The con­sol­ida­tors

The Smart Manager - - Reading Room - By prince mathews thomas

The com­pany’s growth left a big im­pres­sion on Lalit’s son. From the time he was in school, and even be­fore he had en­tered his teens, Ab­hishek was sure of what he wanted to be­come when he grew up. At school, teach­ers would of­ten ask stu­dents this in­evitable ques­tion, as to what they wanted to be­come. Most of them would give pre­dictable an­swers—doc­tor, en­gi­neer, sci­en­tist…’But I was clear that I wanted to be in busi­ness, and that too in the liquor in­dus­try. It has been a pas­sion since then,’ says Ab­hishek.

The youngest of three chil­dren, Ab­hishek was dif­fer­ent from his si­b­lings. There is an anec­dote that the fam­ily of­ten nar­rates for a good laugh, and which also un­der­lines Ab­hishek’s per­son­al­ity.

It was when the chil­dren were in school. Shailja, three years older to Ab­hishek, was al­ways a ner­vous wreck dur­ing the week of ex­ams. Of­ten she would com­plain of a stom­ach ache and cry her way to school. Her brother, on the other hand, al­ways played it cool. The night be­fore ex­ams, while the oth­ers would be busy re­vis­ing their lessons, Ab­hishek would watch a movie.

This one time, though, when it was exam time, Ab­hishek asked his sis­ter to watch a movie too, telling her she could re­lax and have a clear mind for her ex­ams the next day. Shailja fol­lowed his ad­vice. And she failed that exam. Ab­hishek, as usual, was among the top three in his class. Dur­ing his tenth stan­dard board ex­ams, Ab­hishek was very much the cool, colour­ful chap, go­ing for a Sa­man­tha Fox con­cert in Delhi a day be­fore he was to sit for one of the papers.

At school, he was no­to­ri­ous for his back-bencher an­tics. But the teach­ers would sel­dom pun­ish him be­cause he was also among the top­pers.

He was in the ninth stan­dard when his fa­ther asked him to study hard enough to be the topper. He did, and stood first in his class. But he told his fa­ther, ‘Dad, you wanted me to come first. I have come first. But com­ing first is dif­fer­ent from be­ing sec­ond or third. If it’s about the sec­ond or third place, I get time to do other things I’m in­ter­ested in. So please let me be like this.’ Lalit agreed, and replied, ‘See, I don’t ex­pect you to look for a job some­where else. So you go on with your ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties. I will be happy if you are in the top three.’

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