Job Chapter16 of Memory a Novella
Written for Nanowrimo extention
Copyright (c) Soumya Mukherjee
The patient reader who has been following the story may have wondered how the delinquent ended up employed in a respectable profession. Here is the story. It was all thanks to the college Don of the gang lord kind, not the academic; Bhai.
Boy met Bhai in the Government Hostel housing students from various disciplines in the University. Seats were allotted discipline or institution wise, based on merit, with the usual reservation for various sectors. The actual number of students staying illegally far exceeded the allotted seats.
Boy was always good at MCQ tests that did not require in depth Domain Knowledge. Tests of Reasoning came easy to him, and Verbal skills were taken care of by his obsession with Wodehouse. Thus having scored very well in the University Admission Tests, he secured a prized Hostel seat, and promptly collected illegal guests who matched his bohemian lifestyle and settled in.
Here he met an interesting selection of students from diverse backgrounds. In his earlier elite college, there were kids from all over the country and abroad, but who all fell in the same broad socio economic and cultural grouping of elitist anglicised achievers. Here, he was attracted to the groups who were completely alien to his experience.
Bhai was from the heartland, and looked down upon the effete products of the ‘Santo ki Kalij’ as he termed Boy’s Alma Mater, and bullied them for entertainment. But the brotherhood of the inebriated soon melted barriers, and the Don was impressed that there could be regular guys from such rarefied institutions, took Boy under his wing and decided to teach him about the real world.
This included spoken Hindi, abuses in various dialects, how to steal petrol from bikes, “borrow” random bikes, or even cars, sell cinema tickets on the black-market, eat for free in restaurants, watch films for free, procure tickets for sold out shows, browbeat timid looking people, relieve rich kids of excess cash by involving them in card games, acquire all types of goods and services which the law of the land had prohibited; basically the skill set necessary for urban survival.
Boy had taken a summer job where he had to convert answers to questionnaires into binary cards for a market research firm. He took it to be in an air-conditioned environment to beat the Delhi summer, meet girls and earn some pocket money.
Bhai came to investigate where his protégé was disappearing every day, and understanding how the system worked, immediately hatched a money making plan.
On his instructions, Boy struck a deal with his employers. After ascertaining, what they expected as a good man days work, he offered to take up a contract for a week’s work for ten students, to be delivered the next day. Intrigued, the boss agreed to the scheme. They then proceeded to take the workload to the Hostel, where the Dons henchmen rounded up dozens of unfortunate freshmen undergoing their “Ragging” initiation rites, and promptly put them to work translating the data into the cards, with the stipulation that it must be completed overnight.
The Boss was thrilled to see such instant results. Boy and Bhai organised a major bacchanal with the resultant bonanza. Thus the idea of outsourcing with slave labour was born.
Bhai ensured that Boy passed his exams despite not attending any classes by extorting the notes of the diligent students for him by the use of innovative threats, and even organised special night long coaching for him from these same unfortunate students on the nights before the exams. He also provided the pharmaceutical help to stay up through the nights AND the subsequent examination days.
The major pastime of Delhi University students is preparing for the marathon Civil Services Examinations. The first part was MCQ, which along with general IQ and Verbal knowledge tests, had one subject and General Knowledge as well. Boy’s habit of indiscriminate reading had his GK quite up to par, and his concepts on the subject he was supposed to be studying were quite clear, plus his penchant for MCQs ensured that he could clear this round without having to get sober. But the second round of detailed domain knowledge was beyond him, having practically dropped out of college by then.
Bhai was very impressed with Boy’s MCQ test clearing abilities. He had seen Boy clear the dreaded CAT exams earlier while barely sober. Bhai had hijacked a blazer, coaxed him into a haircut and shave; and sent him for the interview for the prestigious Management institutes. But the blazer wasn’t enough to counter Boy’s Marxist ranting during the interview, and he was laughed out of a place, much to his relief, by the board.
Bhai now provided a solution.
“Look, we are from the middle class, and will soon need to have some job to earn a living.
Corporate sector won’t hire you if you talk such rubbish.
Our parents think that we will be Civil Servants. But we should know our limitations. We can never get around to working hard enough to make it.
During the first attempt, we will be fussed over at home, as a future IAS. During the second, they would have cooled off. During the third, they will throw the roti at us.
Let us try for the Public Sector Companies instead. You can get jobs there by marking ticks on the paper. And they won’t mind your dress sense or crazy ideas.
All these studious classmates will join the same companies after failing the Civils thrice. We will be their bosses and rag them then”
He proceeded keep track when vacancies were declared, as Boy was too lazy to care; pay for Boy’s forms, as he was too broke to buy them himself; filled them for him, as he was too laid back to do so; wake him up on the exam mornings, drop him to the exam centres on “borrowed” bikes.
Boy duly cleared the exams. His kindly interviewers gently chided him and told him what not to say in interviews, but proceeded to select him anyway. Boy chose the job with the earliest joining date, and continues there till today. Bhai’s prediction turned out to be accurate, and many contemporaries, after unsuccessful attempts for the IAS, have joined his company as his juniors.
Bhai himself is leading a quiet life in some backwaters, as his colourful and mercurial career has suffered a setback due to some change in political fortunes.
Boy thankfully acknowledges the debt of this unlikely coach, a college gang boss, for getting him thus respectably employed.