I am trying to show a mirror to ourselves through some crispy talks and some imaginary stories.
All the stories narrated in this book are products of my bloody head’s imagination. If however, any character resembles with any living or dead persons, it is cheer coincidence only. I also apologize, if I hurt somebody’s sentiment unknowingly by writing these simple stories to stress upon my philosophy of life.
Thanks to my readers and friends and above all my family for their constant support to write something usual and unusual. I love them all.
Thanks to Shakespir for publishing this story book along with my other books.
Chapter I: On Saying Good Morning
Never ever force anybody to address you sir, if he or she does not want to address you sir. Why I am saying this?
Read this story, you are intelligent enough to know.
Mr. X, Y and Z were three batch mates of a reputed company and joined their company on the same day. However, on the basis of the first interview, Mr. X became the senior most at the time of posting. In due course of time, they became good friends. Life was going on as usual for all the three for next twenty years.
Among the three, Mr. X was extremely vocal in airing his views which sometimes made him unpopular among the seniors despite of his intelligence and workaholic nature. However, he was extremely popular among the juniors for his helping attitude and timely advices whenever they approach.
For airing his views for the right cause made him so un-popular among the seniors, after twenty years of service, Mr. X failed to get a regular promotion whereas both Mr. Y and Z got their promotions superseding Mr. X.
After that promotion, friendship between Mr. X and Y remained same but Mr. Z, who happened to be the junior-most among them prior to the last promotion behaved differently. After his promotion, he stopped any non-official and non-formal meeting with Mr. X.
Finally, one day Mr. Z conveyed to Mr. X through a much junior officer that Mr. X should show respect to Mr. Z as his senior then onwards at any formal official meeting.
Mr. X got the message and followed Mr. Z’s order in letter and spirit. How?
He started to show proper respect (?) to Mr. Z at any place at any time. Whenever Mr. X met Mr. Z, he immediately used to stand up from the Chair, bow him and wish him ‘Good morning/ good afternoon/ etc. Sir.’
Mr. Z became very happy thinking that he was able to show one of the most arrogant officers his proper place. He enjoyed every bit of time he spent with Mr. X. Mr. X’s good morning and good afternoon had so much soothing effect on him that, he used to look forward his meeting with Mr. X on any official forum. His (Mr. X’s) yes sir, yes sir became a music to his ears in any formal meeting. During that period, Mr. Z used to relish his position like never before.
One fine morning, Mr. X and Y were discussing some personal matters in Mr. Y’s chamber. During that time, Mr. Z also made a crash door entry to Mr. Y’s chamber.
Mr. X stood up immediately, bowed to him and said, ‘Good morning Sir.’
Mr. Y was surprised to see his funny style of saying good morning to a friend of twenty odd years. Mr. Y asked Mr. X, ‘Why you are behaving like this, you ba—d?’
Mr. X smiled sarcastically and replied, “Now a days, I say –‘Good Morning Sir’ to everybody; even to the street dogs, as I do not know when and how one will bite (me) from behind. Now a days, I have a feeling that everyone holding some power can backstab me. That is why I respect all the seniors and powerful by buttering their feet. Nobody looks at company’s interest. Everybody counts how many times your junior says, ‘Good morning your highness.’ Now I also become very intelligent.”
Mr. Z felt a pain of a strong virtual slap on his face.
To add salt to his (Mr. Z) injury (hurting ego), Mr. X told Mr. Y, ‘Whenever any dog in the street forced me to show respect, fearing an impending bite, I always show respect to him as per the way he desires. When I utter good morning, I actually mean, you ba—d you deserve a kick on your butt, but alas I have to say good morning to a ba—d who may not know even who was his father.’
With a pause he said again, ‘However, when I say good morning to Mr. Z, I actually mean it. After all, I always show my sincere respect to all the deserving persons irrespective of what they demand and what they deserve.’
Mr. Z could not find appropriate words to counter the remarks of Mr. X. Only he could manage a smile on a crying face.
Now you also understand why Mr. X did not get his promotion!
However, the bottom lines are:
Always remember that every ‘good morning’ is not necessarily as good it sounds! Every good morning may mean ‘go to hell, you ba—d’. Therefore never force anyone to say ‘good morning’ against his or her will. After all, indifference attitude of a person is always better than the hidden curse, coated with a ‘good morning sir’. Always remember if you deserve a ‘good morning sir/ madam’ from anyone, you will definitely get it with or without any demand from your side. Always respect the will of the other person irrespective of his seniority and social standing compared to you.
