstar!

Of late, mental health has been drawing the much needed attention from several quarters. Celebrities coming out to share their mental health struggles has immensely furthered the cause, which is otherwise considered to be a stigma in most parts of the world.

If you are a person who still thinks that there is a lot of unwanted fuss being made about ‘mental health’ and that there are other issues that deserve more attention, then you really need to rethink. Just as one would nurse a bruised limb in case of an injury, a wounded mind also needs to be nursed.

Be it about the physical, social, spiritual or psychological issues, we humans focus more on the seen than on the unseen. And this shapes our behaviour most of the times. However, what is unseen is more crucial than what is seen!

Have you ever attended a Puppet Show? Not only children, but adults too are attracted towards the colourful talking, singing, jumping puppets. But, what attention would puppets draw without puppeteers or marionettists doing their jobs well, behind the screen? The voices of the puppets and their movements are all regulated by the puppeteers. Puppets look attractive, but without voices and movements, they won’t be any different than dolls or other toys that kids play with and no one would accord them much attention. What is unseen is significant to the visible performance of a Puppet Show and that by large determines the success of the show!

We humans focus so much on what we consciously perceive, that we ignore the major preconscious and unconscious zones of our minds. What is concealed comprises of more than what is revealed. And, this concealed zone influences the revealed zone greatly.

This article is not about training the preconscious and unconscious minds. Rather, the intent of this article is to drive home the point that since a person is more than what you and I see him or her as, and since a person’s behaviour is regulated by factors more than what is seen in the external environment, we need to be sensitive to each other’s mental health.

Who are the target groups?

Everyone.

Starting from foetal stage till grey hairs right  upto the grave – each one needs mental health care.

Mental health deterioration in a person (if it happens) starts from the time s/he is conceived owing to environmental stressors and genetic predispositions. When we ensure sound mental health of an expectant mother, we ensure sound mental health of the baby that is born. If the foetus growing within the mother is indirectly exposed to environmental stressors be they in the form of physical/ psychological/sexual/substance abuse, domestic violence, workplace harassment, maternal distress and sicknesses, poor nutrition – the baby that is born either develops a hardy personality (i.e., extreme resilience to stressors and a remarkable ability to cope with them) or develops a vulnerable personality (i.e., extremely sensitive to stressors and ill-equipped to cope with them). Besides purely medical conditions, the genesis of mental ill-health begins from this stage. Hence, foetal mental health is of utmost importance.

Children’s mental health needs a lot of attention too. The way children are shaped and cared for reflects in their adult lives. While the mental health of all children is crucial, those who suffer from disabilities and consequently from low self-esteem, those from single parent or parent absent families, those from war torn parts of the world, those subjected to abuse, those exposed to trauma and other disturbing life events – need specific mental health care.

Adolescent mental health care is crucial as the youngsters leap from childhood into adulthood and dabble with identity, acceptance and self-esteem issues. As they experiment with looks, relationships, careers and largely detest the tons of parental advice that are heaped on them, as they taste success or meet failures – there mental health needs attention. If the adolescent suffers from physical or psychological disorders/ disabilities, targetted mental health care is essential. This is precisely the stage when adolescents need to understand and accept that it is absolutely vital to seek good counsel.

Healthy adults shape up a healthy world. Numerous factors can mar an adult’s mental health. Starting from a lack of social acceptance, repressed childhood memories, to job hazards (harassment, exploitation, deprivation of rights and entitlements, unhygienic environment, layoffs), personal or familial ill-health, financial crises, family disputes, domestic violence, substance abuse and many more such additions to the list – an adult’s mental health requires a lot of care.

During the sunset years of life when one lies in a phase of apparent relaxation, mental health needs to be cared for. This is the time when most aged people are left uncared for, given menials and in many cases given the least attention. This is the time when they feel unwanted, when their desires are left unmet and their thoughts wander without expression. This is the time when most of the aged suffer from various illnesses. While a seed that promises to bear fruits needs care and nurturance, a tree that has borne fruits and flowers throughout life needs to be proffered due dignity.

So you see, all stages of life require mental health care just as they require physical health care.

With this I come to another important aspect which I would urge everyone to ponder upon.

