So there was this friend of mine who had to go pay her electricity bill and then get to work. To her dismay, she found a long line of people waiting in line to pay their bills. That day she learnt not to wait for the last day to pay a bill. As you will see, a lesson well learnt.
So as she resigned herself to being late to work and getting half a day’s pay getting cut by getting in line, she knew that the boss was wasn’t going to happy. But this was more important. If she didn’t pay the bill today, a lot of other people wouldn’t be happy what with the earth-scorching heat in India rendering even industrial strength fans useless.
So there she stood, drops of sweat dripping down her forehead one by one like the ticking of the seconds hand on her watch. One bill got paid, two, three, four… and then something happened.
A man and someone who appeared to be his valet came into the office. They discussed something and the valet stepped into the back of the queue as his employer went striding directly into the office, not giving a damn to the incredulous looks of all those awaiting their turn.
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All this took place in slow motion for her. You see, time tends to slow down the longer you stand in a queue. Every minute becomes longer then the next and one gets the time to ponder upon every thought running in one’s mind till they simply run out eventually.
It was only after she had exhausted every other thought that her mind, craving activity, demanded that she divert herself studying those destined to sweat it out along with her to avoid doing so at home later.
It was then that the man and his valet had appeared from the sunlit doorway and proceeded to do the things they had.
Fast forwarding to five minutes later, when the man came out of the office, summoned his valet to get out of line and bring his car around. Their work there was done, the bill paid, the tea probably drunk and all without breaking a single drop of sweat.
Aghast was the word that she used to describe the expressions of her co –queue mates. Piercing stares followed the couple out the doors, looks probably reserved for the most hateful of criminals and dictators.
And the moment they left, chaos erupted throughout the office. And by chaos, I mean a wild, shouting, discourteous discourse between all those standing in the line. Maybe it wasn’t so dramatic but I’ve been assured it wasn’t murmured whispering of dissent either. Everyone was up in arms about the way that man’s bill had been paid for he had definitely come to pay the bill and he had done it by cutting the queue.
Cutting a queue is considered an act that is viler than even murder in India.
With such a population, queues always seem to be longer than the importance of work to be accomplished at the end of them. And although corruption is an accepted part of life now (debatable), it still invokes the kind of powerless hatred that comes with not being able to stop people who engage in it.
At the end of this incident, an old woman made a very compelling statement that struck right at the heart of “educated” society. She said, and I paraphrase, “The way these literate people behave, it’s better to be illiterate.”
Such a poignant statement from one so experienced is not to be taken lightly and although the lady may be making a gross generalization enveloping all kinds of people under one umbrella of honesty and corruption, the thought dos have merit, at least in this case.
The Million Dollar Question
Assuming that you who read this are literate, allow me to pose a question:
Is the educated Indian really working towards abolishing corruption or engaging even more in its depravity?