Friday, April 23, 2010

Names not Changed

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It promised to be a bad hair day for Bhawani. She had woken up with a splitting headache. A hectic day, fourth in a row, lay ahead. She had spent a good part of the previous day in Russel Town where the National Adventure Foundation had exposed the boys and the girls under her charge, as the sun smote hard, to mountaineering and crossing the river on ropes. During the two days before that, the kids were introduced to the nuances of multiple intelligence by a team of experts led by an HR consultant under the stewardship of the imaginative staffer from the popular newspaper. And the project involved three more days with these bundles of boundless energy.
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She had always enjoyed the company of youngsters immensely. Wherever her husband had been posted, she had taken up a teaching job – it did not matter if it was a college or a primary school. It was not the material benefit she was looking for, but the pleasure of the company of the younger generation. That was why she had accepted the offer to coordinate the activities of the under the Newspapers in Education Programme. She had enjoyed organising the workshops where the children were exposed to diverse aspects from Kathakali to Shakespeare, from mathematics to photography, from music to film-making.
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Though one again grows young in the company of youngsters, the inexorable progress of age cannot be arrested, she realised. You just cannot catch up with them any more, she thought to herself. Not just that, a surfeit – two week-long programmes in quick succession in the space of three weeks - does cause ‘indigestion’, Bhawani told herself as she sipped her morning cuppa. True, she was not new to rearing children, but bringing up one’s own two boys within the confines of a home was one thing, but giving a bunch of fifty-one teenagers the liberty to do their own thing out in the open, all the while keeping them out of harm’s way was an altogether different proposition.
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The day’s newspaper did nothing to cheer her up: the headlines cried out ‘90 killed in Riyadh Blasts’ and such off-putting tidings from abroad and within. In a desultory manner, she picked up a clutch of old newspapers. A glance at them did not improve matters: they talked of corruption in high places, indiscipline among the youth and the nexus between criminals on the one hand and bureaucrats and politicians on the other. It had become an all-pervasive malaise, she concluded. What is the world coming to?
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Force of habit took her to the personal computer – there might be a message from Gautam who was away in Mumbai doing his degree course. He was supposed to have had joined her for the summer holidays but a parallel course he had joined and the long queue at the railway counter had kept him away. In the circumstances, a message from him was the most she could expect. One to be satisfied with minor thrills like a message, Bhawani looked at the lumniscent screen.
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One on the messages in the inbox was from Ankur Garg. It read:
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Respected Ma'am,
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I express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to you for your very encouraging and affectionate message congratulating me on my making it to the Indian Administrative Service. It is only due to the keen personal interest taken by dedicated and committed teachers like you that I was able to achieve this success.
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In fact, just two days before I got your greetings, I enquired about your address from Sister Annette (the new Principal at Our Lady Fatima School), and she said she would positively help me in securing the same. I was sure, ma'am. that you would be one person who would be very happy on receiving this news, and had an intuitive feeling that I would receive some communication from you side.
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I still recall the days in 1994 when you always used to ask us to keep ourselves up-to-date on all the current affairs, and even during the history classes, you used to ask questions on GK. They have since continued to be a source of inspiration for me.
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Ma'am, I realise that more than an honour, this is a huge responsibility which has been vested in me and my fellow students by an expectant nation. I hope we are able to come up to their expectations. I hope that we don’t let the people of India down, and in that endeavour I shall need your continuous guidance, support and above all, blessings.
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My sister Neha was extremely happy when I told her that I received a congratulatory message from you. The first question she asked me was, 'Did ma'am remember me?' and I said, 'Yes Neha, your name was right on the top of the card' and she was genuinely overjoyed. For you, we shall always remain children. :)
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Please convey my best wishes to all the members of your family.
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Best Regards,
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Ankur
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P.S. - i was sooooooooooooooo happy to receive your message ma'am. thanks a lottt...
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Ankur Garg
37, Khalsa College Colony,
Patiala – 147 001.

0175-2301190
09814228929

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She recalled that a fortnight back when the results of the Civil Services Examination were announced, Bhawani was not surprised to see Ankur’s name topping it. She had taught him history in the school in Patiala which she had served for a couple of years, but did not know how to reach him. Yet, she decided to take a gamble: she picked out a UNICEF card and scribbled a message on it, wrote ‘Mr Ankur Garg, IAS Topper, C/o Our Lady Fatima School, PATIALA 147 001 Punjab’ on it and mailed it with a prayer.

Ankur’s response, his realisation of the responsibility on his young shoulders, his debt to the nation, his hope of rising to the expectations of the nation, his prayer that he does not let the people of India down, all drove away the negative thoughts and feeling of being unwell from her mind. She picked herself up and went about her daily chores. This e-mail message had made her day.

5 comments:

tagskie said...

Nice blog you got here... Just droppin' by to say hi! http://www.arts-and-entertainment.info

Hapi said...

hello... hapi blogging... have a nice day! just visiting here....

A Stoic said...

...the boy writes bureaucratese even before he is in there.....

joven said...

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wannabe said...

Thanks, Tagskie, Hapi and Joven.

A Stoic, I could not see much bureaucratese in the letter.

In case it is there, putting things on its head, it could be because he writes bureaucratese that he made it to the IAS in the first place!