THE CHURNING OF THE OF OCEAN OF LIFE - MY OWN STORY - GAME OF LADDERS AND SNAKES BEGINS IN RIGHT EARNEST
The Eighth Part in this series was written by me in the month of July. That ended with the entry of my Goddess, Vani into my life. After a long gap, on the 39th Marriage Day I again wanted to restart the story.
Even before our traditional marriage, my wife was again absorbed as a Steno in DEO Office, Machilipatnam. It too was purely temporary. I once visited the office at 5 PM hoping my wife would be out of office. 6 PM, 7 PM, 8 PM, 9 PM and 9.30 PM, no trace. I lost patience. I approached the Superintendent and asked him why a lady employee was being held up after office hours and whether the office was paying any Over Time allowance. He claimed ignorance. I told him I wanted to meet her. He took me to the DEO Chamber. He did not have the courtesy to return my wishes too. I asked him to permit me to see my wife. He refused. I took the attender's help and went inside a room where the lighting was dim and it was sweating. I asked my wife to accompany me with a white paper and pen. I asked her to sit in front of the DEO and submit her resignation letter. "I will not accept", he roared. "Throw it in dust bin", I roared back. Employees started peeping into the room. He said he would call police. I told him to do so and said I would see him behind bars for detaining a lady employee against her wishes beyond 5 PM. He was taken aback. He took the resignation letter. I told him, "This job is like a nose that falls down when you sneeze. The payment you give is paltry and we are cleverer than you think. And, mark my words, I will see she joins a permanent job before you stop the heavy breathing" All this, I said in the loudest tone possible. His BP increased and he started stuttering.
First time, my wife (we were already married in the Registrar Office), saw my other angle. She was all appreciation on one side and she was shaking with fear. I cooled her down saying that would be how it would work. There was no other way. We went to Vijayawada the same day. She got her balance payment by cheque. Her resignation was neither accepted nor rejected, as it was a temporary posting and there were no rules or regulations.
I had to mention this to show the wide variations in the temperaments of me and my wife. She is too cool to the point of turning submissive. I was too aggressive never compromising on what I believed, come what may. It came in future. That did not alter my nature. I fought and had been fighting still. She was cool and still continues to be cool. That made our combination successful in the face of utmost adversity.
"The world needs anger and temperament. The world continues to be evil as it is not angry enough" I believed this saying by Bede Jarret.
"I have reached a point in life where I feel it is no longer necessary to try & impress anyone. If they like me the way I am, good & if they don’t, it’s their loss." she believes this unknown saying.
Thank you! Every person,who has ever told me, I can’t. You are just another reason I will. And I have done it. Of course her help was immense.
In 1973, when I joined LIC of India, there was a total ban on promotions for a decade. So, clerks were remaining clerks. This gave place to frustration to at least five to ten guys who joined with me and were confident of their abilities. The first to leave was one Mr.Jawahar, who joined IOB. Then my close friend, Mr.Emani Krishna Murthy, grandson of Sri Emani Sankara Sastry, the world famous Veena player, left for Andhra bank. Both went as POs. This brought pressure on me from my peers. Even seniors started pestering me to leave as there was no future in LIC. So, the first advertisement I saw was Corporation Bank Limited who called for Officer Trainees with Rs.700/- stipend 1st year and Rs.800/- during the second. There were no other benefits like PF. I was drawing a gross salary of Rs.800+/- by then in LIC. But, the absence of growth in LIC made me take a good decision then but one that proved fatal later. I was called for test on 11th of September, nine days after marriage and for interview on November 15th, in Hyderabad.