Is mental health consideration meant for the educated and the affluent alone? What about that tramp on the street, the maid in the house, that ragpicker, the child labourer, the trafficked girl in the brothel and all those who find themselves at the receiving end of educational, social, economical deprivation? Those whose primary concerns are two square meals a day, a few old clothes on the body and perhaps someone’s doorstep for shelter? Who cares for their mental health, if at all?

With an unprecedented pandemic hitting the world which was at the helm of economic, technological, social progress like never before – mental health has suffered severe battering. In the last one and half years, there have been reports of increase in crime and domestic violence of humungous proportions – a majority of which have been under reported or have gone unreported. Millions of people have been rendered jobless. Thousands have lost their loved ones. Children have been orphaned.

While mental health professionals are doing their bit to help a wounded world, what can you and I do?

  1. Recognize the need for sound mental of those around you – your spouse, parents, children, siblings, neighbours, colleagues, superiors, subordinates, domestic helps, caregivers, service providers and anyone who you come in contact with.
  2. Cater to their mental health to the extent you can – Understanding words, appreciation, encouragement, connecting to legal/ medical/ mental health professionals as the requirement may be.
  3. Be sensitive – Do not share sensitive details of one person with others without their permission.
  4. Take care of your own mental health – In order to cater to and be sensitive to others’ mental health, one’s own mind needs to be in good health. Take a break when required. Do things that relax you. Arrange for like-minded caregivers to fill in for you in your daily chores as you care for your mind.
  5. Pray – Health is a blessing from God. He alone can grant the serenity and well-being of the mind when the tides rise against us. Whether you are in bliss or in the tumultuous tempests, pray that God keeps your mind tranquil and supple.

God’s plan for mankind was never chaos and destruction. But since we have driven ourselves into it, our mental health has suffered a severe beating. Seeking His strength, we can collectively work together for our own and others’ psychological well-being. May the theme of Mental Health Day 2021 be our focus for life: Mental Health in an Unequal World.

THINK DIFFERENT – THINK WISE

Had man not thought to shelter himself from the vagaries of weather, he would not have built huts, cottages and houses.

Had man not thought of making locomotion easier, carts would not have come into existence.

Man is a thinking creature and hence is referred to as being a ‘higher order primate’ many a times.

Only sometimes does he act before thinking and hence, needs a reminder to THINK.

THINK was Apple’s very first tagline.

But then, not always is it sufficient to think. At times it is essential to THINK DIFFERENT.

Creative Thinking is a booming market where thinking out-of-the-box is encouraged, recognized and honoured. Most organizations have posts of Creative Manager, Creative Head and Creative Director. The task of such personnel is to take decisions that are new and novel, to troubleshoot problems using never-before-used strategies, to suggest ways and means of growth for the organization that would be a win-win amidst existing competition. Their task is to think differently.

Imagine, if Thomas Alva Edison would not have thought differently about the production of light! We would’ve probably never had our rooms illuminated by incandescent bulbs. What if Nick Holonyak wouldn’t have thought differently? We wouldn’t have had the shift from incandescent bulbs to LED lights lighting our homes today. Had Joni Eareckson Tada not thought differently after a diving accident left her a paraplegic, she probably wouldn’t have been the author, painter and motivational speaker that she is today!

Be it the innovations that we see around us and marvel in awe or the people who have risen from ashes and reached the upper echelons of success or those who overcame their broken lives and went on to spread their fragrance around – all of these are the outcomes of people who dared to THINK DIFFERENT and strived hard to make their thoughts bear fruits.

So then, are there a different class of people blessed with the ability to think different?

Its a firm NO.

Each of us has the ability to think different. Some have scope of expressing and experimenting their thoughts and so come into the limelight, while for many others, such thoughts get snuffed out before fruition. Some have their unique thoughts flowing out naturally and freely, whereas some others need to be trained and encouraged to let their creative thoughts flow out.

To what extent can one THINK DIFFERENT?

The reigns of the mind once let loose, can scale heights and depths of limitless dimensions. Should the mind be bridled? Or left to run scot free?

Probably the Creative Head of Apple would have thought on similar lines!

Apple’s new motto now reads – THINK DIFFERENT – BUT NOT TOO DIFFERENT.

Railway tracks confine a train’s wheels to run along its surface so that the train can reach its destination unhindered. One wheel out of the track, and you know what would happen.

