A lesson in magnanimity

Posted: August 17, 2009 in blogging

Last week I connected with a former colleague from my days at the Maharashtra Herald.She was working at the copy desk when I was the Assistant Editor. Some time in the mid-1990s she quit and we lost touch. Then in 1998 I left Pune and when I returned almost eight years later, in mid-2005, I chanced upon an article written by her in a well known magazine, and the credits said she was Features Editor.

I was delighted to hear from her when she contacted me last week. To be honest, I never expected her to send me a message after so long. After she left Maharashtra Herald, she worked at a few other publications before she went abroad. There she worked as an Assistant Editor and then as an editor of a lifestyle magazine before taking a sabbatical to bring up her baby.

When I knew her over a decade ago, she was this unsure, nervous, girl who did her job quietly and efficiently, nothing flashy, just stuck to the basics. She was not part of the politics that is customary in any workplace and never complained to me about anything or anyone. She was learning, so was bound to make mistakes and like all greenhorns she made quite a few. Funny isn’t it, that when we make a mistake its “human” but when someone else does so, its incompetence?

Her seniors often complained to me about her work and thought she wasn’t good enough to be part of the copy desk. So one day I called her into my cabin, not knowing how to break the news that she had to go, because her seniors had again complained about her.

You’ll understand when I say that I “felt like shit”, because that’s the way I felt that day. I watched her crying as I told her. She pleaded with me to give her another chance and I could just as easily have accepted her pleas. But I didn’t. It’s something I’ve regretted since. When she left my cabin, dissolved in tears, I remember thinking to myself that this was the worst job in the world. I didn’t want to ever face this situation again.

Last week when I got a mail from her, anyone would have thought, I would be the last person she would want to contact. I was touched when she asked me if I remembered her. I told her, how I had felt then and it was something I had never forgotten or forgiven myself for. She told me to forget about it, because she held no grudge and that she was happy for me. She said what had happened to her was for the best, because if she had remained there, she would have never reached where she was today!

I have had no regrets about most things I’ve done in my career, but this was one of those incidents that always played on my conscience…until last week – when I was given a lesson in humility and magnanimity.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Karma is a dancer, who is always two steps ahead of you. Just follow if you can't figure out the steps like most of us. Nandu

  2. Anonymous says:

    Magnanimous of you to acknowledge this. It takes a lot of courage to recognise and forgive ourselves. Vineeta

  3. Zubin says:

    Generally the first reaction is anger and frustration – I guess if there is feeling – its on both sides. Most often the people who fire you hide behind the scenes with double agendas (ask me).When the matter cools off – in most cases, its for the better good (ask me again).

  4. Richa Taneja says:

    "Funny, isn't it, That when we make a mistake its “human” but when someone else does so, its incompetence?"This is the best line of your blog.After reading this, I feel extremely happy for that girl. 🙂 Everything in life happens for a reason.. we might not realise it then but when we reflect back, we know why it happened.Richa Taneja.

  5. Joe Pinto says:

    My dear Sinha,Thank you for sharing this humbling experience in a straight-forward way. I am glad you have NOT embellished the incident with too many adjectives and adverbs.You are lucky, your colleague got in touch with you, despite her unpleasant experience. You should make the most of it and not lose the opportunity of keeping a genuine friend.A person who forgives you is rare. And a junior colleague who forgives you and wants to keep in touch with you, after a long absence, is even rarer. Please convey to her my sincere appreciation for her courage to forgive.Peace and love,- Joe.

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