Monday, December 15, 2008

The Disappointment

Date 05-April-1990 in my diary.
Written shortly after I returned from one of my innumerable trips to the local office to regularize my mother's family pension.

***

Shyamlal avoided the pan chewing lawyers dressed in dirty black coats vending themselves, "Arre, any work to be done?" He nodded and muttered under his breath, "leeches."

By now he was familiar with these fellows who stood at the entrance to the Treasury Office. He never came across such people when he was in the Army. He retired a couple of months ago and ever since then he had been coming to the treasury office. He had forgotten how many times he had come there to get his pension papers cleared. The lower clerk had condescended to finally clear his papers and now the file was with the senior clerk, Bade Babu. Last time the senior clerk was on leave. The time before he was attending a meeting. Before that ... "Irresponsible!"

He stepped across a small rivulet formed by a leaking tap and entered the office he now knew better than his newly rented house. The office seemed to have frozen in time. The walls could do with a coat of paint. The fans coated with grime never seemed to be moving any air. And the tables? Stacked with files, brown papers, with layers of dust. "Why doesn't any one clear them?" Three of the four chairs were empty, as usual.

Shyamlal asked for the Bade Babu. "Gone for a cup of tea. Sit down,' was the bored reply. There was no place to sit. So he rested against the table. "Today I will get my work done. What di they think of us? Slaves? No discipline. What'll happen to the country. Is this what I deserve after serving the nation for so many years?"

After about half an hour the Bade Babu stepped in. Sat down, looked up at Shyamlal, opened a small pouch, carefully took out some tobacco, dusted it up by beating the palms together and stuffed the tobacco under his lower lips.
"What do you want?"
"Sir, my pension ..."
"What pension?"
"Sir, my pension file is with you and ..."
'What is your number?"

Shyamlal took out an old, folded letter he had received from the head-office and gave the number. As he was putting back the paper in his wallet an old photograph popped out and fell on the table. This was when he was young ... he had just joined the Army. His mother liked this photograph a lot. "You look like a city boy," she used to say.

The Bade Babu picked up the photograph and looked at it carefully.
"Are you from Dhondipur?"
Shyamlal nodded.
The Bade Babu got up from his chair.
"What Bhai Saab? You should have told me you are from Dhondipur. I am Harkishan's son? Didn't you recognise me? And how is everybody at home? How is Chacha? It has been ages since I have met a person from my village. Come. I'll treat you to a cup of tea."
"My pension papers ..."
"Don't worry about yout pension. Your work will be done." Now come."

By now there was small queue of people who had come to meet Bade Babu. Shyamlal looked through them. After all he was with Bade Babu now! They could wait.

As he passed the people he, however, failed to notice the disappointment in their eyes which was until a few moments ago was in his own eyes.

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6 comments:

Sayani said...

so beautiful post...
thats how human are ...so selfish
i read a poem 'umknown citizen"
thats what it is ...we dont identify oneself

gr8 write up
:)

regards
sayani

AS said...

nice work, very nicely and sensitively written. keep up d good work. :)

Vyazz said...

Interesting writeup!!......Simple and well written, describing the paradox of events.

2dayswriter said...

hi, just stumbled upon your blog. I greatly appreciate the idea of digitalising the previously written parts of your own diary.
and , the way you mange 3 blogs at the same time is astonishing!

todays writer said...

hi, just stumbled upon your blog. I greatly appreciate the idea of digitalising the previously written parts of your own diary.
and , the way you mange 3 blogs at the same time is astonishing!

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