Thursday, August 10, 2006

Justice Prevails!

Last Friday we celebrated Varalakshmi Puja. My mind raced back to the same day five years back. The memory was not a pleasant one but then one cannot always hope to see only good things in life. This was an experience that caused a lot of anguish but it also served as an eye opener to me.

I had just finished my lunch when the telephone rang. It was my good friend Rajam, the librarian, calling me immediately after getting home. It must have been around two in the afternoon. Those days we worked from 7.30 in the morning till 1.30 in the afternoon. She knew that I was busy but the news must have been urgent and so it was.

“ Two of our bahadurs have been transferred.” She said, “One to Dhurva and the other to Daltonganj. They have been asked to vacate their quarters immediately. They’ve left the college and no one knows where they have gone.”

The news came as a shock to me. The Principal had victimized both of them for reasons that cannot be elaborated here. In an earlier post I had made a passing mention that our founder Principal treated us like family and the spirit continued even after her death. The two gatekeepers were mild mannered, even-tempered, polite and respectful. Every morning we’d be greeted with a warm smile and a ‘namaste didi’. The new principal, who chose to believe that peons and the like should not have a mind of their own, had tormented them ever since she took charge. She cut off their water supply and expected them to come begging for water. They opted to fetch water from a common tap rather than feel obliged to her. They were not the only ones to be tortured. She troubled all staff-members, teachers included, and had managed to terrify most of them. By transferring these two she was only warning the rest of us and saying ‘Beware! You will meet a similar fate if only you dare to defy me!’

Now that the transfer orders had been dispatched from the Vice Chancellor’s office the two gatemen had no option but to join duty at the assigned colleges and approach the university authorities for reconsideration. I sat wondering what could be done to help the two men. It was a Friday and they had time till Monday to join. I tried contacting a few of my colleagues but as luck would have it my phone was dead. The colleges assigned to them were in remote areas and one of the gatemen had children studying in school. His wife was working in a private college as a peon. Where had the two bahadurs vanished and why did they vacate their quarters I wondered. And why was the joining time so short? I did not have to be a genius to figure out that the principal had used her clout and influenced the authorities to hasten the process.

My husband came home form office. I told him of our bahadur’s transfer. He assured me of his support in whatever I chose to do. I was in a safe position. My daughters were already married and had settled down abroad. My son was in his final year at college. I had a supportive husband. In the worst case the principal could get me also transferred to some god forsaken place and show to the world that she was the boss. Why not? I thought. A new place and a new environment was not a bad idea. My dilemma reached its logical end. I decided to stand up for our gatemen and face the consequence. But heart of hearts I knew that nothing would happen to me. She had already bitten more than she could chew in my case, when she tried to withhold an arrear payment. Moreover, I was not alone. There was a group that played safe and another that took risks. I belonged to the second group. My experience told me that she troubled the ‘yes ma’am’ group more than us. We for our part took care not to break rules or give a chance to fingers being pointed at us.

During the weekend we drafted a letter to the Hon’able Chancellor who was none other than the Governor of Jharkhand. We got as many as possible to sign a petition, favoring the victims, addressed to the Vice Chancellor. Three of us went to Ranchi on Monday morning along with the two bahadurs. We spoke to the officer in charge at the Chancellor’s office and met the VC, pro VC and the Registrar of the university. We made the two gatemen convey their point of view and requested them to reconsider the case. We had tears in our eyes when we left them at Ranchi to join their respective colleges. But we also felt a satisfaction of having done our bit.

When we went to college the next day there was excitement in the air. The principal was trying hard to find out who went with those two. She remained ignorant till the end.

The Chancellor’s office ordered a probe and within two months the two gatemen were back. The principal was transferred to a better and bigger college so we could not make out if she was punished or rewarded. Some times it pays to see such people rewarded. They set higher goals and leave us in peace. May be she asked for a transfer since she was unable to face the possibility of having the gatemen back in the college. Anyway it did not matter to me whether she went or stayed. Varalakshmi had granted me a boon and enabled me to help a fellow human being when he needed me most!

In the meantime I had learnt a lesson or two. Justice still prevailed. We only need to pursue it. We accept defeat far too soon. Not all can stand up to fight for what they feel is right. They have their own reasons for not doing so. But actors on the stage need prompters behind. They are equally important and those behind the screen also have a role to play. The episode strengthened my belief in goodness that still prevailed in the human mind.

20 comments:

visithra said...

oh wow - i love what u did - thats wonderful that you stood up for them

Hip Grandma said...

visithra:i could not have done it if others hadn't backed me.but it was a wonderful experience.

starry nights said...

