A-L-A-R-M-S of Recession


Recession has hit everybody – in a big way or small, only the measure differs.

The job market is badly hit. There are retrenchments, salary cuts, freeze on new recruitments and much more. In this ‘state’, employers have become demigods. They are retaining only those employees who are in the ‘core’ and the company can’t do without them. While those on the periphery are mercilessly shown the door…

In such a demanding situation, you need to first keep your job. But no matter how hard you grind and slog, there are fears! Fears of uncertainties, fears of losing your job...

'Alarms of Recession' – is inspired by my own experiences in Kuwait.

gasper crasto
Kuwait, 26th October 2010

It was raining with biblical fury.

I was wet as a drowned rat walking across from the car park to the entrance of our building. With the laptop in one hand like a medical rep carrying his brief case, with the other, I unfastened the tie from strangulating my neck. Steps of water-marks trailed me to the 'lift' and right upto the apartment.

I keyed the door open, and putting up a plastic smile on my distraught face, entered.

She giggled as she approached me like a cat from nowhere. I thought she was going to whisper 'sweet nothings' in my ear, as usual, which I was in no mood to hear. I pulled her to me instead and held her tight in my arms, softly kicking the door shut behind me.

She felt oddly dazzled by the spontaneity of my gesture. The water from my rain soaked shirt wet her dress, and when she pulled away, she looked like someone had directed a full force of the garden hose at her chest.

“I am sorry,” I said, “I...”

“It’s okay..” she giggled again, “the storm.., ..must be awful driving out there in this weather.. such thick, cold rains, and thunder, and the winds.. ..strong enough to blow away buildings.. .Thank god you are home safe...”

I put my wallet to dry, there was nothing much in it to be dried anyway. Next, I had a warm shower, and changed. I sang some nonsense all along.

Within moments she emerged from the kitchen carrying steaming cups of tea, and toast.

“You seem to be a bundle of life this evening,” she said, "Your voice sounds funny; what happened?"


"Something's wrong. Why don't you ever tell me when something's wrong?"

"There's nothing," I tried my best to evade her inquisitive eyes.

"You never tell me what's going on; when you think I'll worry about something you keep it to yourself."

"Well, I tell you everything."


“Well, things happen you don’t plan,” I said dumping the towel on a chair.

“Like.. ..” She gazed at me.

I didn’t know what to say further. Even then, I was amazed I could keep up the smile.

“I can’t make head or tail of what you’re driving at....what in the world happened?” she was eager to know.

I contemplated, sipped my tea, and reflected some more. “Nothing much. I thought I was going to tell ma first.”

“Tell ma first, what.?” She was impatient.

I stared at the TV, she stared at me with her big, fat eyes.

“I lost my job,” I said.

She was stunned. I knew it was a devastating statement, I was afraid she would howl and tear her hair, but nothing of that sort happened. Perhaps she figured out it was wise to keep her cool. She simply moved her gaze off me and stirred her tea gently.

She knew I was not kidding.

I rubbed my forehead with my thumb and forefinger. “You see it was everyone, really – almost everyone. Last week our company lost a multi-million contract despite being L-1. They were banking heavily on to that, you know. ..Anyway, in my worst-case scenario I imagined a pay cut or even a transfer to our other division. Turns out, my fears hadn’t even been close to the actual nightmare that unfolded.”

She shifted her eyes to the TV, but I could see that she was not really watching.

“We shall let go of this apartment and find a smaller place to live in somewhere, first thing.. okay?” I said.

“I don’t think we have to worry about that right away,” she said. The tone was tinged with derision. Or was it bitterness? Tears had welled up in her eyes. Her mature audacity gave way to childlike insecurity. She picked up her cup and took a long sip.

“This group of executives from the HR department started calling people into the manager’s chamber, and one by one they’re going in: Abby, Melvin, Manju, etc..”

“Manju? Her kid is fighting blood cancer! This is awful.”

For the honesty of it, I wouldn’t give a damn if a plane should crash down our building. I was tortured by my own condition than to be bothered about others at the moment. Perhaps it was only human?

“It was everybody, but you’re not going to worry,” I said trying to put her at ease.

She leaned over and took my hand, and inadvertently kissed my fingers - maybe with compassion.

“To tell you the truth, I have no idea how I am taking it. I think I am in a shock,” I squeezed her hand reassuringly. “We shall figure this out, we have figured out plenty of things before...”

Later, I sat to watch TV while she took to the kitchen to cook. Soon it was time for prayers and food. No sooner, the dinner was done I re-positioned myself on the sofa senselessly switching from channel to channel.

11.00 pm.

I was still watching TV when she commanded her customary creed with her sweet tone, “Could you please swab the bowls and do away the trash?”

“It’s getting late. I think I’ll go to bed,” I said lazing towards the bathroom. I took up the brush and squeezed toothpaste on it.

