Mr Wable looked up from the form sternly. He had spotted an error.
“Under ‘Details of Internship with Father’, it stills says NA.”
“NA means Not Applicable, sir”, said Johor, helpfully.
Mr Wable eyed him suspiciously. Was he trying to be funny? Sometimes he suspected that he was. “What do you mean ‘Not Applicable’? It’s applicable to the whole nation. Since the Constitution was revised to make all jobs hereditary, everyone interns with their father. Even VVIPs are not exempt. Are you one of those enemies of the Constitution?”
As a general practice, Mr Wable tried to avoid anti-national elements as much as possible. It was safer that way.
“No, no, sir, not at all,” said Johor. “Sir has misunderstood. I could never be disrespectful to Sir.”
Johor used different accents and styles of speaking with different people. He based his choices on what he thought would make them most comfortable. Right now, he was speaking Third Person Government Inferior. “Sir, the atmosphere in State Bank of India doesn’t suit me, sir.”
Mr Wable scoffed. “Atmosphere? What is all this atmosphere? Do you think the atmosphere here suits me? Half my colleagues have different types of stomach disorders, due to sedentary lifestyle. See Bijapurkar, sitting less than ten feet away. He doesn’t bathe throughout the winter, due to fear of electrocution. He does not trust any water-heating device. Our lunch is sponsored everyday by a different skill-development company, and most of them are vegetarian. The majority of my actions are determined by a talking monkey. Have you any idea how much I suffer here? Where is the question of suitability? Everyone has to do their duty. Such is the will of the PM, blessed be her name.”
“But, Sir, what about quality of work, sir? I am not at all suitable for bank officer’s position. My mathematical skills are very poor. When my math teacher heard that my father was in State Bank of India, he withdrew all his money immediately. Not even a fixed deposit, sir. He took out every rupee. Now that I have seen the fruit, he said, it’s better to avoid the tree. Sir, if someone like me joins SBI, sir, standards will fall, sir.”
“Have I ever let that bother me?”, demanded Mr Wable. “I am continuing to perform my duty in exactly the same way my father did before me. Where does the question of standards come in?”
At the age of 18, Johor was already experienced enough to know that there was no good answer to that one. He tried a different approach.
“Come on, Uncle, let me have one cup of tea with your boss. I'm sure I can convince him. I'm very charming. See, even you like me. Just five minutes.”
“Without Form 16B?”, said Mr Wable, appalled.
“I’ll tell him a few jokes. I’ll narrate anecdotes in a humorous way. I’ll make him happy. It’s what I do.”
“He hasn’t been happy since 1983”, said Mr Wable.
“Come on, Uncle, just five minutes.”
Mr Wable considered the question carefully.
“Fine, let’s go ask the monkey,” he said.
How did a monkey become a senior government officer? Only by reading No Son of Mine’s next chapter will you be able to find out.