• Soumna Nema

Downsizing Lives

Updated: 4 days ago

Staying home saves lives... or does it?

Rahul worked in the R&D department of a company that manufactured parts of engines for cars, trucks, and buses. As a child, he thought, becoming an engineer should entitle him to at least a 6 figure salary, with or without some added benefits. That is the dream of any aspiring engineer there ever was and ever will be. But the reality wasn't exactly how he had hoped it would be. He didn't make a lot of money or have a lot of company-provided perks come with his job, but he had a happy and satisfying life. He had a wife, two lovely children, and a beautiful home where he and his family felt safe.


The only unhappy thing about his life was that his 13-year-old son had leukemia.


Despite the adversities he faced, he was an honest, hard-working man who wasn't paid enough but did manage to have savings for his family's future. Even in the COVID-19 pandemic his wife (who had lost her management job at the local restaurant) and he had been successfully managing to make both ends meet. Rahul worked from home.


But on May 22, 2020, Rahul's boss e-mailed him: "Dear Rahul Saini, I regret to inform you that you are being laid off from your position as Design Engineer effective May 24, 2020. This layoff should be considered permanent and it is being put into effect due to circumstances prompted by the ongoing pandemic...."



TWO DAYS?!


Weren't companies supposed to inform employees at least a month in advance before a layoff?! And it wasn't just him, as he later found out. More than 200 employees had been laid off by his company that week. He was traumatized.


It was unfair. Both he and his wife are honest, hardworking people who do good work and live their lives by making the best of every situation they face.


But now he was helpless. They were both helpless. And to him, it seemed like it was his fault that he wasn't good enough for the company to keep him on. He was not good enough as a husband. He was not good enough as a father.


It was unfair.


He thought of his children. He has a 13-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter. How was he supposed to pay for his son's treatment? How was he supposed to pay for his daughter to go to college next year with no savings left? How was he supposed to provide for his family with no money? 



He was devastated. He didn't even know how to tell his wife. Even though his dreams never really came true, he was a happy man. He loves his wife and children and they are enough for him. But is he enough for them? They are his world. What is the meaning of his existence now that he is almost incapable and insufficient to provide for them? That was the one thing he was supposed to do right. What will happen to his son now? Will he be able to help him fight cancer? Will he be able to give his daughter a future brighter than his own? Will his wife lose faith in him? 


He couldn't help but think... was is it his fault?


He didn't know what to do...


For someone in his situation, how could he get out of the quicksand he was in? Was there any way out of it?

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