Karthika (name changed) was the wife of Ravi (name changed) a peon working in a government office in Gods Own Country (GOC). Ravi died of Cirrhosis of the Liver ten years ago. He was employed at the time. As per the rules and regulations, Ravi’s son was the natural successor to his father’s post. He had already graduated by then and the family was sure of him securing the job and Ravi’s pension soon. Like the proverbial twist in the tail shown so brilliantly in Hindi movies, the family’s fortunes sank with Ravi’s death.
When Karthika approached Ravi’s office for the pension and the job she was asked to come a month later and check on the status of the pension and her son’s induction into his father’s job. Today, ten years later, Karthika still haunts the office for the pension and her son’s job. She has sold off her house, land and cows to pay various people in the office as instructed by the Trade Union Ravi was a member of, to get her files moving. Her younger daughters have grown up and after their SSLC got employment in a Housekeeping Services company. Her son does odd jobs in the hope of getting that coveted government job soon. He is in his thirties now, married with a kid.
If you are wondering why Karthika did not approach the courts, then you will be surprised to know that people like Karthika are a tribe in themselves. They are simple people, intimidated and or impressed or plain awed by offices and officers and people of power and education. They trust anything told to them by people posing to be well wishers. They think the pseudo concern and reassurances shown by the parasites in the office and union are genuine and do their utmost to arrange money as and when asked by these parasites. And these parasites have been living off people like her for years. They are fully aware that she and people like her have no money, but think nothing of asking her five hundred rupees every six months to get her file moving.
And the Karthika’s out there are more than happy to beg or borrow that money to oblige the nice rotund pot bellied gentleman sitting on the Godrej Chair and table sipping Coffee while they stand hands clasped after handing over the envelope. After every visit to the office, there is a spring in their step and a look of hope in her eyes. Meanwhile the five hundred and the other five hundreds given by the other Karthikas will keep Mr. Government Servant’s Bar stocked and car running till the next visit of the Karthikas. There are many people out there living off people like Karthika. Try this stunt in the union less rural areas of other States of India and you will be surprised that it will not work. The reason is not because they are squeaky clean, but because the illiterates have a conscience and feel pity for poor widows, while the literates of GOC think they are easy picking for some nice side money.
This is a true story. Recently my uncle and aunt took up her case when they got to know of her plight when she came to them for the job of a maid. With my Uncles political connection her pension was released and her son got the job after the person appointed by the Union in the job was transferred to another office. While my Uncle was walking in and out of several government offices getting the mess sorted out, he was witness to many Karthikas coming in with envelopes and leaving with hopes in their eyes.