Irony of a common man in a morally corrupt society
You people are addicted to the slavery of VIPs and political goons. You would have reacted immediately if any of these would have called you, but the pleading voice of a humble man doesn’t appeal you at all.
Recently, I learned what it means to be a common man. Why the temptations of corruption are too strong to resist for any person living in this country. If he doesn’t fall to these temptations, then the system will force him to adopt it. It was like a story we read in books as little kids, a story which was brief but always carried the moral at the bottom of the text. Here is my story.
The scene is set at the SBI office at HPU, Summerhill. Protagonist is an unemployed guy, but an educated man of humble nature. He often wondered why people are nuts for government jobs and that why people are afraid to live as common folks, who don’t have any political back or official authority, which they could exploit to convert the influence into their convenience. On a fine morning, his landlords approach him with a task, which appeared too trivial to be asked as a favor. The task was to verify the payment against a bank receipt number on a given date. Their daughter had lost the receipt which she had received against an amount of over Rs. 25,000 deposited as academic fee of HP University. Now, it was an urgent matter for her to get this payment verified or get a duplicate of the original receipt. She was newly posted at a distant place and was helpless to handle the issue herself.
What’s the big deal? The banks keep records of every payment, and fortunately, computerization of banks has made it an even easier task to search the details of any bank account or transactions. It would not take more than half an hour to write an application with transaction details, which the accountant can verify within couple of minutes. With all this calculation, the protagonist agrees and commits to her parents to get it done that very day.
On the first day, the accountant gave an excuse that it’s Saturday and no employee is available to check the records. The office was empty at afternoon. Protagonist accepted the excuse on moral ground and to keep accord with the principle of co-operation with fellow citizens without any discrimination. On the second day, his grievance was handed over to a young employee and he was directed to look after it. The employee checks the computers and sadly informed him that no computerized record is available, therefore, they will have to check the files for original copy of the receipt.
The payment was made in 2011, and the bank did not have any computerized record. Curious protagonist asks the employee why it is so. He was given an answer that sounded very awkward for any bank in the world. He said, the old computers were replaced and the data was formatted, thus, lost. But, he assures that the record keeper will be directed to check the records as soon as he arrives, as he wasn’t present at that very moment. That obviously meant that the record keeper wasn’t absent but was out for some unknown reason. It leads the protagonist to make a decision to wait for his return. Whole day passed and at the end of second day, he is asked for one more day as the record keeper didn’t return that day. Disappointed and irritated protagonist returns with an assurance for the next day.
On the third day, the record keeper was there at the office. Everything appeared favorable enough to get this job done. When the record keeper was handed over the issue, he displayed his character, which was in agreement with that of an average government employee. What he did was that he opened the record room, which was obviously a messy space with huge piles of files and registers. The protagonist was directed to the room and asked to find the receipt himself out of that bulk. Does it make any sense in such a logic that says an outsider is supposed to known about the sequence or anything about the records in that room? Would they do the same with their vault if someone approaches to get details about his saving account? Would they open vault for him and ask him to count the cash in his account himself, without any official assistance to help him?
Irritated, disappointed, he approaches the manager and seeks her immediate consideration to his problem as it was an urgent matter. She told him that it’s too hectic to search for an old receipt. When she was asked why the branch doesn’t has any electronic record, he was told that payment counters still works manually and the record of any payment made at those counters isn’t stored in computers. The branch of the bank was computerized. Everyone in the office was sitting in front of a PCs even at the counters. Then why they didn’t bother to worry about the transactions made at fee counters, and why the other employee said the data was lost? Each one of the personal, whom he approached, gave different reasons and excuses to ignore him, but no solution.
At last, the protagonist decides to try the other way; he takes a personal favor from an employee at university, who is an insider and knew the protagonist. The result was instant. He solved it in just 10 minutes. As a common guy, who approached the bank with humble gestures and pleading voice, was misguided and three days of his life was wasted without helping even a bit. The very same task just took 10 minutes when an internal approach is used. Who wants to be the idiot by following the principles of honesty, co-operation, and moral ethics in such a system? To survive in this country, either we have to join a political camp as a flatterer to its leaders or we must be wealthy enough to cast an influence. Why to suffer as a common citizen when corruption and hypocrisy could ensure more convenience?
In India, it’s a horrific dream for anyone to have no power of wealth or influential position in the society, and majority of population is living this very nightmare each and every day at government offices and at semi-government establishments, where these slackers would even suck your blood to escape from their official and moral duties. To the manager and the staff of SBI Summerhill, you people have demonstrated the status of your decaying morals, and trust me, it’s getting worse for a common man. You people are addicted to the slavery of VIPs and political goons. You would have reacted immediately if any of these would have called you, but the pleading voice of a humble man doesn’t appeal you at all. You and your staff gave altogether different excuses regarding the missing computerized record. Perhaps, you should brief your staff to tell common lies.
However, still, as a human, the protagonist did not lose hope for a better future for his society, because, most of the citizens do give up and become the part of it. If he surrendered due to such a shitty attitude of others, then he’ll add to the hopeless and non-reactive population. In the end, it’s up to you individual perceptions how you interpret the moral of the story.
I am thankful to HW for publishing my personal experience through which I could share my disappointment.
The names and details aren’t disclosed on a request from the narrator