He stared at his business book with almost wet eyes and the events just ten minutes ago reduced his hopes to imaginary ghost memories. His business plan had proved him incompetent and his main competitor had won the spot. To him, it was all clear that favoritism was at play but there was nothing he could do.
He was used to it, but he was not ready to be the declared scapegoat to unfair treatment. He was 28 already and his mother was already applying enough pressure to break him apart. She wanted him to have a family and her constant requests had turned to nags. This was his portal to a better life and it had just got shut by a greater hand that he couldn’t battle even if he wanted to.
Ken had been born in a not-so-rich family almost three decades ago. Luxury was occasional but basic needs were always provided. In short, he had a comfortable childhood under his father’s roof. However, things changed in his second year in college. The family business went down and their savings had been spent on his father’s treatment. To lift the burden off the old folk he dropped out of college despite his mother’s constant reminder that everything would be fine. They wouldn’t, they both knew. With multiple debts and hid father staring at death, he had no option.
There was no turning back. His back was darker anyway, and recently he had started seeing light at the end of the tunnel only to be hit off the rails. His previous attempts to get a job had always landed him in unpaid internships and lowly paid jobs in which he had been overworked, He had been patient, believing that a bright future was constructed in dark alleys with heavy burdens that would teach him to carry the light pleasures that would come as an end result. However, each burden proved heavier than the former and age was catching up with him. Under the law he was still a youth but his bones said otherwise. His lungs complained of filtering cement dust and spray paint. He was still a slave to his own self.
His bitter life had got him friends in the same dungeon he called life. He knew their problems and that was what he was going to solve with his waste management business plan. He did not have a capital, and had worked and talked smart to get a chance to present it in an innovation summit. Getting a slot alone was a hustle and he would not accept defeat. Never. He had moved up the stages till the finals. They were two contestants. Ken with his waste management plan and Mark with a pet care business plan. They were social classes apart and targeted separate financial classes. Too bad for Ken that his class could not make it to the panel. He was staring at unfair judgement but he still hoped that luck would not evade him like before.
He lost at the finals. There was a fixed prize which would have been shared between the winner and the first runners up had the pet business required a smaller capital. He, therefore, was left with his sorrows and comforting comments from the judges who promised him that his plan would surely get a willing investor because of its authenticity. What was hard for him to comprehend was the criteria used to decide the winner if not authenticity. With nothing else to do, he found little solace in the visitor chairs outside.
He was so drowned in his thoughts that he did not feel the gentle tap on his shoulder until it grew to a sore hit. He looked up with a weak protest but kept it to himself when he recognized the face in front of him. It was Cherry, one of the judges. He was disappointed with them. Yes, but he had always noticed an occasional smile on her face when he was strangled with shooting questions from the other two judges.
“Come with me”, was all she said and he had no option but to follow.