Chapter II: Respect Has to Be Earned
It was year 1987. A wild cat strike was called by a group of employees against Director, the top most officer of a Department of the Government for his alleged misbehavior to the Secretary of the organization/ union. The Government sent a high level delegation to discuss the matter with both the parties to thrash out the problem.
At first, both the parties were called for discussion separately. Both the parties put forward their arguments. After noting down the grievance of the union, both parties were called for a reconciliation.
The main grievance of the Union was that their leader was scolded in public by the Director.
The Director in his defense said, ‘I have scolded him for not doing his assigned duty- I have done nothing wrong.’
‘He was wrong on two accounts, i) He cannot scold me for not doing my duty- he could have issued a Memo for that. ii) He scolded me in front of others which is also not acceptable for all of us.’ The Union Secretary contended.
‘Normally we avoid issuing of a Memo. And I think, some of the problems can be solved at personal level, instead of discussing every problem at a formal level.’ The Director commented.
‘That is true. But this can only happen, if and only if, both parties are agreeable to that system. And at present, Sir is not following that system.’ The leader argued.
‘How can you blame me for it? For a simple scolding, you have called for a wild cat strike. Actually, for some unknown reasons, may be due to some vested interests, you are not cooperating with me and instigating the employees against me.’ With a taunting voice he remarked, ‘Now you try to project yourself as a big leader. A few years ago, I saw Mr. X (earlier Director) slapping you before everyone. But you did not utter a single word. No strike was called for. You are actually against me and present administration.’
‘You are absolutely wrong in one account and right as well on another account, sir. You are wrong on that account that, I am not cooperating with you, as I have no any ill motive against you. Moreover, I am not instigating my colleagues against you. I do not think, you can substantiate your allegation against me at any forum. However, you are right in your memory that, he (earlier Director) slapped me once in front of you and I did not object to that. But you may not be aware that he slapped me not only once, but many a times, as he is a very short tampered man. It is also true, I never objected to him while he slapped me before anyone else or in absence of anyone else.
I allowed him to slap me before anyone because I thought, he had the right to do so. I always consider him like my own father. Not only me, have most of the members of our union thought like me. Like every father has the right to slap every son if he (the son) does something wrong to his (son’s) family, he also earned the right to slap anyone of us as our own father. You had seen only one part of the story. Once you were present with him while he slapped me. But you had not seen (you are not aware of it) many things that went on behind you.
When my wife was in labour pain, he took her to hospital by driving himself his car at 2 AM as at that time his driver was not at home. When my daughter was ill and I was away, he took her to hospital. You may think, I was the only man who got some preferential treatment from him. No, he helped most of us like a good father does to his family. So each one of us thought during his tenure as Director, that all of us his children. Rather, we all feel grateful to him whenever he scolded or slapped us thinking that we must have done something wrong to our family or to the organization where we are working. He was the ‘chatrachaya’(protecting umbrella) of a godfather for each one of us. Even if he comes today and slap me before all of you, I shall think I am doing something wrong either for my family or for the organization. Even now I can kiss on his feet asking for forgiveness. So please Sir, do not compare yourself with Sir (previous Director). For all of us he was the ultimate boss, with or without his job in this office.’
I do not know the Ultimate outcome of the meeting, nor do I know which party was correct or which party was wrong. But definitely, this is a good story which may be discussed in any management class.
Chapter III: English Is a Language like Any Other Language
‘Bhaiya B-30 kaha Parega (Where is B-30)?’ Three years ago three young boys, about 19-20 asked me in Hindi when I was carrying two heavy bags to my residence after alighting from the metro at Khan Market Metro Station.
I told the direction to the youngsters. I did not mind, though I am not 100% sure, if my ego was not hurt, when they addressed me as ‘Bhaiya’, a derogatory address for a well-educated person like me. However, ‘bahiya’ is also used to address elder brother. In this particular case, they did not address me as their elder brother as in reality, I may be older than their parents. But I was not angry with them; rather, I was amused that they might have thought me as a labourer. Oh do not tell me that they thought me little older than them (Should I not be happy!).
Though, I was new to that place, I had already noticed, that normally, there are very few pedestrians on the streets except daily wage earners, CPWD’s manual workers, students and family members of the Servant quarters. Therefore, their address to me as Bhaiya, not as uncle or something else, might be perfectly justified. As, in India, Dignity of Labour is the first causality in the public places!
