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A Jolt Back to Reality

Hi,welcome to my Hubpages profile. I am Arun Kanti Chatterjee and live in Kolkata. My mission is to share experiences etched on my memory.


Never before I had such a bizarre experience in an office. We had just completed our day's work and planned to leave when a sudden thud alerted us, and as we rushed to the spot we found the senior most member of the staff lying on the floor and all the staff members had already joined hands at a hectic pace to extend succour to the injured person.

The man was fondly called Tony da, a very popular person. An honest man to the core he could not bear with any impropriety. He would attend office in time and stick to his daily routine for which he needed no prodding. Although he was very close to other staff members he would often be entangled in unending altercations over any contentious issues particularly involving politics. He was not a member of any political outfit. As a person of deep beliefs and distinct opinions, he certainly felt that he was entitled to his own views and ideas - that is something that seems to be sorely lacking today. Having distinct impressions of his own he could not accept any decision of the government or the establishment which he considered wrong and improper. He was like a political analyst inclined to air his opinion freely without any bias for or against any party.

A good many staff members were, however, in favour of most of the government decisions then and since Tony da was very straight forward and vociferous in his argument he would not take their stand lightly and that would result in extreme uproar for some time. We, as officers, would always seek to avert the erupting conflicts requesting all to calm down and avoid controversial discussions by all means. But as egos prevailed arguments and counterarguments would continue unabated and Tony da, otherwise very mature and the senior most staff member, could not be placated easily. He would steadfastly continue to put across his points almost single-handedly. Following our intervention as the commotion would die down after some time the senior leaders of his adversaries would at times even request him not to be tensed and worked up so easily as the few tricky junior staff members found it very cheap means to provoke him into a noisy quarrel which, however, would take place during recess or after office hours, when the staff would seek some relaxation by gossip or group chat which was so stimulating.

Tony da was a gem of a person with many traits. One outstanding virtue of the man was his mellifluous voice which ran in his family. Everyone would sit around him while popular Bengali songs would be belted out intermittently while discussing non stop different aspects of our lives.

After the furor would be over he would be surely approached by the opponents to forget the acrimonious exchanges of words and take rest. Tony da in turn would relent and greet them with his affable smile and begin to render gems of songs of the legendary singers . He would at times delve into the nuances of the music presented by the maestros. We could come to understand a lot about music and the contribution of such singers in Bengali music. He would often rue how one such renowned and exceptionally talented singer passed last days of his life in extreme poverty without receiving due recognition or attention from the government.

Our office was accommodated on the ground floor of a big building and a portion was below a mezzanine floor with a low ceiling. Tony da would sit there amidst a few of the staff members while few of us worked upstairs.

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Reverting to the incongruous scene as mentioned in the beginning of this story one such day after the office hours there were usual fiery verbal exchanges in support of and against the government. Tony da was so much excited at the slightest provocation of some staff members that after his initial impassioned speeches to rebut vigorously the points raised by his opponents he could not control himself that day and tried to settle such issues right away. He was soon found to stand up on a table via a stool quickly placed by a wily rival to address more audiences on the vast premises. No sooner had he occupied his standing position amidst chuckling members of the opposite camp than he hit the ceiling dangerously and fell on the floor. Everyone came to his rescue immediately forgetting the tumultuous debate. The ugly incident etched out a bad patch in the history of the office and the repentant staff members were jolted back to reality. They vowed not to provoke him any more and surprisingly no such squabble ever took place again. Debatable issues were not discussed unnecessarily on the office premises since that dreadful day and Tony da devoted his leisure time only to sing our favourite golden songs of yesteryears. He has long passed away but while listening to his choicest songs we are reminded of our close association with the unforgettable ex colleague and the grim lesson learnt.

© 2022 ARUN KANTI CHATTERJEE

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