While each of us have been blessed with enormous cognitive faculties to stretch them far and wide, there also need to be certain boundaries within the latitude of acceptance so that human civilization progresses without much tumult.

THINK about it.

THINK DIFFERENT.

THINK DIFFERENT – BUT NOT TOO DIFFERENT.

. . . if you wish to follow the footsteps of Apple.

FORTY WINKS TO BETTER PERFORMANCE

“To meet any eventuality and to ensure smooth management of relief and rescue operations which may arise out of flood-like situation due to the heavy rainfall occurred in this district, it is hereby ordered that all officers shall remain present in their respective headquarters including Sunday. Any absence will be viewed seriously and action such as deemed proper will be taken against the defaulting person.”

Orders such as these are not uncommon in my line of work. But, what made me smile on receiving this order two days before was the fact that just few minutes before receiving this order, I had seen a WhatsApp message to write on the topic – ‘REST’ for CandlesOnline. I had volunteered to write for Monday, thinking that I could write leisurely on Sunday. But, what an irony it turned out to be! Leave alone write an article, my rest day was gone! Though losing a day’s rest usually makes one cringe, in emergency situations the call of duty is supreme.

Emergencies emerge every now and then in each of our lives – a loved one suddenly taken ill, a road accident, an unexpected death in the family. These are exceptions requiring occasional adjustments in our schedules for temporary periods during which our rest gets affected. Our bodies adapt, accommodate and rebound without much effort in responses to situations such as these. However, continual deprivation of rest is a silent killer!

Rest (it includes sleep and relaxation) is an integral part of longevity. Research shows that people deprived of adequate rest have a reduced life span, score lower on the performance scale and aren’t able to sustain for long. Machines made to run for durations longer than their performance capacity, often break down. They then need oiling and repair before they start functioning again. Without repair, they simply rust and rot due to disuse.

We humans are so much more than mere machines!

While it is important to find rest times for ourselves, it is equally crucial to identify the need for rest in the people around us. A humanized world is rapidly getting mechanized in a widely expanding digitized world! So much so, that we are increasingly losing sensitivity to the need for rest and relaxation in ourselves and others.  

Heard of the boss who comes to office at mid-day while issuing a whip for his staff to reach office before working hours and makes them to stay on beyond official working hours? An insensitive boss! The rest-deprived employees then vent out their frustration before their families, thus creating an unhealthy environment of depression, fear, anxiety and continual friction. Insensitivity breeds insensitivity!

From of years old, we all have been used to seeing wives and mothers working day in and day out to care for their families. Taking care of sick children, helping in their studies, cooking as per the taste buds of the family members, dusting, cleaning, attending to guests and some even balancing a job alongside. No gender biases, but cultural stereotypes world-over mostly accord the household chores to females, and hence the division of labour. That’s beside the point, since this article is not about gender equality or stereotypes. Be it a man who is engaged in heaps of chores or a woman, each one needs adequate rest. It is not justice for one person to slog for hours together without resting, without any one else lending a helping hand.

Human capital is a rich resource. It contributes aplenty to economic development. Apart from skill and training, the other important factor in assessing and tapping on to valuable human capital is ‘efficiency’. Efficiency is in turn assessed by performance. Performance is directly impacted by rest or the lack of it. Do you see the sequence here? Rest and relaxation indirectly impact economic development big time.

An organization having overworked employees will be an under performer in the long run, compared to organizations offering adequate rest, relaxation and recreation times to employees. Yes, each of us need to be on the toes in a fast-paced world – be it students in their studies or adults at work and home. None of us wants a night’s slumber at the cost of falling behind. Yet, it is wise to let the body clock tick away gracefully rather than pave the way for the clock to leap before time. Recognising the need for adequate rest and unwinding, some work places have a scheduled time for power naps or relaxation avenues like gyms, cafeterias, etc.

Two quick take aways:

DIVIDE AND DELEGATE

You may be a person who can multitask efficiently. Still, identify people around to whom you can delegate some of your tasks. If you are a mother, delegate some tasks to your children. If you are a team leader, delegate tasks to your team members. If you are one of those meticulous perfectionists, who cannot rest in peace without micromanaging, work on yourself to let go of obsessive management and look for smart ways of management with optimum productivity. Use the time saved, for a siesta. A burnt out candle gives no light. It just leaves behind smoky remains. Divide and delegate tasks so that you can continue to glow and shine in the world.

