My Muse – the Colour changes to Red

Subhash Mathur

Subhash Mathur was born and brought up in small towns in Rajasthan. During his school and college education at Jaipur, he was keenly involved in sports, journalism and public speaking. His civil services career has given him a platform for spreading his ideas about modernising tax administration to benefit the commmon man. Post retirement he is devoting his energies, along with his wife Tilak, to public and humane causes.

It’s Jolly [The Good Fellow Again].

Just as I was troubled while joining at various places of posting, farewells were equally difficult on several occasions.

Thus the transfer of Jolly to another north Indian Commissionerate and his farewell became embroiled in a controversy of humungous proportions. As it was, Jolly was not such a popular Commissioner. [They rarely are.] And his transfer got shrouded in mystery from day one.

One hot summer afternoon, a credible rumour started doing the rounds of our Revenue building that Jolly was finally transferred out of Jaipur. How could that be? All of us were ready to suffer another year of Merry Go Round of arbitrary transfers rotation and indignities.

Instantly, intense and fervent gossiping engulfed the thoughts and hearts of all. The origin was unknown but obviously it was a rumour to be believed! About time and too good to be doubted! Careful now! Even WE the Seniors were caught up in the excitement! I was one of them. And there were others. [Unlike ‘And Then There Were None’!]

All efforts to confirm the news met with half responses. And Innuendos. Possible? Three years are over! Yes, many complaints! Strike too! So, possible! Everything in this world is POSSIBLE! But probability?

But, can you confirm?

Hmm, let’s see.

Ok, will revert tomorrow!

And we all know tomorrow or Godot never come!

Also none of us could get hold of a copy. Even the normal friendly Board minions failed to satisfy the anxious souls in Jaipur.

We all wanted the Rumour confirmed. Badly! God, please please! Don’t let us down. Not one more time! ‘I will pay obeisance every Tuesday 8 am punctually for the next 3 months unfailingly!’ chanted one Assistant Commissioner. ‘After all I have been a Hanuman Bhakt for last 7 years! And Prasadam too! 11 rupees a day! Please! Fulfil our desires!’

We are the Faithful! It’s been three long years! Of torture and unwarranted transfers! And misery! [Some rights definitely accrue to me – hey Bhagwan maine tujh se aajtak kucch nahi maanga – a la Bacchan syndrome].

But fat chance! The only copy, if such a document did exist, was safely tucked away with Jolly! In his cupboard. Or wherever. His personal assistant stonewalled all queries.

‘No! I have not seen such an order in the Dak. Full stop!’

[Poor woman was obviously sworn into secrecy. Why should she incur Jolly’s wrath! And be damned forever!

Routine work came to a standstill. Rooms or corridors! Employees were huddled in groups! [Except of course the first floor – who wanted to invite Jolly’s wrath?] The discussions were serious and spoken with ambiguous authority. Everyone had a mole in the Board’s office! But it was hush hush and in whispers.

Yet no copy of the order! And lurkers? Simply shooed away! Untrustworthy guys! Informers to boot! We the Seniors were more circumspect but confident!

Yet with all our resources pooled together, we simply couldn’t confirm the rumour. What a pity, really! So much for power and contacts! Useless in crunch situations! Also no one wanted to call up the Board office and be identified in case the rumour was off the mark. Imagine the plight! So much scare! Yet, for reasons which I never fathomed, We the Seniors were confident. [I have always harboured a lurking suspicion that one amongst We the Seniors had a copy of the order but chose Not to share!]

And quietly we started celebrating everyday. Lunch in tucked-away eating joints! Over intense speculation! And Butter Chicken and Crisp Nan! Loved it! [The food I mean.]

Finally the most important day in our lives dawned! The most sought after transfer order in the History of Mankind was released by Jolly!!

Hajellulah! And Hail Mary! And Jai Hind!! Et all!