Somehow, all through my stressful thoughts, I trod like a proud lion as I brushed.

She was still in the kitchen making sandwiches for the next day’s lunches. She rinsed out the plates, put spoons and bowls in place in the rack, took meat out of the freezer for the following evening, and checked the sugar container.

She then put some clothes on the dryer, put another load into the washer, ironed a shirt and secured a loose button. She picked up the game pieces left on the table and put the telephone book back into the drawer. She watered the plants, emptied a wastebasket from the sitting room and hung up my towel to dry.

After a while, she yawned and stretched and headed for the bedroom.

She stopped by the desk and wrote a note, counted out some cash, and pulled a book out from hiding under the chair.

I went across the hall, and bluntly switched off the computer plug instead of hanging around to shut it down.

Meanwhile, she wrote a quick note for the grocery store, moved across and pasted the postscript on the 'fridge'. She then washed her face with 3 in 1 cleanser, put on her night solution and moisturizer, brushed and flossed her teeth and filed her nails.

I stood and gazed at the TV vacantly; my mind as blank as a double blind.

She called out, “I thought you were going to bed.”

“Am on my way,” I replied.

She then made sure the main door was locked, laid out clothing for the next day, straightened up the shoe rack, threw some dirty socks into the hamper and added three things to her 3 most important things to do list.

Later, she stood in front of the crucifix and eyed the lone candle burning there. The candle looked beautiful, bright and full of promise while she murmured something, and perhaps visualized the accomplishment of her goals.

About that time, I turned off the TV and announced to no one in particular. “I am off to bed.” And I did, without another thought. Just before hitting the sack I set the alarm on, and twice made sure it was truly on.

Panic had gradually overtaken the optimism of the evening. I found myself staring up straight at the ceiling, lying there with ants in my pants; my eyes dilated wide, fists closed so tight that my knuckles appeared a bloodless white under the shaded lamp.

“Are you okay?” she asked as she crept into bed. She rolled the lamp’s dimmer low, made the sign of the cross in all directions around the bed and on the pillow, and kissed me ‘goodnight’.

“We are in big, big trouble,” I whispered. “I have to find a job fast.”

“You’ll find a job,” she said, trying to comfort both of us. She put a hand on my knuckles. “You need to relax. Take some time; think about yourself for a change. When you’re ready, there’s going to be a great job for you.”

Her gaze finally settled on my perturbed face. She looked at me tenderly, until I realized she was not being superficial in her words or actions.

We lay there beside each other, not talking about ourselves, not talking about life. Finally, we rolled towards each other and kissed, sweetly, chastely. No matter what happened, there was always that kiss at the end of the day, and I wondered what it would be like, to go to sleep without it.

When I woke up, it was four o’clock in the morning, but I knew I was finished sleeping for the night. I watched her in the multihued light of the lamp. She looked like Venus, the Roman goddess of beauty that I had seen so many times in magazines or internet. She was so beautiful that I couldn't resist myself looking and looking at her.

The hours ticked by.

I sat down in bed, pulled the curtains aside to peek outside at the day breaking. The sky was still clouded and it had started to sprinkle. When I was about to slip back beneath the covers, I knew I had woken her awake. She was fully conscious and staring at me with those big, fat eyes.

Slowly, she laid her head on my chest, slipped one hand across on my shoulder, and sighed. I kissed her head and for a moment I had the distinct feeling that the mood in the bedroom was about to shift, but then the phone rang.

“What if they changed their mind!” she exclaimed immediately, sitting up on the bed upright.

“Whoever it was, was calling too early.” I thought reaching for the phone. But it went off just as I was about to pick it up.

“Get up before it rings again.” I heard her yell.

“Let me sleep a while.. it’s raining....” I mumbled.

“What..!. Oh yeah,,, Raining..!.. .. Fine rain.. like the misty dew.. .. Isn't it???? You feel it?”

“Yeah.. yeah.. fine r-a-i-n-s..” I rubbed my face, a voice inside my head was still debating. Then I opened my eyes. She was holding the ironing spray-on over my face.

“Aren’t you working today?.... Come on, we'll be late.. Quick..., I’ll iron your shirt..come on, come on..” she sprayed on my face.

“No-o-o.. .. stop it.. .”

“Why you keep setting your alarm if you’re not going to get up when it goes off?” her voice was now as clear as the day.

“Can’t you see I am awake.. .. and alive..Praise God.. .. What time is it?”

The alarm went off again. Louder than before. I jumped off the bed bubbling with life -- undaunted by the eerie sense of déjà-vu, unalarmed by the uncertainties of another day.

:::Postscript:::All stories are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist, except in the mind of the writer.

Another story Click: Breaking News: An amazing achievement!

:::My dearest esparansa:::

Newer Post Older Post Home