But what followed had disturbed me a lot more. All three boys appeared to be from good family background and that was really worrisome. They were walking about five feet ahead of me and thinking (probably) I am illiterate, they freely, with pretty loud voices, were discussing about a common friend, using the dreaded four letter(F…) word quite frequently, ignoring very existence of an old( or young) fellow like me. There may be two reasons of ignoring me, one, they might have the perception, that I am an illiterate person or, two, they don’t bother, very existence of any other fellow, irrespective of his age, background etc. The second perception is probably more dangerous.
That reminded me an old incident involving one of my school teachers, Late Chota Mian Sir, who taught us English in class VIII. He was an extremely simple, but very learned man and on principle, he never used to wear any shoe or chappal on his feet and always clad in Dhoti and Kurta.
The rail way line connecting Tezpur (Rangapara) and Jonai (North Lakhimpur) is crossing a village named as ‘Ghahi Gaon’ in Sootea Subdivision of Sonitpur District of Assam. Sir used to take a short cut to school which was along the train line.
One fine morning, he saw a crowd on the train line. When he approached the place where the crowd had been gathered, he saw a tom- tom car with two railway officials on it. They were inspecting the track. But reaching the place, he was feeling very bad as the two officials were talking in English and criticizing the crowd in the most derogatory manner. After listening to them for a few minutes, in chaste English, he asked the officials, should he translate to the villagers what they were saying about them (villagers).
For a moment, they were shell shocked and in the following moments, with folded hands, they apologized for their words and requested Sir, not to translate what they were saying. Sir did not translate those sentences, only advised them not to repeat the same mistake in future.
I am sure, they never did any such type of mistakes in the rest of their lives. I told this story many a times to my children, so that, they do not underestimate any person for his dress, background, colour or any other reasons.
Let me come to the original point. If the present generation develops a feeling that, anything can be spoken in public by using English language, we, as guardians have the bounden duty to impress upon our wards to see the reason, for not doing that again!
However, in India, unfortunately intelligence of a person is judged by English speaking capacity. It is nothing but a colonial mentally inherited from the British Raj in India. I am blessed to visit few non-English speaking country where progress in industrial sectors and other scientific sectors far ahead of India or any other South Asian countries where English is spoken amongst the elites. We normally conveniently forget that English is nothing but a language to communicate our minds to another person like any other language. However, I agree that English is a lingua franca for most of the countries in the world; but it is also equally important to remember that English is not the most spoken language in the world!
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But how one can become powerful?
If you can reach the top of the organization/ government/ company, automatically you will be powerful. How can one reach and stay at the top?
Unless you inherit the top position, you must have a trait along with competence and intelligence. Because your, competence and intelligence with your peers may be almost same, may be even less. Then, what is the specific trait you must have to reach the top and powerful?
‘You have to lick the boots of the seniors, boot the juniors and cut throats of the peers.’ This is a famous statement by a famous General.
In administrative language, it is called ruthless, disciplined and loyal officer/worker/person/soldier etc. Once you are at the top, you are the master all you survey, you are the judge and you’re the chief executor. If anybody dares to challenge you, you just annihilate him/ her.
But normally, technical people are not coming in this category. But always exceptions are there. A few years back, I attended a golden jubilee celebration of a technical organization at New Delhi. Retired top officers were also invited for the function. As soon as a retired top officer entered, everybody present there, rushed to him to greet him. This officer had retired about ten years back, but still commands respect among the juniors. The officer could not only recalled everybody by name, but also knew about the family members, their problems, both solved during his time and unsolved problems during his time.
At least another ten top retired officers were also present in the function, but none was swarmed like him. No doubt they were also greeted by many of us.
But I noticed, another retired top officer was sitting all alone, nobody was talking to him. I, out of sympathy, went to the old fellow and introduced myself and asked,
‘Sir, May I know, why you are sitting all alone?’
His answers perplexed me. ‘Young man! Why you are talking to me? If any of your seniors see you talking to me, they may be unhappy with you also. Perhaps you do not know me, I am Mr.——‘.
As a newcomer to the organization, I was told about this gentleman. When he was in the helm of affairs, he terrorized all the employees working under him, in the name of transfer, disciplinary actions etc. At the drop of a hat, he suspended many young officials. That was the first time I met this tyrant face to face. I surprised to see fear in the eyes of once most feared person. I understood that, he might be worried thinking, he might be humiliated by anybody, whom he had mentally tortured when he was in power.
I asked him politely, ‘Sir, would you mind if I ask you a question?’