No one had any idea as to why Jolly released the order. But soon the word spread about Jolly’s intent to demit office on a particular day. Our best guess was that he had tried his damndest to get the order cancelled or modified. Having failed, he decided to move on. Imagine the secrecy and the stealth! Like a Cat on Hot Tin Roof!

Now the pace of Jubilation, Happiness and Joy knew no bounds! Everyone joined in black slapping and jovialities! It was a Hip Hip Hurray Moment! Smiles were back! Never off the face!

Now the nitty gritty of the burden fell upon We the Seniors. We were required to get our act together! And take action!

Organise the Farewell! [Shit!!] Transfer of a Collector would entail organising a large party on a grand scale in an upscale location etc, etc. Red carpet and live band! Besides the food spread and drinks! Plenty of them! Even more is not enough! Ever!

But all that was missing. Nobody wanted to take any initiative. No one wanted to organise a glitzy function. Can’t the guy just catch a train and GO! For God’s sake! Go man Go! [Like Go Indigo!] Enough is enough! Give us some space too!

No way! Things are never that simple. Egos have to be satisfied! Rituals have to followed! Why crib now?

Willy Nilly action was launched. So We the Seniors decided to take the call. We approached Jolly in a group and got a date for his farewell. It was a short and sweet meeting! Touché!

On the appointed evening, We the Seniors reached the Heritage Royal Palace Hotel well before Jolly’s arrival. Since it was Sun Downer time, the junior welcome party suggested and we accepted to while away the waiting in the air-conditioned Polo Bar with On the Rocks and delectable Sula Rolls. We were assured that we would be alerted just as Jolly left his residence. [No cell phones, no WhatsApp those days!]

Thus, in sincere belief of getting an early alert, we started relishing the Polo Bar hospitality and discussed the qualities of the incoming Collector? What else? It was too cosy and too comfortable an arrangement! And too good to last! Something had to give!

Of course disaster was waiting to Happen! And Happen it did!

Just like We the Seniors, the junior staff also took off for refreshments in a different lounge! And wait for the alert. And so the Waiting continued unabated. No one at the Lobby! The Alert never came. And the predictable happened!

Jolly with his spouse swept into the hotel driveway in style, in a shiny black Ambassador with flashing lights. And screeching tires. For the effect! Just like the Royals! The two turbaned Durwans opened the car doors with gentle Salaams! And utter humility. But Not a Soul from the Dept to meet and greet!

Shock! Trauma! Horror! Temerity! And all this with the Spouse in tow! How much could the poor fellow take?

The Turbaned Durwan proudly informed Jolly that all of us were in different bars of the hotel enjoying Royal hospitality! And awaiting His arrival! Glory to the High and Mighty!

It was a perfect Tinder box situation! And the Fire was lit! For sure! It was horror and disaster and catastrophe all rolled into one. We couldn’t have asked for a bigger Bloomer!

When We the Seniors got the whiff, we ran helter-skelter to the front lobby only to be confronted by an angry and furious Jolly. And rightly so!

The evening was an unmitigated disaster. Jolly launched into a harangue when he got the chance to address the ‘August’ gathering. It was diatribe! At its worst! We heard him in pin drop silence. And even clapped loudly for a full minute when he sat down fully exhausted! Our misery was complete!

The hall was suddenly hot. Even the air conditioning had deserted us! Finally the miserable evening came to an end with muted good byes and singing of ‘For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow’.

Next morning, We the Seniors mounted a massive ‘apology’ campaign but the damage had been done. Irretrievably! Jolly accepted the apology but never believed our sincerity. [Neither did we.]

Thus the Jolly saga for Jaipur Commissionarate came to an end. But on a sorry and sour note! All round! For once the fault squarely lay with We the Seniors! And we accepted our responsibility. Squarely.

Did I learn the right lessons? No! Nasty Farewells continued to Dog me throughout my career.



could we please have more of your experiences in Narcotics deptt

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