SHARE AND CARE

Look around you for overworked people. It doesn’t mean that you go snooping into others houses, offices or even into other people’s lives. Start from your immediate surroundings. Start at home. Check with your relatives and your immediate community. Share responsibilities so that others get time to rest. Accept delegated tasks without a grumble or a murmur when you have spare time. Awaken the spirit of sensitivity and the sense of realization that people around you need adequate rest. Sharing of responsibilities is a vital indicator of caring for others.

We can contribute towards a healthier world with happier people if we learn to rest well and realize that others need to rest too.

A STORY OF VALOUR

A story of courage that I had read and heard in my childhood, has stayed with me over the years and continues to inspire me even today is the account of David and Goliath. Call it a slice from Israel’s history or a portion of literature, a shepherd boy without formal training in warfare or the weaponry daring to fight a well-equipped giant and defeating him has always been an awe inspiring narrative for me.

It was during one of those times when the Philistines used to attack Israel intermittently, that a giant from the Philistine side came out to openly threaten the Israelite army. It was quite natural for the valiant of all Israelite soldiers to quiver in fear at the sight of a well-equipped more than nine-feet tall giant. No one dared to venture out to face the champion of the Philistines because a defeat was imminent. Day after day the Philistine army led by Goliath continued to threaten the Israelite army. It was at this juncture that David, a shepherd boy who had gone to the Israelite army camp to enquire of the welfare of his brothers who were in the army, got to know the details of what was going on.

David dared to do a few things.

Firstly, David dared to take the decision to fight Goliath.

Secondly, David dared to go before the king and declare that he desired to face the enemy army whom the king’s warriors hadn’t been able to.

Thirdly, being a non-army man he was uncomfortable with the weapons of warfare and the attire that the king asked his men to equip David with and so dared to venture out to the war zone in his shepherd’s clothes.

Fourthly, dared to trust God to be his power-giver.

Finally, David dared to proclaim victory on the face of the giant even before fighting him.

This isn’t merely a story of exemplary courage. On the face of it, it may seem unwise or cowardly for an unarmed lay man to be daring enough to face an equipped army. But, what makes the difference here is the source of David’s courage. David’s courage did not arise from his extraordinary abilities or expertise at warfare or a profound sense of confidence or an adrenaline rush. But, his source of courage came from his deep faith in God who he knew would ensure him victory in this venture.

The account of David and Goliath is a constant reminder that no matter how tall the giants in our lives may be and no matter how ill-equipped to face those giants we may be, with God’s power, we can have the courage to put them flat on the ground and lead victorious lives.

HONEST LAPSES OF COURAGE DEMAND HONEST CONFESSIONS

The courage to be fully honest – tough one!

Much of what we do or refrain from doing is determined by the consequences involved. Having the courage to be fully honest comes in either of the two circumstances – when the consequence is so much your sole objective that you don’t mind the costs of being honest or when you don’t bother about the consequences at all.

In the year 2012, I got sick with dengue while my stay in Delhi. It had just been a couple of months since I had started working there along with pursuing other academic interests. Colleagues were worried since I didn’t have my family near me to take care of the sudden fluctuations in platelet counts. I was advised to have someone from home come over to be with me. “Platelet counts dip suddenly and people die. Don’t take the risk”, I was repeatedly told. However, I did not have the courage to break the news to my family members that I was sick. The daily phone conversations went pretty normal with me telling them that I was well and good. Why did I lack the courage to be honest with my family members regarding my health? I didn’t want them to be anxious for me from over the miles! “Families are meant to be anxious for their loved ones”, I was told. Eventually, I shared the piece of information with them after I got a little better with the assurance that I was completely out of danger.

There was a similar repeat of the above episode when I got infected with COVID-19 last year. My family members kept thinking for a week that I was probably getting too tired from work and hence was sounding exhausted, till I shared with them about having tested positive for COVID. Yet another instance of lacking the courage to be fully honest!

I would neither recommend anyone to do as I have done (since it involves immense risk to one’s life accompanied by the deep anxiety and regret of loved ones lest anything untoward happens), nor would I attempt to justify my lack of courage in being fully honest in the above situations. Rather, I would agree with the fact that there are instances in each of our lives in which we fail to muster the courage to be honest.

Does that make us cowards?

