Manju worked as a Tracer in the department of Agriculture, in the engineering section where irrigation implements were designed. The Head of the Department was Mr. Binod Das, my father, who also headed the implements workshop division, where prototypes were being built.
I had just moved from a small town where my father served as the leader of a pilot project, but I had to stay back because I was in the midst of my college term, when he got transferred to the capital city with a bigger responsibility as mentioned above. Hostel was not available so I had to stay with one of our neighbors who also was a colleague of my father. Uncle loved my breakfast ritual when I made certain dishes and ate together along with two of his children, so very early morning he would go fetch fresh river fish, or some vegetables from nearby villages. He revered my father like a guru.
Even his wife. Except for the ways, her husband was attached to my father. She would call him the ‘tail’ of my father, obviously referring to the close bond and understanding they had, also criticizing the blind faith uncle ji had. So I asked him why he was so blindly following whatever my father had to say. And he narrated many interesting stories about the various ways they had received help in terms of more insights, more knowledge, better degree, recognition, training, and exposures to become better-performing officers and better human beings with a lot of peace of mind. At that time I did not understand much of what he said, and asked if he was referring to promotions in the department. He smiled at my naivety. He explained that, he would be an ever happy person, irrespective of promotions because he did not mind remote areas as he had now been living a more fulfilling life by helping people with habits of abundance away from materialism. To be more practical, he understood as to what bugged people in his area more, and was able to offer solutions with the technical knowledge he was able to acquire during his work in the team of my father.
I was a hugely proud person with not much clarity. I only knew that my father had a knack of locating the problem and its reason, and solving it with win-win propositions invariably. He was not a person to keep a grudge.
I met Manju once in his office, when I happened to top there on my way home. Although papa was a late office person, I thought that I might be able to convince him to go early home that day. When I reached, I saw papa engaged in a deep deliberation with several senior colleagues from associated departments, so I knew it would be late that day. However, he asked me to wait in Manju’s room. That was how I came to know her.
I liked Manju as we hit off to a cordial friendship. And she told me that despite being an early riser, and swift homemaker, she could never beat my father in time to reach office, because she had to take a bus which was never in time and the auto rickshaws were irresponsibly demanding in the morning. But she was more bothered about the finances at home despite both people working, as her husband, in the implements division was still a temporary worker devoid of the government perks, not even the provident fund facility or the health facilities. That way, he may not be able to be a guarantor in applying for education finance or a house finance in near future, sabotaging the future of their children.
I shared this with my father. He appeared surprised. Maybe he inquired i.e. came to know when Manju told me about a month later that not only her husband, but 40 of the staff in that division who had been on temporary status since twenty years were regularized by an official order, in which my father was the major guarantor… It meant that, papa could face an audit procedure because it could be treated as a disciplinary issue, but the service status of those 40 people could not be repealed.
I felt great and humbled, as a person, when Manju blessed me for a golden future and expressed lot of gratitude at the courage my father displayed which none of the predecessors could summon because of the risk involved.
As apprehended, the audit process was commissioned. This normally happens when the department can not appreciate but can object and put people into trouble. This is something which has been inherited by us from the British Raj. So it went for years. It extended till it was 10 years after papa retired from his service. He was put on a 50% pension, which was anyways just 40% of the actual salary.
He was bothered financially, and so was the family. But we were all serene and happy tidying over several turmoils in life. He never discussed the incidence ever, because his contributions was far more, in benefiting the lives of 40 families at the least. I was reminded of it whenever I discussed about certain problems in my career. He would ask me if at least one person was benefiting from whatever I was doing, because the rest of the thing is just part and parcel of life.
I knew I can just think of being a person of some value for just a fellow being at any given time, to be living a meaningful life.