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Antiwork Anthem 2021

By Manasee Karandikar

They said don't waste your potential

On a forced deferential.

But building a palisade

Takes a decade of time

Earning a dime.

It's been a while copy pasting a smile

Facing disputes over unpaid tributes.

Temporary frays cut both ways.

Business As Usual at End Of Day

Jury's out. Only one rule in the book.

When work's official, cultivate corporate look.

Tick Tock Tick Tock, ten thirty on the clock

Stale, black coffee, not a piece of cake

Or a daytime stroll for a cigarette break

Shadows lurk and we're back to work.

Please be kind & set up a meeting.

Too much on my mind to decide the seating.

Suspend sound logic, collect proofs up to date.

Make haste, fix errors and compensate.

File all documents and dread the audit

Obfuscate the record and earn a plaudit.

Create a diversion with client conversion.

Greenwash projections over investor concerns.

Iron that crease and try to appease.

Don't act bored in a Covid hiring freeze.

Go get a medal with stories to peddle.

Your number crunch really packs a punch

So thanks a bunch and what's for lunch?

Facing the blows, tilling with hoes

Rejecting nos, an old school boys network grows

Under the gaze of the afternoon haze,

A post-meal break for vitamin D's sake.

Employee engagement, management degree.

Devotee appeasement, prohibited to flee.

Mental maths of a life in doldrums

Paltry sums for predicting outcomes

No time for personal finance

Perform or perish the underling dance.

Hail! Beseech thy Tribal Overlord,

Resolve the discord and sign the accord

Callous disregard for right or wrong.

The Master's prong can shelter us for long.

Gather the cronies, round up the bums.

Let's ride some ponies, we are all chums.

Poor, old rich boys vying for dad's attention

Devising ploys for an annual retention

Prancing about for a word of praise

Hanging around to enter a new maze

Waiting, watching, to be granted the key

It's all quite well for the right pedigree.

Three already. Time to get ready

For an afternoon ritual that's become habitual.

Bring tea on a tray. Together let's pray

That we don't have to pay for a maniac's foray.

A plan to make for credit to steal.

A story to bake and crisis to conceal.

The hardcore abiders invite you for sure,

To buy some snacks at a quarter past 4.

Talk about leadership and teatime gossip.

Tell me what happened

Why is your name blackened?

Did your words rattle the broken crown?

Did someone tattle, declare you the clown

Fix another shackle and leave you to drown.

Prepare for a live

Rating nose dive

At a quarter past five.

A quarter past five

When the Clock Watchers leave

And Time Keepers grieve.

Melancholic Workaholics.

No fun or frolic.

Avoid heavy traffic

And emotional strife.

Hiding from life

And maybe a wife.

Bite more than chew, priorities askew.

Hungry and angry, running berserk

Fed up with HR policy, dying of overwork.

Work is worship, they all agree

Rowing a slave ship

Loyalists with a degree.

Looking gritty,

Night watchmen pity

A work horse's gait.

Lot on the plate,

So I'm going to be late.

The AC shuts down at six,

Now we're in a real fix.

It's only a half past eight

Come on, let's work and suffocate.

Note: This poem is dedicated to the people I saw dying at work much before and during the Covid-19 pandemic. They all had a purpose to serve in someone's life. A young mother. A daughter to old parents. A jovial son with a bright future ahead of him. A father to adolescent daughters with a dependent wife. He was a guiding light everyone looked up to with respect and admiration. There were many others who I only heard of or read on company notice boards and newspaper headlines. They all died suddenly with little or no short notice.

I acknowledge and mourn their needless deaths. Time and again, they all chose to work endless hours out of fear or due to an obsession with perfection. They targeted short term results for a word of praise, good ratings, a salary and bonus. But, life insurance, gratuity, PF balance and financial aid cannot make up for quiet moments spent at leisure pursuing a favourite hobby or laughter shared with loved ones. Mediclaim can't bring back lost health. Fuel claims don't plan road trips on their own. Workplace accolades can't be traded for a good night's sleep.

I wish peace and love to their family and friends. May they be able to forgive and move on. I implore everyone to actively preserve their health, hobbies and dreams. To spend time with themselves and consider their own happiness the top priority for once in life. To aggressively educate themselves on financial independence. Compounding is an ignored wonder of the world. Sadly enough, it was not taught in schools but is now freely available online.

Life is worth living freely doing the things you like. Without targets and shifting deadlines, neither caged in a concrete box nor shouting at a computer screen.

By Manasee Karandikar

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