Mission Delhi - Jasbir Chatterjee, Vikaspuri

Mission Delhi – Jasbir Chatterjee, Vikaspuri

Mission Delhi - Jasbir Chatterjee, Vikaspuri

One of the one percent in 13 million.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Jasbir Chatterjee, 54, was working as a customer relations manager in a car dealership until recently — until the day before Diwali, actually, when she was told that her “services are no longer required.” In a WhatsApp video chat from her home in west Delhi’s Vikaspuri, she tells The Delhi Walla what it is like to lose a job in these tough times.

How did you feel on losing a job, that too a day before Diwali?

I was so benumbed that I didn’t think of Diwali at all when it happened. Later at home, I looked at the Diwali photos that my colleagues (I still can’t bring myself to call them ex-colleagues) had put on Facebook. Some of them called me and I fought back my tears to speak to them in a normal fashion.

How important is a dayjob to you?

It compels me to take care of myself, to look good, and the same feeling then pervades everything else I do — cooking, gardening, poetry writing, reading, etc. I like to have a fixed routine. As it happens, I also earn the most in my household. My husband, Sukhangshu, is a professional actor and he’s hardly getting any work these days, so it is important for me to earn and save money for our rainy days.

What did you do once you were told you were being relieved?

I walked out with my head high. I initially did wish I could sit somewhere to let the tears fall from my moist eyes. But that’s a luxury I stopped giving myself after my mother’s death in 2017. I instead told a colleague about what had happened, and asked her to let me know if she heard of vacancies elsewhere. I must confess here that once I was alone outside, my face mask helped me to conceal my distraught condition. I didn’t want to speak to anyone.

How was the journey home from the office, that last time?

On walking out from the office’s Lajpat Nagar branch, I saw a DTC bus stopping by. It was going to Nehru Place. These days, the Delhi government gives free bus rides to women, and from then on it seemed important to save as much as I could. So I hopped in. I usually go by metro, but metro train rides are costlier than before. I was pleasantly surprised to find the bus air-conditioned. After arriving at Nehru Place, I caught another DTC bus (no. 724) going directly to my locality. I decided to enjoy the long ride. This time there was no hurry to reach anywhere. Loud Haryanvi folk songs were playing on the music system. They brought a smile to my masked face. The songs reminded me of my college days and of movie dates with Sukhangshu in my first job. There is so much more to life, after all, than just money, I reminded myself. After having lunch at home with my husband and my daughter, Suroshri, I went to sleep. It gave me a lot of relief.

What will happen next?

I will look for a new job and be suitably employed again. Meantime, I have plans to meet all the friends and relatives I hadn’t met for long due to my busy schedule.

[This is the 378th portrait of Mission Delhi project]