The old fellow replied, ‘I know, what you want to know. No, I am not a happy person now. My misdeeds are now haunting me. Every day, I think why I did those acts. I sometimes, feel like committing suicide. But probably, God also does not want me. As an old man, I want to advise you, never think power will always be with you.
Power is like a prostitute, when you are on top, you are the master, the moment you leave, and you are no more even concerned to her/it. Even if you have choice between, your career and your conscience, always go with your conscience. Never compromise your dignity and principles. I did realize this fact of life very late. I learnt it very late that, love and respect cannot be earned through enforcement of power and authority, it comes through your actions and virtues, mutual respect and cooperation.
I was a good man till I occupied the top post and power took over my head. Now, I curse the day when I was selected for the post.’
I observed that, his voice was trembling and eyes became moist.
A few years back I was presiding a farewell meeting of an officer who had a Topsy turvy career. However, he was a very jolly person and he can mesmerize the audience whenever he speaks on any topic.
After giving thanks to the organizing committee, he started his farewell speech as follows:
I joined the service in ---year and completed 35 years of chequered career without any complaint about anybody who worked with me as senior or junior. In my entire career, I wanted to be a good human being, rather than a good officer.
As an officer I am a total failure in the eyes of many of my seniors and I am a very good officer in the eyes of my many juniors. However, I must be grateful to all my 35 bosses except five bosses, in my long 35 years of my service career, who were kind enough to support me in my office work and for them only I am able to retire as -----.
You may be interested to know about those five officers, who gave me some torrid time during my career. Out of five officers, three were extremely good people and you all know, good people have to leave this sinful earth early; they also left the world of sin, well before their retirement.
Out of the rest two, one was sent to jail for few months by the authority due to some malpractices and the last one was allegedly beaten up by a junior officer, in his office chamber itself. When both of us were working under him, he used to instigate the young officer against me. Though, I had no role to play in all these happenings, both the living officers accused me as the chief architect of their misfortunes. Some accused me as ‘manhoos’ (a person who caries misfortune to others) for my bosses. As a matter of fact, none of the officers died, when I was working under them. Similarly, both the incidence occurred about the living officers, well after I left those offices. But, I cannot stop anybody who had a bad opinion about me.
But I can tell you, out of other 30 bosses, one went on to become a member of the apex body of our organization, one retired as a very senior officer in UN, four of them retired as the topmost officers of the organization. Many of my earlier bosses also retired after reaching the second top most post.
But you all know, we always remember all the bad things in the wrong spirit. Some seniors termed me as rogue, who never listens to the advices of the seniors; some said that, I deserved to be condemned.
I always feel about those seniors as they are innocent but lack of knowledge in the subjects dealt by us and administrative rules and regulations. It is the problem of the Indian system, where a person is identified by the designation, neither by knowledge nor by any other quality.
Suppose a person is holding the post of Director, then he is taken by the society as ‘Director, Mr. X, not as ‘Mr. X, Director’.
These officers also think about themselves like that and treat their subordinates as their servants, not servants of Government of India or Government of a State. When they cannot argue on administrative points or technical points, they would say, ‘you have to agree with me, because I am your boss.’
I never digested such type rulings in my life. I had always good relations with all seniors, whom I thought, they are intelligent and hardworking and protective against any external pressure. I hated those officers, who advises you to do something and once it goes wrong, he abandons you like a mouse abandoning a sinking ship.
Many people may talk about you many things, but you and only God knows what you are doing and what you have done. Therefore, I always do what makes me happy and in the interest for the country and staff working under me.
I may be implicated in things, which I actually had not done. Even the bosses know the truth, but they will never divulge the truth, because falsehood helps them. But God is always kind enough to me, whenever the bosses tried to harm me in connivance with some other senior officers, God rewarded me with something which otherwise, I would have missed in my life.
I am rather thankful to those poor bosses, for their misdeeds, I became mentally tougher and got chances to prove myself. Now I am a content man by achieving many things which, of course, may not be acknowledged by others. That is life, even Pandavas who were protected by God himself, had to suffer entire life, so who am I, who would not suffer!
Always remember, sufferings are like fire, which gives a chance to get rid of impurities of your body and mind.
I once again, thank all the bosses who helped me during my thick and thin and also those five bosses, three of whom are no more today, for their very good (Sic!) behavior /activities towards me, which made me mentally stronger, efficient and gave the opportunity to intellectually develop myself to some extent. I am also thankful, to all my juniors, whom I always treat them as my brothers/ sisters or sons/ daughters for their wonderful associations in my long journey. I also extend my.———
After completion of his speech, I asked him, why he is so skeptical about some of his bosses.
