Thursday, September 10, 2009


My work group in office had a leader who was famous for his strictness, loyalty to duty, work efficiency and punctuality. But he had that nasty habit of giving pin pricks to his subordinates and carrying false tales to his Boss, who unfortunately had a “bronze ear” for such things. Others knew it, but were helpless. There were also others in his vicious circle that gave him nice, colourful stories. That system worked much like the press reporters, the sub-editor and the editor. 

In the initial stages when I was placed in his group, he would expect me to feed information about others, which was not my cup of tea. From the outset, I had felt it was not proper of me to add salt and inform him untruth, which he seemed to dislike, because I had answered in a strong no! I later got to know his intentions, which were malicious. I could not react because I was a raw junior at that time. It went on for a few years and I was always given a raw deal in most of the day to day affairs, which was not profitable to him or the office. But he seemed to be getting kicks doing that, to his newest victim.

Allegation after allegation for trivial matters began to make me tense. Knowing me and my abilities, my colleagues knew he was having a hand in this mischief and were sympathetic, because his mischief was too well known. His role was indirect but that counted to the Boss. The tension that had built up all those years finally exploded one afternoon at another normal official matter which was handled arrogantly by the department head, The Boss. It was again clearly another piece of harassment. I decided enough was enough. Beware the fury of the patient man – so goes a proverb and was in demonstration. So there and then, my frustration found vent through a loud voice, which was shocking to others, and bang-slamming the door I left the room. It was an "un-me", because there was an enemy in envy! 

I was to make an official tour the next day and he was to clear the formality with just a signature, which he did not do. Instead, he threw the paper! But then I knew he was amidst a certain period where a hectic schedule had made him tense too, as he was the 'Convenor'.

So I decided to ask a couple of senior colleagues for suggestion. One that normally I turned to, was on leave and my next choice too was away. A third senior was available. I explained my plight and he suggested me to leave a note on his table and leave for tour. Just one sentence he wrote. It was a bold and daring one which no junior was thought to have courage to do, leave alone seniors. But I did. I left the note on the Boss’ desk and left.

I felt at being taken to a dead end and the only way out was to retaliate with boldness, unthinkable of me. It was a come-what-may situation. I had to put a “period” to all that and I thought it was the right time and that too by such a daring method. I left after duly explaining the matter to the head of administration and returned after a week.

The Boss was fuming hot, expectedly. That little note had kindled the fire in him: the tenor was such! Memorandum after memorandum followed, filled with flimsy allegations, trying to ‘build up a file’. To each one I replied with facts without hesitation (another senior colleague from another dept. helped me). The office issued another, stating that my explanations were not satisfactory, again as expected.

Probably by my bold and straight replies, the Boss and our group leader saw that I was too hot to handle. They probably felt that guilt. But mental tenseness continued. One night I went to the home of my first choice colleague who was on leave that eventful day, to ease my tension by discussing. He did give me the idea of a discussion with the Boss, it was actually he that mattered, not the pin-pricking group leader. But then I felt it would be in vain. For, he was the stubborn-stiff-neck type, strict in office, not easily approachable, but had the hidden quality of a kind man. I found an advantage there, because he too was a victim of “that man’s” antics many years before and now he was displaying “bronze ears” (by then he had replaced the other bronze-eared Boss). I decided to play on that and demanded an explanation for his “behaviour”. I also told him that I knew he was a kind man and asked why he was doing such things to me. I had also the daring to tell him on his face that nobody liked his overall behaviour! He just listened. He let out the cat when I reminded his own suffering earlier under “that man” and asked if he was bronze-eared too. He said nodding, “yes”! Imagine a subordinate asking his Boss all that!

That hour-long discussion in his chamber changed things on both sides. I had wanted a change in groups to get away from the wicked clutches of “that man”, the group leader, which happened soon, much to my delight. I was relieved of pin pricks and was giving more attention to the new job in a more relaxed and efficient manner.

Gradually, probably having realized his official image (!) by my ‘outburst’, the Boss also changed his style of functioning, for good, which all of us got to notice. I told him on his face "Do you think the colleagues are liking your ways?; You are listening to the false tales that man is carrying to you." He never expected such a thing from as small a fellow as me.  By the time he retired, he was such a mellowed person who was thanking people for trivial things. He never did it in his 'hey days'.  That man, the group leader who too retired before the Boss remained the same.  I am sure my outburst was an eye-opener for him, but he was not expected to give credit to me for this, because I was so small!

Had my first choice, who is a soft person, attended office that day, I probably would have continued to get pin pricks and a solution to that problem would have delayed! Was it destiny that led me to a more daring person for suggestion, I know not. Whatever, now long later, I recollect this period with a sense of satisfaction. Attitudes, environs, reactions and responses are all different in 'private offices' where the boss can 'fire' the employee, but this was in a place too different from that. Hence all such.

Could destiny rest in someone's hands? Can you say no?

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