Some Small Complaints!
friends and I took recourse to law for an exceedingly trivial
matter. A club that we were members of had decided to throw
us out for entering and using its premises wearing non-western
attire. We thought this was insulting and ridiculous and sued
the club in a court of law. The honourable judge, after listening
to our petition, issued a stay order on the decision of the
management of the club. We came back triumphant and re-entered
the club gleefully. It was such an inconsequential event in
my life that it does not even merit mentioning in these columns.
And the reason for mentioning it is also quite different. In
those days, a strike of the Lawyers was on. Therefore, we had
to plead our case ourselves. Our legal advisor, a reputed solicitor
had briefed us about how we should go about the job and also,
very kindly, asked his junior to accompany us to the court.
After the Judge gave his verdict, the gentleman deputed by our
solicitor asked for some money to be paid to the clerk of the
court as bakshish. We found out that this was to be paid in
gratitude for our case to be raised to the Judge earlier than
the time it should have normally taken. I thought it was fair
to pay these small bribes to a person who is ill remunerated.
He must be having a family to support, some kids to educate,
a house-rent to pay and what have you. We all knew how expensive
it was to live in this city.
seemed to disagree. He said, " no sir; he does not need
the bribe for his subsistence. He needs it for indulging in
luxury. If you opened his drawer now you would find a pack of
the most expensive cigarettes in it." Until then it did
not occur to me that even those taking recourse to minor corruptions
did so not only to meet their ends but also in luxuries that
only the well off could afford. This got me thinking. It is
a fact then that everybody does not indulge in corruption out
of necessity. Some do it for the purpose of indulging in luxury
relative of mine, a widow, was speaking about her encounter
with small time corruption the other day. Recently, she was
out of the country visiting her relatives for about four months.
During her absence the apartment she lives in was locked. On
return she found that the power distribution company had regularly
sent her bills at an average of about a thousand Takas a month.
Now, this was preposterous no one had been in the apartment.
On inquiry, the lady was told that this was caused by a fault
in the metre and that she had to replace it with a new one.
A new metre was bought. The metre was of the same brand as the
old one. But when asked to install it she was told that this
metre wouldn't do, she had to get another one of a particular
brand. Why so (?), my relative asked. "Because that is
the only metre which is acceptable to us", they said. So
the chain of corruption was very long indeed. Amongst others
it also included the manufacturers as well. The same lady got
a new connection of natural gas in her apartment. This was done
at the advice of the authorities. After the connection was given,
when asked to seal the old line they asked for two thousand
Takas or else, they said, her gas connection would be cut off.
I have only
mentioned a couple of incidents that came to my mind readily.
But tell me readers, those of you who own a vehicle, have you
ever been able to get your fitness certificate from the authority
without dishing out a bribe, however fit your vehicle is? But
how many times in a day's journey through the streets of Dhaka
have you encountered vehicles that should have ended their journey
in the junkyard ages ago? But I guess in a society like ours
rife with corruption across the board, you do not have an alternative.
So consider it a "small complaint" that you could
learn to live with.