Chellamuthu was extremely hassled! Mr. Ravi Kumar, IAS had taken charge as Assistant Commissioner and from the moment he had done so, had started giving his PA a lot of things to do. But the worst part of doing things for his new boss were the dead lines. This man seemed to want something done the moment he said it!! So different from his former boss he sighed..
Mr. Ramajayam had not believed in doing things in a hurry. Infact the longer something took the better it seemed to him. The delay caused resulted in people coming to visit him, bringing gifts ,all of which he shared liberally with others in the office.
Chellamuthu pulled out his chair and sat in front of the computer. As he switched it on, he looked at Vijaya sitting behind the glass partition in the dispatch section. She was wearing a thin yellow saree . Chellamuthu craned his neck to see if he could get a glimpse of anything through her pallu.. No chance!!! She had pleated it and pinned it firmly to her shoulder.
But he seemed to be in luck where Aruna, the Commissioner’s PA was concerned. She was busy doing some filing. As she bent down to retrieve some papers he got an eyeful of what he was looking for!!! “Ahh! “ he thought lasciviously wondering if he should go up to her and pretend to help her with picking up the papers. But he was a not sure what would be her reaction. After all, she reported to his boss’s boss!
Aruna in the meanwhile had got a hint of what was going on in Chellamuthu’s mind. She looked up from her filing and glared at him! This man was just too much! Spent all his time leering at the women in the office. She had a good mind to report him one of these days to the sexual harassment committee . But then ,as Arulmozhi the head clerk said “What will we complain about? That he leers at us? Nobody will believe it” Well anyway, Mr. Ravi Kumar was bound to keep him busy. So there would be less of the leching and leering.
As if in answer to what was going on in Aruna’s mind, the intercom on Chellamuthu’s desk buzzed. “Yes saar. Yes saar” he said and scuttled inside with his pad and pen in hand as Aruna heaved a sigh of relief!
Inside, he found his boss in a very bad mood.
“Chellamuthu. Where are the 1950 gazette notification documents on urban land ceiling revision” he asked him in irritation.
“Saar.. that is very old date. It will not be in the files in the section” he muttered.
“I know. It is history as far as you people are concerned. But history is not divorced from the present. I need to understand some of the critical changes that happened during that time. So, if it is not in the section then where is it? Is there a library or something where it is archived?” he asked
Chellamuthu was getting confused. As far as he knew there was nothing like that in the department. He looked around the room nervously until his eyes rested on that book case behind the Assistant Commissioner’s desk.
“Saar. I think it may in that book shelf there. Please give me some time and I will have it ready” he said.
“Okay. Do that. I need to have it by the afternoon tomorrow” he said as he started getting his things ready to leave for his meeting at the Secretariat.
Chellamuthu was left eyeing the book case uneasily.. Now, he had to come up with some blessed gazette document from the 1950s!! He opened the door and called out to Raja the Office assistant.
Raja walked in whistling a tune and did a small dance step as Chellamuthu instructed him on taking out the documents. An aspiring Prabhu Deva, he was not interested in doing any of this dusting work. He waited until Chellamuthu finished talking and then sauntered out. Chellamuthu was exasperated.
He wanted to yell at this arrogant fellow. But he knew he could not, He was trapped in this situation because Raja knew his little secret! He knew about the treasures that he kept locked in his lower drawer….! Treasures that he did not want anyone to know that he possessed – pictures of women with impossible mammary glands! He cursed his wife and his nosy extended family that made it necessary for him to keep these things here and be subjected to black mail by creatures like Raja…!
He sighed as he squatted near the book case and started taking out the thick volumes coated with even thicker volumes of dust! “Oh god this dust..” he thought as he was hit by a bout of sneezing. “Achhoo! Achhoo! “ he went on for about five minutes, in the process upsetting more of the contents from the shelf.
As the bout subsided he started wiping his nose with a handkerchief and gathering the scattered books and papers. Suddenly, his eyes fell upon a paper back. What was this? Looked like a book of some sorts.
A man who had spent over fifty years of his life reading books and magazines covered with newspapers, he was not one to be deceived by the cover of any book even if all that it had was the picture of a tie on it. He started flipping through the pages…. Suddenly his eyes rested on a few words. He stopped, reading on fascinated..! The squatting was making him uncomfortable. He sat down more comfortably and continued reading it goggle eyed.. His eyes opened wider and beads of perspiration started forming above his lips..! Oh my God! This was exactly his kind of a book. Who would have thought it was lying hidden here in a bookshelf? He started reading with fascination stopping only once in a while to regret his schooling in vernacular which made it difficult for him to read English quickly.
His fantasies were rudely disturbed by the sound of the Assistant Commisisoner’s voice outside the room. Oh God, why was his boss back he thought as he hurriedly shoved the book right at the back of the book shelf before arranging the volumes quickly outside it.
Ravi Kumar walked in looking at his PA with irritation, The meeting had been cancelled and now he had come back to spend the rest of the afternoon in a dust ridden office. He glared at Chellamuthu who was trying to get up from his sitting position ”What are doing sitting down like that over there” “Saar… I was looking for that gazette” he said before scuttling out of the room.
Ravi Kumar stared at Chellamuthu’s back in distaste. This man was a slippery character that much he was sure of! God knows how many such slithery characters were around in this department! One could never be too sure he thought as he sat down on his chair and turned around on it.
His eyes fell on the dusty book shelf . “The furniture here is as dirty as the morals of the employees he thought with disgust!” Corruption! How he hated it. He wished he could clean it all up but obviously, it was not going to be easy.
He stared at the half open door to the book case. It all looked very fishy. Why had that Chellamuthu run out like an injured fox on seeing him?
He walked up to the book shelf and pushed open the door.
No sooner had the door opened that a few of the volumes of books kept on the outside started tumbling out. Ravi quickly jumped aside to avoid being hit by them.
He looked at the volumes of books and files at his feet. And among all of them lay what looked like a paper back novel.
“What is THIS”? he asked himself as he picked up. He whistled as he read the title. A very well read and well informed man, he did not need to be told what this book was all about.
“But how did it get here? “ he thought to himself puzzled.. Whatever it was he could not leave it lying around here. He opened his satchel and pushed it absentmindedly into the back compartment.
He had to find a way to clean up all this filth in this department. Another point added to his one point agenda of ensuring a clean government.
He pressed the buzzer and when Raja arrived asked him to tell the driver to get the car ready. He wanted to go home. He had enough of the Urban land ceiling and land revenue department for the day!
The moment he was sure that his boss had left the building Chellamuthu rushed in to his room and made a beeline for the bookshelf. He had a good one hour to catch up on his reading before the day came to an end! But unfortunately for him, the book seemed to have disappeared. He pulled out all the books and volumes but no.. it was no where to be found!
Mr Chellamuthu was now seriously worried! What had happened to this piece of literature? He sincerely hoped that Raja had not laid his hands on it planning to black mail him later once again…! His hands started sweating in anxiety.
(to be continued)