The auditorium with a seating capacity of four thousand attendees, located at the 18th floor of the India bulls sky Jungle, was occupied upto the last seat, mostly by the investors of the Ayesha Industries, eagerly waiting for the arrival of the MD and chairperson Miss Ayesha Siddique, the room was filled with friendly chatters of the attendees which include, apart form investors, journalists along with some of the top ranking employees and board members of the company, SEBI officials and officials of the state and central ministry of finance.
Chatter kept growing louder and then came the moment every one was waiting for, there was an absolute silence in the auditorium for a few seconds, only to be shattered by the sounds of camera shutters, every one rose to welcome the charismatic tycoon and the poster girl of women empowerment in the country, Aaisha Siddique with an applause, she stood at the entrance for few seconds, glanced at the packed auditorium and then started walking towards the podium.
Ayesha was unlike any other business tycoon, at 38 she looked no more than 26 or 27, figure of an athlete, 5 feet 8 inches tall, pair of beautiful black eyes, sharp nose, thin lips, dusky complexion, sharp features, her personality was extremely over whelming. She was a rags to riches story unlike any other, because of her lineage and her meteoric rise from a girl of impoverished background who couldn’t even afford the very basis education, to the tycoon who’s company is valued at around 10 Billion dollars, is loved by both the elite and the underprivileged.
She stepped on to the podium and sat on the boss chair placed at number 4 in the line of 7 chairs, six of the board members took there respective seats later, she glanced at all the board members with a smile, and then she turned on the mike placed on the table facing her.
“I want to thank all of you, for your valuable support and faith in Ayesha Industries, and we all are committed to deliver and excel on your expectations” Ayesha started the annual meet, in the meeting she spoke at length about the performance of the company in the previous year and announced her plans for the current financial year, the attendees were overjoyed to hear the aggressive expansion and CAPEX plan for the current FY and multifold growth projections.
Then came the QnA session, for which many investors and journalists were waiting for, wide range of questions ranging from outlook on textile industry, conduciveness of government policies, socio-economic situation of the country to the climate change and the upcoming US elections, were asked and as usual they got extremely satisfying and insightful replies from the MD.
After three hours, the marathon session came to an end, all the questions, no matter how irrelevant, were answered and as there were no further questions left, Ayesha rose from her chair, followed by all the board members and all the attendees, and started walking down from the podium towards the exit, the applause followed till she entered the lift and the doors of the lift were closed.
Ayesha took out her phone and unlocked it, it was filled with hundreds of unread what’s app messages , she opened the message of the contact named “Jurno Tanvi”, it read “Mam waiting for you in the parking” “coming ” replied Ayesha. Doors of the lift opened as it reached the basement, Ayesha came out of the lift along with her security guards and board members, she exchanged pleasantries with them as her Range Rover approached, she noticed a girl approaching her, “Good evening Ma’am, Tanvi from National Guardian” said the girl chirpily and extended her hand towards Ayesha for a hands shake, Ayesha reciprocated, “please come in” said Ayesha as she entered and sat on the back seta of her Range Rover, Tanvi followed, as the two ladies sat in the car, it started and came out of the parking lot on to the main road, adjacent to the India Bulls sky jungle.
“Mam, I am so excited to meet you today, I am big fan of yours”, said Tanvi seemingly excited, “I am so honoured to be chosen as the writer of your biography” she continued, Ayesha smiled while checking her phone, not looking at Tanvi, “wait for a while Tanvi, let me finish some urgent work” said Ayesha, typing something on her phone, Tanvi waited in anticipation of a response, about 15 minutes later the driver asked “Mam where should we go” “take us to the Angeles” replied Ayesha, driver nodded and then turned the car left, they were now on a narrow and curvy lane, the driver had slowed the car as the rode ahead was quite narrow, the road ended about a kilometre ahead at a large arched iron gate, with a big sign board “Fatima’s home for angles” car stopped at the gate, driver blew the horn and the gates opened automatically, and closed as it entered , it was a very large establishment, spread in acres and looking at its proximity to Mumbai, it must be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, thought Tanvi.
“This is my mother’s dream Tanvi” said Ayesha, Tanvi fully conscious and attentive, responded with a sincere smile, there were a series of rectangular buildings separated from each other by few meters, the space between them was covered by lawn and series of plantations, and then there was a large cylindrical building about 10 story tall, covered with diamond shaped reflecting violet coloured glasses placed in perfect symmetry, giving an illusion to the viewer as if the building is constantly revolving, the building was an aberration to the otherwise low-key structures spread across the premises.
