26 June 2017

Lord of the Files

We purchased our home quite a few years ago, a time when computers were not an integral part of the government machinery. As was the norm, the registration papers were retained by the Municipal authorities and owners retained photocopies. There was a central office that looked after registrations of the entire city. With burgeoning real estate, and scores of property registrations every day, one can only imagine the number of documents that had piled up. Where and how well were they stored were questions best left unasked.

I guess, the task of storage was eventually just too much and the Municipal Corporation decided to digitise the documents. This meant that owners could now collect their documents after producing the original registration receipt. We were happy as the property file with us would now be complete with original documents. The only problem was that in the interim 15 odd years, the procedure had been decentralised and we had no clue where to begin.

Inquiries got us redirected from office to office, table to table in true bureaucratic fashion. After many such fruitless searches, we landed at the correct place. Yay!! A pan chewing, dour faced man took our receipt and disappeared into a cavernous room and emerged after an eternity.

"नही मिला सहाब. १० दिन बाद आईये "
(Could not locate it Sir, come after 10 days)

A shrewd man that he was he had already guessed that we were from the Services.

Having assured us that he would locate the file, we returned hopefully 10 days later. Again he made a prolonged 'search' of his store room only to return empty handed.

"अभी नाही मिला . १० दिन बाद आना " he informed without any emotion.
(Still not found,come after 10 days)

My husband is a stickler for going by the book. And he is a patient man. He decided to give it another 10 days. At the third visit, there were others too waiting to get these precious files. When the Lord reemerged from his search, he had two of them in his hand. Every one surged expectantly towards the desk, but luck was not with us.

"8 दिन बाद" he said in the same expressionless voice.
(After 8 days)

The conversations were getting briefer as some folk lost their tempers. Couldn't blame them really, one of them was on his fourth trip each time taking a day off for this purpose.

A Peon explained that they had to first check if digitisation was complete and then locate and bring the file. All this takes time and entails a lot of work, he said with a wink.

Now we had already been cautioned that such jobs needed the owner to give incentives to the concerned person for his efforts! After all, he lorded over the files, looked after them, protected them from termites, water seepage, theft etc till the careless owners turned up to claim their original documents. A mammoth task indeed for a poorly paid government worker.

The file claiming procedure turned into a battle of patience and wills. The Lord of the Files on one side and a soldier on the other. My husband punctually showed up on the date prescribed by his Lordship and each visit lasted a couple of hours at least. 

This went on for about four months. He had visited all the cafes and street food joints in the vicinity and was now an authority on which one offered the best tea or sugarcane juice, which fans were serviceable in the office, which spot offered the maximum cell phone coverage and so on... 

Soon tempers showed signs of fraying and patience was wearing very thin...

Eventually, the 12th visit, was clincher. He deposited a dusty file with yellowing frayed papers in my husband's hands.

"मिलगया "

And the Lord of the Files actually smiled.
Patience Pays.

This is my post for the BAR-A-THON by Blog-A-Rhythm and the theme for June 26th 2017 is Lord of the Files. 

23 June 2017

War And Pieces

The rhythmic creak of the arm chair soothed the babies as they drifted into sleep in Neena's arms. They were just about a month old and soon she would not be able to hold them both simultaneously. She ignored her aching arms and relished their closeness. Her mind moved back and forth in time in tandem with the rocking movements.  Was it really only a year ago that Life meted out its lessons to her?

Barely out of her teens and already married, which was what her family arranged and she had acquiesced. Soon after they celebrated their first anniversary, Neena was already pregnant. Twins, the doctor said, and Sam was overjoyed. Double the joy he said! He made sure he was with her for every check up and stood by her through her phase of morning sickness. The nine months couldn't pass soon enough for him. Sam was due for a career course and decided to ask his Commanding Officer for a posting. Yet unexpectedly, his Unit was deployed in a conflict zone.With barely any time for farewells, the officers and men left without a backward glance. The operation turned into a prolonged one as causalities mounted. Some of the worst fears were realised and Neena was bereft. At the end of her third trimester, she remained confused and dazed not comprehending the storm that had hit her life. Her family took her home and what had was meant to be a rosy future suddenly turned dark.

Neena went through the final days of her pregnancy completely unaware of her surroundings. She cried all the time, but without understanding for whom.. was it for dear departed Sam who would never see his twins, was it for herself or for her  babies.. It was only when she held the boys in her arms for the first time that the enormity of her situation hit Neena....

She had no home. She was not financially literate. Would her graduation degree get a job of any kind? Could she bring up the boys single highhandedly? While her parents made all efforts to make her feel comfortable, how long could she depend on them? Relatives showed their true colours as being only fair weather friends and so-called friends were suddenly missing. Her in-laws were least interested in Neena's welfare or that of the boys.

The future was bleak. The war machine had taken its toll and left her life in pieces. Her sons innocent trusting smiles served as a wake up call and inspiration. The time to grieve was over. There was no time to cry or for self pity. It was up to her to pick up the pieces and rebuild her life again. She owed it to her sons. To Herself.

This is my post for the BAR-A-THON by Blog-A-Rhythm and the theme for June 23th 2017 is War And Pieces. It is my among my maiden attempts at fiction. Any resemblance to any individuals living or dead is purely coincidental.