There were two panellists. One was a respected gentleman from AP, Sri. C. Narasimham (I learned about him in later days, a Chowdary by caste ( I had to mention caste, as you will know later why I did so) and the other was one Mr. KPJ Prabhu, a Konkani speaking from South Canara District. They asked many questions for half hour and Sri C. Narasimham nodded his head. He asked me, "Can you extract work from your sub-ordinates?". I said I was as capable as any officer working in the Bank. Arrogant, but I was right. The other gentleman immediately intervened, as if he were waiting for a chance, "He is looking just like a boy. How can he extract work from seniors?" At that Mr. Narasimham got angry and said, "This is not Military Service. This young man seems far better than many of your executives" and he told me "You are on the panel. You will hear from us." This might have angered the other Director and I was not knowing what noting he made. I climbed the ladder again and within a split second a snake bit me. My growth and fall started the same day. I proved the Director , who selected me right and the other Director who objected my selection, proved right after eighteen years. It took a very little time for my mercurial brain to know what transpired between the two. A split verdict with no appeal.
I was selected and received orders on 3rd December, asking to report in Mangalore on the 19th for training. Incidentally my interview in LIC was on 15th November and I received orders on 3rd December, 1973 only. I received dismissal orders dated the same day 18 years later. Strange, but true!
The struggle started. My wife wanted to explore the world as she never saw any place except Ponnuru, Tenali, Vijayawada and Hyderabad. My family was against, as they would lose my patronage. But they unanimously extracted a promise from me to send Rs.200/- PM, till my younger sister too got married. My younger brother was earning Rs.450/- by then as Junior Engineer in Telecom. I made a promise. I did not fail. Even if I failed for lack of funds, they did not allow me to fail even one month. So, I borrowed further to keep them happier than me, my wife and one child the first year. Even my respected uncle advised me not to join that bank, as it was considered a retail store owned by a Marwari, where the family only ruled the roost. He was in RBI as a Senior Officer. Pendulum swung in favour of my wife's wish and my own ambition and advice of Seniors in LIC to quit the rotten LIC of India.
Quirk of fate was that, exactly within a year of my leaving, ban on promotions was lifted in LIC and all my colleagues who passed departmental examinations retired as Senior Divisional Managers. But, a Bank job was a Bank job,. the most challenging job then. That too in Branch banking, it was more so. In LIC there were no challenges. It was routine clerical work, come at ten and leave at five. That way, I derived job satisfaction even for a limited period.
There was a problem to get relieved from LIC of India, as the Union guys with whom I fought four years, made an issue that I kept work pending and committed many errors. This was after I met my wife and was roaming with her. These were the same guys who advised me not to work. Till last minute, one Tamilian Divisional Manager, Sri Srinivasan did not relieve me. I said it was OK. "I will take back my resignation and complete the work and then get another job." With pressure from the other officers, who liked me he relieved me on 15th December, 1977 at 5'0 clock, after one of my sympathisers, a very senior employee, promised to complete the work. And he completed as he promised. It was the first and last time I kept any work pending.
The game of ladders and snakes started in right earnest on the 19th of December, 1977 at Mangalore. Fifteen days of training went on smoothly. Malayalees were my best friends, then. Our own people used to envy me. A day before the training was about to complete, a personal interaction was conducted by the Principal of the college, Mr. Subbarao. Usually faculty and principals of training colleges were failures in Branch operations and it was the last resort of the failed and incompetent, those days. The first question he asked was "Are you related to Mr. Narasimham" I told "No". He asked, "Do you know him?" I said "No". "Then who recommended you? " My temperament took over my good sense and I replied "God!". He got furious , asked all irrelevant questions, said I was fit for nothing and declared that he would see how many days I would serve the Bank. My left leg was out of the Bank on the 15th day of joining.
We, all the recruits, had to fight three forces. That was the first time the Bank made direct recruitment to officer lever. So, we angered the existing officers that saw a threat in us for their future growth. We were derided by the clerical staff, as they lost out on promotions. The third and the most ominous force was the local South Canara Staff, officers, executives etc., who hated any outsider in the bank. I make this statement with full confidence, as we all suffered humiliation at their hands. Many left within the first year and few remained. few grew and few revolutionaries like me suffered huge blows. This was a fact, fact and fact of life then. Now, all changed after nationalisation.
I will close this part, with what our Chairman, whom one politician from AP, used to call all names in front of us, used to tell.
"Not only be honest, but appear to be honest." He knew only that sentence, like Rahul Gandhi. He was doing the latter and was expecting us to be the former. That explains the philosophy of the Bank, back then.