That is FHA “Fatima’s home for Angeles”, we have built one of the most advanced paediatric hospital here, do you see that building, Ayesha pointed towards a 7 storied rectangular building, and behind that building you see that cylindrical building that’s the school and it has one of the best faculties in the country with best in class labs, and library for my angels, behind the school building we have a sports complex, followed by recreation facility with theatre, restaurant and a small amusement park, Tanvi was awestruck to see the infrastructure of that place, it took them about half an hour to reach Ayesha’s office, the building titled administrative block, a relatively sober building.
As the car stopped outside the administrative block, two guards rushed to open the gates of the car for Ayesha and Tanvi, Tanvi followed Ayesha as she entered her office, the office was quite large and airy but it wasn’t very “modern”, it rather had a very vintage appeal, antique paintings on the walls of the room, not a single screen apart from Ayesha’s MacBook placed on the large wooden desk at the far end of the room, in the middle of room there were two sofas facing each other and separated by a beautiful teek wood table, placed adjacent to the wall under a pair of small windows.
“Have a seat”, asked Ayesha, both of them sat on either sofas, Tanvi took the recorder out of her bag, “no recorder please” instructed Ayesha, Tanvi hesitated for a second, but then she put the recorder back in her bag and took out her writing pad and pen, “ok so shall we begin” asked Tanvi, “from where do you want me to start from” asked Ayesha “well from the beginning” replied Tanvi. “Ok Tanvi, so as you know, my mother Fatima found me in a garbage can, she was a ragpicker and use to live on a footpath near the garbage can, one night she woke up hearing the cries of an infant , she rushed towards the garbage can, and lifted me out, and immediately took me to a government hospital, I wasn’t well, I was barely a week old, wounded and shivering in fever”.
“The paediatrician of the government hospital was a very kind man, he admitted me and took great care of me, after 7 days I recovered, Fatima stayed with me in the hospital every single minute, and we left the hospital as mother and daughter.” with her savings, she rented a small shanty, and we started our new lives together in it, she named me Ayesha, Fatima then started working as domestic help in a near by residential society, she would leave me at home under the supervision of one of her friends”.
“When I was about three years old, Fatima started taking me along, she would wash the utensils while I would sit in a corner quietly, in one of the houses there was a child of my age, we use to play together and his mother would give me cookies to eat and at times she would teach me how to read and write, she noticed that I would learn alphabets and numbers very fast, she started teaching me, Fatima would leave me at her home in the morning, she would take care of me as if I was her own child, she would feed me, play with me and teach me, she insisted Fatima to admit me in a school, but poor illiterate Fatima, who never set her foot in a school before, was petrified by the idea, but she loved me so very much that she took me to a government school and admitted me in the first standard”.
“In the morning she would take me with her for work, we would eat whatever we get in those houses, in the afternoon she would take me to the school, my school timings were 2:00 to 5:00 PM, my mother would sit outside my class, on the stairs and would peek inside the classroom every now and then, just to be sure that I was ok”, there was spark in Ayesha’s eyes when ever she took her mother’s name, Tanvi could sense the bond of affection between them.
“I was about 14 years old and in 10th standard, one day I was waiting outside the school for Fatima to come, as she would always come beforetime and we would go together, I was surprised as she didn’t turned up that day, I was worried as I had this strange feeling that some thing isn’t right, so I started walking towards home, as I reached the alley near my home, I saw a small crowd gathered out side out shanty, I dropped my school bag and ran towards the home, Fatima was lying on the bad surrounded by women from the neighbourhood, I held her hand and asked her what happened, she was unconscious, neighbours told me that they found her unconscious lying on the floor about an hour back”.
“They had called an ambulance about an hour back but it hasn’t arrived yet, It came about 10 minutes later, the doctor checked her pulse and then the ambulance staff put her on a stretcher and got her into the ambulance, I was with her in the ambulance, doctor told me that Fatima has suffered a stroke, I was crestfallen didn’t know what to do, she was admitted in the ICU ward for about a week, and then shifted to a general word.
