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   Chapter 3 Stubborn idiots

Aberration By Sundaram Characters: 6915

Updated: 2020-12-29 05:52


In stories, they used to describe a man as ‘he’s perfect every inch’ to talk of the virtues of a gentleman. I haven't yet met such a man who’s every inch perfect. One could never forget the imprints of the British legacy in India. Years after our independence still it’s thought and practiced as a way of elite people to talk in English. The language has won over the minds of Indians. They often find not being able to make out what’s said in vernacular unless the same is put in English version. Such is the impact. There’s no wonder Indians settled in overseas countries beat over the native people in English spelling and oratory contests.Some decades ago, I had an uncle working as a senior officer in a district collectorate. He was known for his diction and vocabulary in English for he had served many a native officer from England. Others referred to him for assistance whenever they doubted English drafts or files. My uncle moved very importantly among all his colleagues. It’s one of such moments when a higher officer wrote a few lines in a file replacing what my uncle wrote. What if the officer wrote something which isn't in order? The aberration, the deviation drove my uncle!My uncle took the file to the officer and said, “Sir, what I’ve written is correct. If what you’ve corrected is to be there in the file then there might be a chance for negative meaning. I’ve stetted it.”The officer looked highly irritated. He had no mind to look into the file nor did he care for whatever negative connotation must result. He said arrogantly, “How dare you to correct my lines? I’m suspending you right away.” Not being able to tolerate the treatment meted out to him, my uncle left the office at once. But before he left he said to the officer face to face, “It’s because of people like you the British ran away. You try to learn and if you don’t you’ll soon be a laughing stock even among your colleagues.” Never to say, the officer kept my uncle out of office so long as he officiated in that station. The suspension followed another and so on. My uncle was not paid. He had no children and my aunt advised him to go and apologize to the officer. His vanity never permitted my uncle to see the officer again. For several months the couple managed to make out their living and finally my aunt left for her mother’s place. Left alone and suffering from a number of ailments my uncle breathed his last in a government hospital. Learning the news my aunt also fell in shock and died. Later on, it’s learnt that the officer met with an accident and died. Life has a lot of ups and downs but tactfulness pays. What if the English is bad after all the true English man is not there? Over the span of time the right thing is what’s there in majority and that has long replaced the really right thing! I must make a mention of an aberration that I happened to experience in my own case though not exactly similar to that of my uncle. I got a government job soon after my graduation in engineering. During the earlier days in my service, I had a number of talented officials. Once there was a misappropriation of funds in my office in the accounts branch. My controlling officer issued a show-cause notice to me attributing the loss of funds and demanded why I shouldn’t be placed under suspension. Everyone in the office knew who the culprit was but then nobody was prepared to make a complaint. I understood this foul game had been there for a lo

ngtime. It went unnoticed somehow and the person involved had managed the issue by showing false bills. I disallowed some false bills in my capacity and that’s where the issue cropped up. I replied to the show cause notice formally rejecting my involvement and requested an in-camera enquiry with all the staff in the office. The officer came and before ever any enquiry proceeded the culprit surrendered himself. Usually, such cases resulted in a suspension from service for a month and remittance of disputed money into government funds. But this officer who’s known for his integrity and smartness suspended the clerk for six months together with a waiver of funds from his pay in instalments. Everything was over and the officer was ready to board his car. I stood in the courtyard to see him off when he called me and said, “You wrote good English.” Beaming with a smile I said, “Sir, I’m used to it because I’m a freelance writer.”The officer suddenly added, “You’re better than others but I never said you’re the best.” And he’s gone! I noticed my subordinates giggling silently. What if the officer had said? “You’re good at English. Keep it up.”I’ve come across some officers who boasted of their honesty but indulged in distasteful acts at times especially when they’re not watched.My controlling officer had his office 200 Kilometers away from my headquarters. He chose to travel by train and it was in the protocol to pick him up from the railway station whenever he visited our office. He came once a month normally and paid more visits depending on the urgency of work. Once I got a call over the phone in my office.“Am I speaking to Sundar?” he said“Yes Sir.”“Well listen to me. Tomorrow forenoon I shall be there. Send me the department vehicle to the railway station and I’ll be there in the first class compartment marked 1 AC. Check the time of train no: 2870 with railway enquiries.” And he hung up.Usually, I used to go and pick him up. It’s not in the protocol to send a driver to pick up. I went there to the railway station on the day of his arrival. The train was just in time and I was there already at the stopping slot of 1 AC. But my officer never came out. The express train hardly stopped for more than three minutes. I hurried to look into the reservation slip pasted on the cabin near the entrance. My officer’s name was not there and there were a number of seats vacant and their seat numbers were also displayed. Ascertaining that the officer had missed the train I came out of the station and started towards the parking. The officer was already there seated in the car and the driver was waiting for me!“I’ve been here for twenty minutes. Where the hell have you gone? Did I not tell you over the phone of my visit?” “Sir, I checked….”“Stop that crap. Get in.” And the car was moving away.Later on, I learnt from my predecessor that the officer was a dubious person. He used to travel in second class and claim first-class fare. For that he’d judiciously collect the vacant seat number pasted on the first-class cabin and mention it in his bills.“Indeed he’s clever,” I exclaimed. But what difference would he make from a real imposter? If a disorder was the ruling nature then you’d court many a case. Don’t be surprised there were bills claiming travelling allowance on 31st November. It seldom went noticed and it always fetched a good sum to the auditor if at all he detected and corrected it.

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