Thursday, March 22, 2012



(Please read the following, a bit long, story--of which I have only written excerpts--and think how frequently you are witnessing such scenes on TV now-a-days.)

.....A reminiscence

An elderly grey-haired man in a safari suit, dishelved and looking dejected, with swollen eyes, was being led by a few burly men (also in safari), apparently from the CBI, towards the court room. A group of photo-journalists brought up the rear........

.......A TV News reader was talking of yet another sordid instance of fraud and corruption in high places.  Here it was a bureaucrat who was involved in a multi-crore scam.

I switched off the TV. I was angry and disgusted. Enough is enough. How many scams? How many crores of rupee going into the private accounts of evil men! 

Only that morning I had received a notice to pay up an additional amount of Income Tax. To be swindled and wasted by men in safari suits?........

.......Suddenly, it occurred to me that the haggard face on the TV Screen was not one unfamiliar to me. I had seen it before, many year ago. I waited for the morning news papers and I need no further confirmation that I had known this man before from my school days, some fifty years ago.


I recalled to mind the day when a new boy was inducted into our class........He was punctual, neatly dressed and his forehead shone with 'vibhooti' and 'kumkum'......We were quite friendly with each other as we were the only two boys who studied Sanskrit.........his father was a Government functionary with some influence.  There were rumours that his "sambalam" (Tamil for salary) was small compared to his "kimbalam" (the slush money) he collected..........

...........several years later, ......I was told that he had done extremely well, had a big job in the Government, and was a very important person in Delhi.


Years flew and I found myself in Delhi......I managed to talk to him on the phone, after I had given my bio-data to quite a few persons......."Do you remember me?.....Why don't we meet sometime?" I thought he was 

hesitant for a moment but then said, "perhaps we may. Please come to my office at 4.30 p.m. I may spare about fifteen minutes." 

I was a bit disappointed.....thought he would invite me to his house.......

......I had to wait for about an hour........ushered into a spacious chamber bigger than the flat I had in Mumbai, magnificiently upholstered. He was sitting behind a huge table, laden with all kinds of things, notably telephones in different colours. There were the inevitable files, heaps of them. He did not get up but showed me to a chair in front. I could not shake hands with him across the wide table.

I had a mild shock when I had a closer look at him. The man sitting in front of me could not have been the boy I had known. He was dressed in an expensive suit. He had that well-fed look which came with affluence. His hair had become thin and grey and his eyes were dull , with pouches under them, perhaps due to excessive drinking. He was puffing at a huge cigar, not in the manner of a man enjoying an expensive smoke, but as one who wanted to impress others. There was no kumkum or viboothi on his forehead.

(The conversation went on without the initial pleasantries, ending with "....the minister's wife would not dream of going to Dubai with out an escort....So they are all away, and I am alone".)

My friend butted in with an agonised exclamation, "Good Lord! We have been talking for so long that I forgot my appointment with the Turkish Ambassador. Please excuse me now."

I was about to say that "he" and not "we" were talking for a long time, but by then he had got up. I could not formally take leave of him.


...........I was in Delhi for some more time, but I was wise in not meeting my friend again. I learnt that he had prospered a lot by fair means and foul, more foul, perhaps. The newspapers were full of the news about the enquiries initiated against him. There were rumours that he was likely to be suspended. His appointment to the top slot being in jeopardy, he was reported to be making desperate moves to survive.

Some time after my return from Delhi to Mumbai, one day I read in the papers that he had been elevated to the top post and all enquiries against him had been dropped. Rumours were rife that he had bought his position with the connivance of a large industrial house and some ministers, whose interests he was willing to serve. He had fallen into a trap from which there was no escape - the trap of conspiracy and corruption.

My friend in his new avatar was making several visits to Bombay, as I could see from the press. He was also travelling a lot abroad. 

I remembered him only when I saw his face on the TV-the grey-haired man in safari suit being taken to the court.

My friend is not the only one to pay a heavy price for his greed and arrogance. There are several others, men who are powerful and wealthy. Their disregard of the law and indifference to the feelings of others are matched only by their ruthlessness, foolishness, and their faith in their infallibility. But when nemesis catches up with them, where are they all? - sons and daughtrs, wives and in-laws, mistresses and sychophants? Not within the dingy confines of Tihar Jail but in far away salabrious Switzerland or in luxurious Dubai.

.......I hope and pray that he would ere long be a wiser man, a repentant man and recover his lost soul.

--End of article--
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Does the "person" seem familiar to you? If so, who do you think he is?

(The "source" etc. in my next post)