“We remained in the hospital for about two weeks and then she was discharged and I brought her home on a wheelchair, we were devastated, Fatima would cry day and night and I would console her, she couldn’t walk or do anything her self, she needed therapy and we desperately needed money, so I went to meet Prashant Ji, he was the owner of one of the homes where Fatima use to work as a maid, we went to the a factory where he use to work as floor supervisor, he introduced me to Mr. Paresh Nathan, manager in the accounts section, there was no vacancy in the factory which barely made any profits in the last 6 months, he however was looking for an assistant but I wasn’t qualified for that job, more over I was a minor, and it is against government norms to recruit a minor, but I insisted rather bagged him for that job at half the salary, because of Prashant Ji’s personal recommendation, I got the job in Roshan Textiles Industries as assistant to accounts manager.
My initial salary was six thousand rupees a month, that was about twice to what Fatima was earning, the first thing I did was that I hired a full time maid cum cook for Fatima, she would come to my house at around 7:30 in the morning and stay till 8 PM, I had instructed her, never to leave my mother alone.
“I was a quick learner and an avid reader, though I had to quit the school but the teachers were kind enough to lend me books on accounting from the school library, I learnt accounting by my self, I would come to the office at around 8:00 AM, an hour early, and would read all the newspapers, economic times, times of India even the regional papers, I was very curious and absolutely in awe of the machines in the factory, I read all the manuals available in the factory, would discuss with the technicians about the functioning of the machines, would also discuss with them about what kind of machineries being used in other industries, or by our competitors”.
“By the time I was 17, I had earned a reputation of an allrounder, I would fill-in many shoes, an accounts manager in the absence of Mr.Nathan, production manager, logistics and even trainer for the new recruits, I loved my work, but I had the habit of asking too many questions, at times my questions would make my fellow workers uncomfortable”
Ayesha smiled and paused for a second, drank some water, and continued again, “Mr.Nathan resigned from the company and I became the accounts manager, now I had the access to most powerful tool in the world, the internet, my passion and love for machines was at a whole new level, I read, whatever I could find about the latest textile machinery and about the leaders in the textile space”.
“We were incurring losses not because of the market or anything beyond our control, but because of sheer incompetency and mismanagement”, said Ayesha, “I raised alarm many times but all in vain, MD won’t read my mails, neither he would give me time to meet him nor he would remotely try to mend the culture of the company”.
“Finally one day our MD asked us all to come in the common hall at around 8:00 PM, he had to make a very important announcement, we were all prepared for the worst and we were right in our anticipation, MD Mr.Rajesh Nathani introduced us to his son Mr.Niraj Nathani, he was a young man in his twenties, dapper and handsome, “Harvard” written all over his face”, Tanvi chuckled, Ayesha smiled and continued “but I could clearly make out that he wasn’t happy being there, I still remember each and every word he said that evening,” Ayesha stood up and started strolling in the room “brothers, he then took a pause, and continued, you are my family, and I have immense respect and gratitude for all of you, you have given your sweat and blood to this company, he then took a pause again this time to clear his throat, and said in a trembling voice, as you all know that our company is making losses since last 2 years, we tried every thing in our control to sustain but now with great sorrow I have to convey to you, that we have no other option but to close the factory, I looked at the faces of the terrified workers around me, there fear gave me strength and I shouted at the top of my voice “but we can save our company sir” “Mr.Nathani wasn’t prepared for that”, “who was that” he said looking at the audience, I rose my hand and started walking towards him, as I stood in front of him, I introduced my self and said “sir with all due respect, we can still save the company, “may I know how”, it was Niraj MD’s son, he had a big question mark on his face and hope in his eyes, sir I have prepared a presentation for you, and would like to show it to you, our MD was shellshocked, he wasn’t prepared for anything like this and he didn’t wanted to create a Scene in front of a very anxious audience, he simply said sure, so I started walking towards my cabin and MD and his son followed, there were 500 people mostly men in that place but there was pin drop silence, the only sound in that hall that time was the noise our shoes made while we crossed the crowd.”
