“You forgot to attest the duplicate copy of your DNA sample”, said Mr Wable crossly, looking at the small jar on his table. It was some form of cloudy liquid. Probably sputum.

“How many times do I have to tell you the same thing?” He was middle-aged and decaying rapidly, like his files.

“No, no, sir, not at all sir”, said Johor. “Here it is.” He took out another small jar. His movements were quick and graceful. Years of illegal theatre had made him very fluid. The jar was identical to the one on the table, and the contents looked very similar. It was only natural, since he was the source for both.

“Please attest it as a genuine copy by signing on the label”, said Mr Wable. Johor did so. Mr Wable picked up both jars and examined them one by one. He too noted the resemblance. DNA testing was mostly done by government officers through visual observation, due to pressure of time. He handed back both jars, after carefully scanning the labels.

“You keep the original for reference”, he said. Johor put the jar back in his bag. “Everything here is computerised now”, said Mr Wable, proudly. “Did you bring all the printouts?”

Johor handed over a large white envelope which contained all his documents. Each document was individually labeled.

“Does this contain six passport size photos, along with Form 16B, proof of birth, proof of residence, proof of income, proof of marital status, proof of father’s employment, proof of loyalty to the nation, and character certification by a gazetted officer of the rank of under- secretary and above, not including officers on special duty? Is this an exact and accurate printed copy of your online application, which is required for verification purposes?”

Johor was familiar with this routine. It was like Snakes & Ladders. Every time his application was rejected, he had to start all over again. It was like dealing with the credit card company, but with less music. He confirmed that all guidelines had been followed.

Mr Wable peered closely at his form, although he ought to have been familiar with its contents by now. Johor had been coming every day for weeks. His persistence had won him many admirers, including Mr Wable. He quite liked the boy. He had a certain charm. He was small and non-threatening. His spectacles were old-fashioned. His grin was puckish. He rarely combed his hair. He was optimistic. Mr Wable did not know anyone else who was optimistic. Nevertheless, it was his duty as a government officer to crush this optimism. It was a nasty job, but someone had to do it.

Will Johor’s application be accepted? Or will he have to meet the monkey? Find out in the next episode of ‘No Son of Mine’.

Read Episode 1 and Episode 2