No. It simply defines us as having lacked courage to be honest in such and such situations.

Does that make us liars?

Yes. Anything other than the truth is a lie. There are no colours to lies!

Should there be a phase of owning up?

Definitely yes!

Yet another instance . . .

A granduncle of mine, grandaunt and their son were hospitalised in three different hospitals with COVID around two months back. Grandaunt passed away after a brief battle. With the granduncle and his son still in hospital requiring immense post-COVID care, the news of their loss hasn’t been shared with them yet. A lack of courage to be fully honest fearing the consequences! The news would be shared once they recover and reach back home. Till then, they would continue to think that she is alive.

I wouldn’t outrightly put such and other similar instances into a box with the label ‘lack of courage to be fully honest’. Rather, I would include situations such as these as ‘wisdom in decision-making to manage circumstances and get the best out of them for good’.

However, these do not in any way incorporate deliberate dishonesty or suppression of facts with malafide intentions.  

Honest confessions after sincere lapses of courage are must dos! Yes, God knows the heart. But, He hates deceptions!

VULNERABILITY GONE WRONG – VIII

Shaloween kept tossing and turning in bed for a long time before she finally fell asleep.

She woke feeling a bit relaxed yet quite disturbed. She looked at the Cuckoo-clock that hung on the wall in her hall. It was 7 A.M. – a little late than her usual waking time. However, she didn’t mind much. Just after she had finished her morning prayers, her phone rang. As she picked up the phone from the table to answer the call, she was perplexed to see the name of the caller. Shekhar Chandra it was!

A few seconds went by with the mobile still ringing in her hand before she took the call.

“Hello . . . Good morning, Sir”

“Very good morning . . . I hope you are awake or did I disturb your sleep?”, came the voice from the other end.

“I’m awake, Sir”, said Shaloween politely.

“That’s good! I need you to work out certain things before I reach office today. I will mail the details to the official email id so that you can access them”, said Shekhar Chandra as he went on to explain the nitty-gritties of the work before hanging up.

The urgency of work soon took over Shaloween as she rushed into her household chores in an attempt to leave home early that day.

“Shiva, I need piping hot ginger tea today . . . a lot of work . . . and my mind is in shambles”, she said to the office boy as she opened the door to her chamber.

“By the way, for how many days have the supervising officers been deputed to our office . . . any idea?”, she asked a seeming-to-know-all type subordinate who had just come in.

“They’ll be here for a couple of days more, probably. Earthquake assessment is almost over and with not much damage, there isn’t really a lot that they have to do here”, came the reply.

“C’mon, just focus on work Shaloween! Shed off your baggages . . . you have to perform for your office . . . Shekhar Chandra would leave . . . your work will stay . . . don’t let anything bother you”, Shaloween pepped herself as she started working.

It was a sultry day and with the air conditioning not working, Shaloween was sweating profusely as she worked. With no one in her chamber, she let her hair hang loose to the left side so as to let some breeze from the ceiling fan pass through the damp hair roots. She was so engrossed in work that she got startled when the door to her chamber was thrown wide open and in walked Shekhar Chandra.

She fumbled a “Good morning” as she hurriedly fixed her hair before he would get a chance to look at her properly.

“Is the report ready?”, asked Chandra matter-of-factly.

“Almost done, Sir”, replied Shaloween.

“Well, then I’ll wait in Mr. Sikdar’s room till you are done with it”, said Shekhar as he left the room with a bang of the door without much expression.

Shaloween heaved a sigh of relief. Alone in her room, she could focus better. The events of the last few days had been extremely unsettling for her.

“What do men think – single women are easily available for their perversions? Being single doesn’t make a woman an easy game for men to entertain themselves with. Doesn’t this fellow feel remorseful behaving the way he does? Huhh!!”, she had thought a while back in between the work.

Interactions with Shekhar Chandra had been purely official that morning. She thought to herself victoriously, “probably this fellow has realised that he cannot get his way through to me!”

It took two more hours for Shaloween to complete the task. She got up from her chair to show the report to Sikdar, Mahem and Chandra carrying her mobile and the pen drive with the data.

Walking her way along the corridor, she flipped open her mobile to view the unread messages. She hadn’t got the time to check any messages since the time she turned up to work that day.

“You look gorgeous with your hair open. I hope you won’t disappoint me!”