“I explained them in detail what exactly was going wrong in the company and how it can be fixed, the MD was part surprised part abashed to realise how negligent he was, Niraj was asking questions, he was keen to know more about my ideas of revamping the company, at that time we were defaulting on the interest payments to the bank, our order book was empty, for the last six months we were without work and we weren’t even trying to get any business, as if we wanted the disaster to happen, now coming to the solution, I showed them the map of the factory, if we do the realignment of the factory by shifting the godown towards the main unit by 500 meters, we will unlock 650 square meters of land located right next to India’s largest upcoming residential projects, if we sell this land, we will have enough money, not only to clear our dues, but we can even replace these obsolete machines with the modern once! the father and son duo were spellbound, they went through the entire presentation, it was 1:00 AM in the night when I concluded the presentation, only a handful of employees were still in the factory waiting for us”.
“Niraj invited me to his home next day on breakfast, he sent his car to pick me up, I agreed, the car came to pick me at 8:30 AM, I reached there bungalow at 9:00, we had a quite breakfast and then they offered me the position of CEO in the company, but I was clearly told that I have to walk the walk now, and I delivered more then what they anticipated, I renovated the building structure of the factory in a month, I shifted the godown and also reduced it in size, removed the pantry and also shrieked the main production unit because the new machinery which I had planned would need fewer space then the machines we were using then, I carved out a prime piece of real estate, about 700 square meters in area”.
“The land was sold at a record prise, we not only paid the overdue interest to the bank but also a sizeable principal also. That was not all, the same year central government, to promote the textile manufacturing, introduced the subsidy scheme, we were one of the first to to cease the opportunity, we imported the latest rapier looms from China, It was a double gain for us, as it was a bulk order, I negotiated hard on the prising and maintenance and enjoyed 20% subsidy on the final cost of the machinery”.
“We were back in the game, with new machines and capital, we restarted our company with new rigour and zeal, I was so excited with the success we got, I became famous in the fraternity, we had now shifted to a large flat located in a posh Mumbai locality, Fatima was showing signs of improvement, she could now communicate through signs and broken words”.
“I approached our erstwhile clients, initially they were very sceptical, some of them had burned there fingers wile working with us, but I was able to convince few of them to give us another chance, I convinced one of my former clients to visit the factory, and he was very impressed, the very next day he gave us the order with 30% advance. We delivered the goods before time and our quality was of a very different league, we made a paltry profit though but we knew that rebuilding the brand wouldn’t be easy. Soon my machines were running at 100% capacity, 24 hours a day in three shifts, we were making some serious money now,” Ayesha was smiling and then she continued “we first repaid the smaller unsecured business loans of higher rate of interest and then the loans of higher tenure.” “We were debt free in two years,” Ayesha smiled as if her mind dwelling in the past.
“I knew we were ready to take the next step, I flew to America and started chasing prospect clients, and I hit the jackpot, I secured an order worth 5 million USD, but we lacked the capacity to deliver it, so I proposed raising funds by listing our company in the stock market, but that was a lengthy process, so I proposed fund raising from strategic investors “parallelly” , our company was in profits, we had orders from US, investors lined up, we raised 7 million dollars by diluting 2% stack, I spearheaded the renovation, we removed the steel fabricated shed of our factory and added two more concrete floors, we did the same to our godown, we added new machines and ramped up the production capacity by 3 folds”.
“I was working like a possessed woman, I worked for 18-19 and some days 20 hours a day, Fatima was the only one genuinely proud of me and happy to see my growth” “Ayesha, ah sorry to interrupt, but there is one thing which I don’t understand, the name of the company was Roshan Industries, how dose it became Ayesha Industries”? asked Tanvi, “Patience princess” replied Ayesha, she smiled and continued “I became the de facto owner of the factory, much respected and much feared than the MD or his son, off late they felt and seemed miserable with the kind of pace and efficiency I was working with, look Tanvi Mr.Rajesh Nathani never built the factory or the company, it was his father who did, both him and his son were born with a silver spoon, they never had the capability nor the guts to take the company to newer heights, they were simply enjoying the fruits of the hard work of other people, they felt threatened by me, there hollow egos couldn’t bear my accomplishments, I pulled the company from the brink of dissolution, to become one of the best textile manufacturers in the country, so one day they called me to there office and fired me” “what ” Tanvi shouted in complete awe, “don’t be shocked my dear, the only thing constant in this world is irony” Ayesha got up and stood beside the window, she slides the curtain to face the evening breeze, there was absolute silence in the room, Ayesha seemed to have gone in a different time, Tanvi watching her intently, admiring Ayesha’s strength and her unbreakable resolve….