The Officer With A Tight Smile!

Ranjan was a lowly officer in the huge private organization specializing in film and video productions. However, despite his low rank he had been making a lot of creative contributions in various stages of productions for which he never received any official recognition as was usual with the bureaucratic hierarchy, only the concerned superior at times praised his efforts. But Ranjan had always been happy that the persons in the power circles who matter knew exactly what he could accomplish in his specializations which were often unlimited. In fact, he had been doing more extra professional work than what he was officially supposed to do or assigned to do. He also enjoyed the bureaucratic behaviour patterns in full display all around, and was convinced that the typical bureaucracy was as palpable in private offices as in government services, the latter being normally blamed for the red-tape mind-set. Therefore, he was hardly surprised when he was called by a superior officer to help in some matters that officially did not concern Ranjan. He expected the same thing as always—that this particular superior too would get the job done by him and boast of the accomplishment as his own to his bosses.


That particular superior, called Dinkar by name, headed a section entirely different from Ranjan, and under normal circumstances they never collaborated or even met regularly. Anyway, Ranjan knew Dinkar perfectly well; his behaviour patterns and moods. Dinkar was of medium height and dark complexioned, of a stocky-muscular build and had an almost bald head with only a few strands of grey hair appearing haphazardly on the sides. His face was long like a horse and he maintained a French-cut grey beard very painstakingly. Ranjan particularly enjoyed his shining head against daylight as well as any artificial lamps, and at times he seemed to see his image reflected on the bald shining surface. 

Dinkar always wore a tight smile while dealing with his subordinates; however, Ranjan saw a lot of his teeth whenever he was loitering around his superiors and mostly in the general meetings when all the bosses were present, and Dinkar always placed himself close enough in the seating arrangement; at times he used to occupy the stage too with the bosses as was so required. Unfortunately, Ranjan was not aware of one of Dinkar’s various traits and he realized it much too late. Perhaps, he reasoned, Dinkar’s subordinates were scared of discussing that particular trait openly which could hamper their performance assessment reports.


Ranjan entered Dinkar’s elegant wood-paneled and acoustically decorated chamber. He was occupying his high-backed cushioned chair expansively like a benevolent king. He welcomed Ranjan with his usual tight-lipped smile and asked him to take a seat. Without beating around the bush with inanities Dinkar came to the point straightaway. The job was simple, but unusual as per Ranjan’s specializations. There was going to be a special event involving outside film and video makers, artistes and other dignitaries in a fortnight at the huge auditorium of their organization. What Dinkar wanted from Ranjan was that he had to draft and to design a very uncommon and unique invitation letter that would really excite the invitees. And he wanted the job fully done from Ranjan’s side in two days so that the printing work could start immediately thereafter. Ranjan accepted and left promising him several drafts and designs on the morrow. A cup of tea was conspicuously but expectedly absent.


As promised Ranjan delivered several computer-designed alternatives with different texting matter and different styles of fonts and colors for Dinkar’s approval. Dinkar, fortunately, got fascinated by one of the drafts and approved it instantly, keeping it a surprise for his bosses too. He thanked Ranjan profusely, still not showing his teeth and without a cup of tea. Ranjan wished his all success for the event and left happily.


As the big event drew near Ranjan was excited to be receiving the invitation letter he himself had designed and to be mixing with a lot of film and television stars. He was surprised when the invite did not arrive at his desk even on the day before the event. He thought, perhaps office people were spared the formalities of official invites and that Dinkar would personally call him up anytime up to the morning of the event. He also considered calling Dinkar up inquiring about the preparations, but felt hesitant as he decided that Dinkar should be courteous enough to invite him personally. He waited for the invitation in whatever form, and even dressed with care on the morning of the event.


Absolutely nothing of that sort happened. Ranjan was agitated, restless, melancholic and also angry. He helplessly watched a whole lot of beautiful cars entering the campus from the window of his office room.


Out of his frustration and anger Ranjan mentioned and discussed this atrocious behaviour of the superior with his colleagues the next day. And then he came to know of that particular one of the various traits of Dinkar. That particular characteristic was to religiously follow the ‘use and throw policy’ like we do with the ball pens. Several juniors reported to him sullenly about this policy: Dinkar would ask people to do jobs out of turn for him and then would dispose of them as if nothing was the matter.


Suddenly feeling light Ranjan muttered to himself, ‘to hell with you, you horsy horrendous devil! What have you achieved, you cheat? Used me and then threw me out. Okay, you can do it only once. Next time you call me for anything you’d get to know the kind of person I am…!’ All the while he was toying with the glass paperweight on his desk, as if relishing the idea of throwing it squarely at that shining head or to blow his face hard so that those hiding teeth of his come protruding out.


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