That was so nice.fighting for justice and in the end it did prevail.I think the most important factor was that you were willing to take the risk may be transfered or lose your job to help some one else.Kudos to you.

The Inquisitive Akka said...

Dear Hip hop patti! I came to your blog via archana bahuguna's blog! I really like the way you write! My mother's still very nervous around the computer, I'll have to show her your blog!She's a biology teacher just like you.

Ardra said...

stumbled into u'r space from elsewhere...loved going thru the archives...shall keep coming back...

Usha said...

At the end of the day it is these moments that stand out as high points of our life. But it is so sad that most prefer to choose the line of least resistance. We need to stand up for what is right not only for our sake but also for the sake of those who are weaker and need to be shown the way and assurance that justice prevails.
Kudos to you and your colleagues!

passerby55 said...

when i worked i found some who have certain powers want to exhibit it ...

They want to show their authority( in most cases i have seen it is often on wrong)
they think no one will retaliate, they have the power to do anything.

SUch, who don't use their powers for the right cause should be made to realise that JUStice does prevail ...

Preeta, well done.

Anonymous said...

Lalitha:yes,in the end justice prevailed.but we're like a family in our college and could not have thought of ignoring bahadur's woes.

inquisitive akka:when you call me patti i can't call you akka.suggest a name for urself!thanx for your kind words.

ardra:gald u like my posts.thanks for stoppingby.

usha:i agree with you.we who can take risks must do so at least for those who cannot.

Hip Grandma said...

Friends the previous comment was also from me.my g'daughter demanded attention and I published it without choosing an identity.
Passerby55:there are many who misuse their power.such people usually cannot stand up to a person who fights for a just cause.our principal was one such person.we who stood up were a mere handful but there were many who looked up to us for support.we also had to be extra careful.a slip on our part would have crushed us for ever.

Alapana said...

Its always that we humans behave like sheep,walking on the same path which was created by someone who walked there before,but moments or situations like this where we carve our own path standout,make us diff from others yet so similar and closer among the like minded people.Kudos to what all of you have done./
We had a similar principal until recently but i never give up,i keep off from her but wont let her bend rules,was ready with my resignation and fought for my dignity,a teacher is an example for students,and if we dont do so then no point being a teacher or a good humanbeing.

Hip Grandma said...

alpana:welcome to my blog.I see myself in you.let us all get together and fight for those who need us most.

Archana Bahuguna said...

I completely agree with you. We do need to have the courage to stand up and fight against injustice. Otherwise we get what we deserve. I think the biggest problem we face is that fear rules us most of the times. Kudos to you.

The Inquisitive Akka said...

Oh no you are not old enough AT ALL to be my patti!!:) I just translated the g-mom into tamil:)You can call me anything you want:) what shd i call you?

Srijith Unni said...

Hi Hip Grandma,

When one decides to fight and brave all odds.. to strive for fairness for the people around them, they become a leader and a giver. YOu are one.!

Varalakshmi devi granted you a boon, you say.. So humble of you.. :)

Haven`t been visiting a number of blogs in a long while. Just catching up.. Shall put aside some time to read your other posts.

With Best Regards,
Srijith Unni.

Has to be me said...

Thats such a good gesture. U fought really well for the justice which they deserved. Good going!
God Bless.

Hip Grandma said...

archana:i am reminded of lines I read long back in Nehru's 'Coming of Gandhi' I quote "fear builds phantoms which are more fearful than fear itself". somehow these lines have stayed in my mind.This was a chapter in the prose text prescribed in my High School for my Board exams.I keeo reminding myself every now and then!

Srijith:when i posted this one I was afraid of being labelled a 'boast and a show off'.I am glad that all of you understood the story in the sense it was meant to be.I would never have forgiven myself if I hadn't done my bit.the gatemen could not have approached the chancellor's office on their own.and nothing less than that would have hastened the process.I repeat what I said before.people who worked behind the screen also desrve to be praised.

has to be me:thanx for your kind words.

inquisitive akka:i was just joking!i hope you didn't mind my having a little fun at your expense.you can call me patti or preeta or give me a new name.hereafter I'll call you IQA

The Inquisitive Akka said...

I shall call you preeta then :)

Hip Grandma said...

IQA:you are welcome

Mahadevan said...

Many people forget that the power of authority is ephemeral and that the power of reasoning is eternal.

'We accept defeat far too soon.' That is a classic statement. Perseverance pays. It paid you.

Hip Grandma said...

Mahadevan:Misuse of power may bring temporary satisfaction.It is bound to hit back sooner or later.This was a lifetime experience and an eye opener that even the poorest among us can walk with their head held up in the air.Self respect is the key to it.