Published The Dawn Magazine
Sunday, December 7, 1997
People's Power

ALTHOUGH YOUR file had been with him for three months, he hadn't yet done anything about it. You had desperately wanted to have the case decided as soon as possible, before your file was misplaced. Had it been anyone else, you'd have greased his palm. But this man appeared to be different from the rest. He never failed to mention, everytime you went to see him, that he was a dedicated, professional officer devoted to his job. You told him practically every civil servant in the country demanded payment under the table for even the meanest work, like giving you a copy of your birth certificate. Such people will burn in hell, he said, with a mandman's glint in his eye.

Someone in the department told you that the man was as corrupt as the rest, only you had to bribe him tactfully. So you had hit upon a plan. The next time you visited him, you gave him an envelope filled with notes. Before he could say anything, you told him that the money wasn't meant for him. It was for his juniors, the ones who never let a file move unless they were paid for it. You told him that you could tell everyone you knew that he was the most honest man in the country, a man who should get a prize for dedication to his job. He had glowed with satisfaction. Within minutes, he had decided the case in your favour.

By Shakir Lakhani