July 6, 2015. It was 9:00 in the morning and I found myself standing before the gates of a government office. I was welcomed by closed gates and an old rusty lock followed by a long queue. One hour went by yet the gates were still closed. On the other hand, a small road-side tea stall was running at peak efficiency as the queue continued to elongate. By 10:30 am I gave in to the temptation and allowed myself the only solace that place could offer – a lukewarm cup of tea.
At 11:00 am, an old man riding an old bicycle arrived at the place. Going by his appearance, he must be an office assistant or better known as “peon” in colloquial style. I threw aside the third paper cup of tea and prepared myself for the task ahead. To my surprise that old man walked past the closed gates to the tea stall and ordered himself a tea. Even though I had enough caffeine in my blood, I was enraged but left speechless by the cynical smile of that old person as he surveyed the queue while sipping the tea under his thick grey mustache.
Before entering into the office people would walk by that old man, exchanging pleasant greetings. In his nonchalant manner, he would take out a token number from his pocket and keep the money offered by those people in the other. I, on the other hand, completely ignored him as he was no more than a gate-keeper to me. I am an educated, young man – fully capable of handling such chores on my own.
When I stepped inside the office, all counters were busy attending to the people who had that token number. I continued my futile attempts at requesting attention from the office staff. By noon, I had made no progress except that I had visited all the counters twice. With my head down, I was lamenting the sorry state of this office. I could feel the old man’s eyes boring deep into my soul.
Finally, I walked up to the old man for that token and I could read “I had told you before” from his expressions. For my conscience, I looked at it as a premium service. In next 15 minutes, I accomplished my task albeit not the way I had thought. But one thing I did learn – I now knew who’s the true king of this kingdom.
Image by Pradeep Prakash