Well, for starters, this is a fair bit earlier than I thought.
Looking at the exuberance and gala that I was born into, I would have never fathomed that someday I would be penning my swan song, worse still, after just 21 years.
But that is the beauty of life; the unpredictability. That’s why we cherish it.
When I think about my life, everything seems like yesterday.
Born in 1995 as ABN AMRO Bank, Madras….living on a street, famous at that time for its number of banks – Haddows Road, in a city that was much more traditional and far less cosmopolitan than the Chennai of today. My small enthusiastic brood identified with me and loved the fact that they were my children. We lived a simple and idyllic life.
1999, the year I took in the children of Bank of America (BoA).
We were diametric opposites, culturally. If ABN AMRO was about keeping things small, beautiful and conservative, BoA stood for all things American – make it large, at double the speed and while you’re at it, look awesome.
It never would have crossed my mind at that time that this union would go on to shake the banking world in India and become one of the most respected and admired organisations of its time.
2007, the year my family elders found me a suitor – the ‘strapping’ Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) – a new and exotic name in India at that time, but a renowned name in global banking circles. What was really wonderful about this match was that all my children were equally welcome. Same family with a different name, except that now we were Brits!
2008 – The worst financial crisis known to this generation rained its blows, unabated. Corporate giants were brought to their knees. Client portfolios were pounded to pulp.
What a turbulent time it was for me and my children. And, to make it worse, we were back to suitor hunting.
Fortunately for us, before it was too late, we found a worthy match. Everything seemed to fall in place. The lineage, the social standing, the presence, the wealth…it was all there, and before you could say “HSBC”, the pre-nups were being signed. If all went well, my children wouldn’t have to worry about their livelihood or their clientele.
Not in our wildest dreams would we have thought that this was the beginning of the end. It was.
For reasons beyond our control, the engagement had to be broken-off. The crescendo which had built up over 2 years, disappeared overnight, into a whimper. No matter how hard we tried to rebuild after that, destiny had already charted our course.
It’s a strange feeling, when you get to know beforehand, what date would be the last of your life.
Personally, I started off vacillating between anger and panic. Questions abounded – How could I be destined to this short a life? How could I have so meek an end? What about my children? Whose fault is it? And so on and so forth. However, with the passing of time, my clouded judgments have faded away, only to be replaced by a single feeling – thankfulness.
There’s a famous quote which goes – It’s not how long you’ve lived, but, how well you’ve lived.
Well, ‘well’ is an understatement!
I know I’m going to be missed terribly by all who are close to me, and I’m thankful that I could make such an impact on their lives. I’m also thankful for the hundreds of milestones my family and I celebrated with such pomp and show. For the image I have built and the respect I command among my peers. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to be of such service to my clients that they can’t imagine life without me.
However, what I’m most thankful for are the actual stars of my life – my Children.
And what children I’ve had! The kind that mothers pray for. The best any mother could hope for. Different in personalities, maybe, but united in their sense of belongingness to me. Today, unlike what I had mentioned in the beginning of this chronicle, it is I, who is identified by my children and not the other way around.
To my children, I say this – no mother could have been more proud of her children than I’m of you today. No mother-child relationship could build as strong a bond as you and I have. While I will not be around for very long, I know I will live in your thoughts, heart and résumés, forever.
Always remember, we earned our good name and respect from the world because of our impeccable way of treating our clients, and that was a direct result of the way we treated our own family.
Never change that.
I will remain, always yours.
This one was an introductory piece that I had ‘ghostwritten’ in July 2016, for the employees’ legacy book, from the viewpoint of my workplace for over a decade: the-soon-to-be-closed, ABN AMRO/ RBS – Chennai branch.
In reality, it reflects a lot of my own reminiscing, my feelings of pride and loss.