Further, ‘if I die tomorrow, you will make fun of my death also. Is not it?’ I asked him a pointed question.
‘Yes. When, I said, the persons who die early, I really mean it, they are lucky people. They need not have to face humiliation in the hand of any junior whom he tortured mentally. Their very entities are associated with the posts, they were holding. They do not have any social status compared to even a person, who might have retired from a very low post. Death is the ultimate truth and ultimate escape route. Dead persons need not have to reply anything, good or bad. I also do not have any bad feeling about them. But, yes, it is tragic for their families; I have also full sympathy for them.’
Though, I could not agree with the retiring colleague in all the points he had made, he also tried to see his arguments from his point of view.
I tried to compare the speech of the retiring colleague and the advice given by the retired person met on the golden jubilee celebration day.
Again I recalled of a person, who happened to be a nice person a few months ago, now fast changing to an authoritarian ruler after clinching a prize posting. I can see the future of the person, if his ego continues to grow like the way it is growing in the last few months, he may also end up with the same category of person of the retired person, whom I met on the golden jubilee celebration day, many years back.
I thought for a while, whether I should talk with the person, whom he had lot of respect, not to allow power and authority take over his head. Being a Junior in status, in a second thought, he desisted myself from doing so, because, if he does not take it in the right spirit, he may make my life hell.
I also try to look back, as administrator, how many times I had to take tough decisions, which were not appreciated by many. I have few more years to go. Who knows, if I die tomorrow, my family will suffer no doubt, but many juniors/ colleagues may also mock about my death, publicly or privately.
After a sleepless night, I shrugged off all the negative feelings and surrendered to his destiny!
The author is a Government servant and a man of vivid experiences derived from his official postings across the country, travels across India and numerous visits outside India. He is presently placed at New Delhi.
His earlier publications are:
1. Random Thoughts through a Coloured Prism
2. Dilemma of a Young Mind
3. Funny Statistics and Serious Statisticians
4. Melody of Fragrance
6. Few Cities through the Lens of Hiranya Borah
7. Guilt: Gift of Winter Spring
8. Beautiful Ghost
9. Great Fighters: Grace of God
10. All Blurred
11. Putting kids to sleep
12. How to become unpopular
14. My grumpy Face
15. Love and Worries
16. Discussion of own Birth: A Taboo
18. Indecent Love Affairs
19. My Fair Lady
20. Waiting time
21. Two Stories
22. My Mother: Dashami Borah
26. First Attempt
27. A father
28. The Portrait
29. Snapped Thread
30. Only He Knows
31. The Stupid Mother
32. The Same Old Story
33. The Old Scoundrel
34. Third Attempt
35. Some of my First Days and First Nights
36. Snubbed Twice
37. Have You Met the God
38. Frequent Flier
40. Forgive and Forget
41. To Win or to lose
42. Call Girl
43. Beyond Blood Relation
44. Lady with a Black Car
45. My wife
46. Complete Woman
47. Diwali Gift
48. Romance with a Lady
49. Open Heart Surgery
50. My First Love
52. Pebbles on My Way Home
53. My First Bengali Book
54. Murder Mystery
57. Make a Habit to Thank God
58. Killing of a Bird
59. The Hero
60. Fantasy versus Reality
61. The Party
62. Road Rage
63. Death of a Friend
64. Cannot Live with Memory Only
65. None Cares for Me
66. A Tribute to My Guru
67. Two Professionals
68. The Choice
69. The Elusive Spouse
70. First Encounter with A P
71. Plane Crash
72. Plane Crash Part-II
73. Plane Crash Part-III
75. A Bag of Currency
76. Suitable Groom
77. Head Hunters
78. My Dear Sister
79. Selection While Waiting at the Airport
80. Oh Shit
82. He Got Back His Wife
83. Beautiful Faces
84. Elder Sister
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The book contains four imaginary stories with my philosophy of life. First one relating to saying a simple 'good morning'. I suggest, to remember that every ‘good morning’ is not necessarily as good as it sounds! Every good morning may mean ‘go to hell, you ba—d’. Therefore never force anyone to say ‘good morning’ against his or her will. After all, indifference attitude of a person is always better than the hidden curse, coated with a ‘good morning sir’. Always remember if you deserve a ‘good morning sir/ madam’ from anyone, you will definitely get it with or without any demand from your side. Always respect the will of the other person irrespective of his seniority and social standing compared to you.