Working as an Accountant in a large branch was a difficult job for a junior direct recruit officer in a bank. More so, when one had to work under a dynamic Agent/Manager with one or two staff union leaders working within the same branch. I had to accept the assignment reluctantly since the alternative was a managership of a very remote rural branch.
It was the month of February. Lot of planning was going on for carry over of old ledgers apart from the routine balancing work and other jobs in connection with yearly closing in March. Mr. V P Joshi, cashier came to me with a request for long leave for forty days. The reason......to give tuition to his son for the annual public examination. He further explained that his son fell short of fifty percent in Math during the model examination and he would teach him at home to score a full one hundred in the final exams. I said that because of the ensuing closing work, he might avail only ten to fifteen days. He even claimed that he was offered the bank job without his applying for it. I stood my ground and asked him to reduce the leave. Soon the union leaders intervened. They started arguing that I was a bachelor and I was not in the know of family responsibilities. Ultimately the matter went to the manager who graciously agreed to the leave.
The union leaders had a grudge against me for other reasons too. I had stopped smoking in the banking hall. This was silently objected to because the manager himself was allowing it in his cabin on the pretext of customer service. Another irritant was Heera Bai the ‘badli’ sweeper. In spite of best efforts, I could not terminate her services as the leaders were in support of her. Her work was just mediocre. Her dress sense was worse. I wondered whether Raj Kapoor copied her attire for Zeenat Aman in Satyam Sivam Sundaram, or Heera started imitating Zeenat after seeing the movie?! The problem was that the so called "smokers" thronged in the dining hall when Heera Bai went there for cleaning. She too never objected to their presence there. Though the lady staff members were not in agreement for the happenings, nothing could be done by me to put an end to that practice.
Mr. Joshi resumed duty after leave in a very jubilant mood having achieved something great. After the exam results were announced, I demanded sweets from Joshi. But he didn't move. He was very upset. His son had failed in Math! And when Mrs Joshi called on at the branch, I ascertained the reason. She revealed that Joshi had taught their son Math in the old method. His son didn't get the marks as the sums were answered without detailing the steps as required in New Math, which was totally unknown to Joshi. Everyone in the branch laughed our hearts out!!
During the period of leave, I could learn facts about how Joshi got recruited in the bank. In olden days prior to nationalisation, the appointment was done as per the preference of the local executive. Once the local Superintendent of the bank had visited his relative in Raviwar peth. The lady of the house told him about her son who had just passed B.Com with a first class. The superintendent noted his name and passed the details to his deputy for sending an offer letter. Joshi is one of the commonest surnames in Poona. If you throw a stone in a crowd, the probability of it hitting a Joshi or a Kulkarni is at least ten percent......!
The post man delivered the envelope to our friend Joshi. He was elated. He came with the letter and joined the Bank. After about nine months the executive again visited the same house. The lady politely complained about his not keeping his promise. The enquiries made at the office revealed that the candidate had already joined months ago and he was confirmed in service after six months probation only a couple of months back......!
The lucky Joshi who had only a third class in BA (History) could get a permanent job in the bank......and he was working in my branch. Though his name was Vishnu Pandurang Joshi, some of the colleagues called him B P Joshi. .....B being a short form of Benami.....!. The names of the genuine Joshi started with Vivek Parameshwar. The post man made an unintentional mistake and it became a jackpot for our BP.....!
The "real" V P was given an appointment letter later and he joined the bank. He did well in the bank to rise to a very good position before retirement...
Recently I had been to Pune, to attend a marriage. I met BP....He had retired as a special assistant. His son did not go for any higher studies. He was running a successful business. BP was busily engaged in helping him with his knowledge of Banking and Accounts. His daughters were also married and settled. He had made wise investment in land in Baner much before the express way was built. He owned a big bungalow in Sahakar Nagar where he had settled happily making the best of life spending the past forty five years continuously in the same city.
I could not but think about myself who went for career pursuits craving for promotions and accepting over twenty pan India transfers spanning a minimum of six states thereby draining our own resources. And never went backwards in learning, about forwards, handling hedge funds, different options and understanding investment fluctuation reserve funds, etc, etc, for the sake of the bank and the corporate clients.
But after superannuation, sheltered in a small, two bedroom flat remitting the ever rising health insurance premiums and praying to the Almighty against availing benefits under the policy. I remain active in social circles provided by the technology and craving to be touch with the only daughter settled abroad.....!
Though BP was poor in teaching Math, he was wise enough in planning for his life by making the correct savings and investment and ultimately settling very comfortably in life.....!
Note....All names have been changed, but the incidents are real...