I don’t usually deal with much document work. But today I had to collect my passport from the post-office. Postman uncle had come home twice and on both occasions left notes. No-one is home from 9-4, thus the non-availability. But, it was high time I went and collected my govt. authorized document that would enable me to fly overseas.
So, I left home at 9 and then began my hunt of the post-office. Weird how we college-goers ignore places of general importance. Anyway, I asked shopkeepers and random people on the road and everyone seemed pretty amused at the fact that a localite was lost :P Nevertheless, found it in one corner of the CIDCO office and walked in.
I spoke to the post-master, he called the man responsible for my area and then after some random formalities there it was the document for which I had waited for about a year, my belonging, my very own, passport! But something stood in middle of me and it,
My parents had warned me about this. And they had actually said that if there are any signals from the man; give up some-money; “because we don’t wanna lose out on important letters.”
“But why bribe? We are doing it all legally and have made all the payments!”
“They shouldn’t ask you because you are a student, but, you never know”
“What if I refuse to pay? He will still have to give my passport.”
“Don’t be stupid. Do as I say”
“But I don’t want to give money; that is his duty!”
“I know and I agree with what you are trying to say beta, but its our documents or other notifications that are on stake. Apart, it is hardly some money.”
“But is it about the amount?”
“Do you always have to argue?”
“See girl, this has happened to us before. Because we refused to give them diwali [reward money on a hindu festival] at our old house, they didn’t deliver something and because of that, some delay led to us paying a very heavy amount as fine. So, listen to me, give him this” said daddy slipping a note in my hands.
I stayed mum then. All those arguments came rushing back to me now. And as I stood across that table, I was reminded of my dad’s words. Postman's guilty eyes were penetrating me and my conscious just didn’t want to encourage something I have spoken so strongly against at various occasions.
There was a huge line behind me, of people wanting to talk to the post-master. Commotion was building up; everyone was looking at me and the postman. All I could think about was the gateway peace rally and how we had talked about being good citizens. It was cold and my palms were sweating.
I lost. I chose to be a good daughter.
Papa, are you happy now?