“Not again!”, yelped Shaloween in her mind as she stopped short of her steps, feeling weak in her legs.

That was a message from Shekhar Chandra.

VULNERABILITY GONE WRONG – I

It was one of the usual days at work for 33-year old Shaloween. A dedicated workaholic, she was engrossed in scrutinizing the pile of files before her on yet another hot May day. With not many performance parameters in public workspaces, she always felt her work to be less challenging. She was a go-getter and an eager learner with a hunger for achieving a lot. But, she had adapted to the work culture and had decided to give her best even if her work went unnoticed and unacknowledged.

A knock at the door made her look up from the files. The door opened. It was Rama, the office peon.

“Madam . . . Sir wants you in his chamber. Some higher officials have come to supervise the earthquake restoration works. Sir wants you there”, said Rama.

“I’m coming”, said Shaloween. She put her pen down, closed the files after carefully marking them with post-its and got up from her seat.

“Come Shalu”, said her superior officer Arvind Sikdar as she entered his chamber. How she hated it when someone shortened her name! But, by now everyone in the office referred to her as ‘Shalu Madam’. So, she had stopped correcting them.

Shaloween greeted the three men in the room and seated herself in a chair to which her superior gestured. She presumed from the appearance of the two other men in the room that they were probably the higher officials that Rama had referred to. They seemed to be in their mid-fifties. No introductions were made by anyone. Either it was assumed that each one in the room would be knowing the other’s rank and position, or it didn’t matter much to anyone. She set to work as Arvind Sikdar kept directing her, with the other men interjecting in between with their suggestions and proposals.

“So, Shalu where are you from?”, asked one of the officers after almost two hours had passed away. “Sir, Shalu is from Lojigarh – the same city as you belong to”, replied Arvind to Shekhar Chandra before Shaloween could answer. Shaloween nodded with a smile.

It was busy day with not much conversation beyond work in Arvind Sikdar’s chamber. Shekhar Chandra had given a few assignments for Shaloween to work on. The other officer, Ankur Mahem was passively present all through. Work dragged on till late evening, when all four of them got up to call it a day.

Exhausted from the day’s work, Shaloween skipped dinner that night and just threw herself on the bed and drifted off to sleep as soon as she had freshened up. She woke up around 3:30 A.M. and was unable to go back to sleep again.

“I might as well have an early start today. There’s anyway much to do at work. Boss should get a good name before the visiting officers. I need to perform well. They have entrusted so much responsibility on my shoulders. Probably, these senior officers would recognize my work too!”, thought Shaloween to herself as she sat up on her bed in the wee hours of the morning.

She reached office before anyone else did and started off where she had left the previous day. She called for some of her subordinates after a while and delegated certain tasks to them. After an hour, Shekhar Chandra and Ankur Mahem reached and assessed the work that they had assigned the day before. Shekhar seemed pleased with Shaloween’s work, much to her delight.

“Mr. Arvind, I am a good observer. In these two days, I have noticed that of all your staff here, Shalu is extremely sincere. As you know, a dedicated worker is often entrusted with more responsibilities. You could make use of officer Shalu’s dedication for many more works”, said Shekhar Chandra in the midst of all the work. It was a light moment, as both Shaloween and Arvind Sikdar smiled in acknowledgement.

Lunch break was just a formality. With a mountain load of work in front of her and a desire to make a mark with her competence, Shaloween took just fifteen minutes off to quickly gobble up some food and stretch her arms and legs a bit. She was back to her working desk in Arvind Sikdar’s chamber before the others could come in.

“We need the report on the number of casualties in an hour, Shalu. Start working on it immediately. Gather all the information and compile it”, said Arvind Sikdar as he entered the room after a while.

“Sir, I have been collecting information on this and we don’t have any casualties in our region as of now. I am yet to get information from three other sources, after which we can compile the data”, replied Shaloween. By then, Shekhar Chandra and Ankur Mahem had come in and gave Shaloween some indices to work on.

Soon it was evening and Shaloween excused herself out of Arvind Sikdar’s chamber to supervise the tasks that she had entrusted to some of her subordinates. After a while, her mobile beeped and she found a message from Shekhar Chandra –

“You look so different in office . . . for a moment I thought it is someone else.”

She was taken aback! Momentarily distracted, she was unable to comprehend what to reply.