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     Volume 5 Issue 105 | July 28, 2006 |

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The Final Delivery


At the dining table (yes, even when a person is worried, he has to eat, which again can become doubly worrying considering that the price of edibles has reached the top of Jack's beanstalk) a discussion ensued on which institution of the government was running well, err… only running was in fact the point of discussion; running 'well' is beyond our present comprehension unless one is thinking about a deep well, which again has dried in many parts of the country despite the monsoon just past. Oh! What beholds the future on top of a taken-care-of caretaker government?

The conversation began when one of our companions that evening mentioned that house owners were disconnecting their T&T landline in favour of a cell phone because of the rampant corruption of the local lineman (not to be confused with Romeos), who could keep alive the paid connection for only four months out of twelve. Once free from the clutches of the government servant (read malik), the happy house owner has no need to give any boka in the confines of his house lest the honourable lineman should perchance hear; in fact, he can now give all the seesh he wants for the lineman no longer has the line to blackmail him for boksish.

There was then an awkward silence, long enough to gulp down two lokmas of rice and curry, because no one at the table knew of any other sarkari agency that was doing well. I looked around and proffered (expending quite an amount of courage) that the best running government department was the post office. While I will out of politeness not reveal who were the two who almost choked on their expensive food or who almost spewed their ten taka kaacha morich, I tell you their instantaneous disdainful smirks were more than hurtful. It was then my turn to maintain silence.

One of the ladies elaborated on how a Dhaka student applying for an overseas placement had sent out many applications, but he did not receive even one reply until… ta-daaaa! One fine morning his postman appeared with one single khaam with a foreign postmark. How jubilant was our student! As is customary, the postman bhaiya waited for some boksish and the student, imagining his one foot in the aeroplane, took out a crispy fifty taka note. Good for him for the next day the postman bhaiya, efficient as they are when tipped, bought a sack full of replies from all the other universities he had sent out forms to.

This narration prompted another gentleman to recount the experience of another student with his postman. This lad was waiting for his TOEFL results and (surprise! surprise!) a letter was indeed delivered to him that our student knew contained the score that could land him in Bushland. So eager was he that right in front of the postman he hurriedly ripped open the envelope and took out the sheet to realise to his horror that it was someone else's results. Guilt as well as compassion for another student compelled the boy to request the postman to take back the letter and deliver it to the right person. Nothing doing, said the postman. The government servant had made his delivery. Considering the importance of the letter the boy felt responsible towards another fellow student, unknown though he was, who must be as eager as he was for the score. Remorse had the better of the boy and so he took it upon himself to reach the letter to the right address and to deliver it in person. Who said being a postman was difficult? Being a good person is also not that difficult.

Bad institutional service has been the bane for the postal department, giving way to scores of courier services. Yet once again private enterprise excelled over public service.

Despite the inefficiencies that are perhaps more common than competence, let us convey our appreciation to the hundreds of postmen in our villages and small towns, who make deliveries to undefined addresses often being provided with only a first name, a village and a district, and that's it. They have brought joy to Salleh Miah, Miahbari, Sutiakati, Pirojpur. They have delivered money-grams to Maleka Begum at Kandirpar Bus Stand, Comilla. Many a postman have been angels to our rural folk.

I must also pay tributes to my postman, whose sincerity over the years was the basis of my statement in favour of the service. I took his service for guaranteed. Occasionally we exchanged greetings when we crossed each other on the road in the neighbourhood, he being almost always the first to wish me peace, although he was older than I. I never have had the inclination to tip him, so efficient was he. And today as I seek to do so, I no longer see him tread the long path to my door. I fear, unknown to either of us, he may have made his last delivery.

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