Before we became independent, the British ruled us. There are many opinions as to the way they managed the affairs of the nation. But it is generally agreed that they did a fairly good job of administering this large country. This is especially true of the young officers who managed the districts and talukas. These men were fresh out of their home country, after the initial training, were posted to isolated places, thrown into a culture and people far removed from their own and yet they managed to serve the population as best as they could. They also wielded enormous powers over the subject population under their care. The following story is that of one such young officer.
He liked the country and the people and enjoyed the reputation for being fair and honest. He had to work hard to know his people and to do this he had to tour extensively. Some towns he could visit in his car but often he had to go on horseback. He would start early in the morning after his breakfast and return in the evening. Often he stayed on the outskirts of a big village in a specially designed tent.
There was one blemish which often ruined his otherwise healthy, fun and adventure filled life. He suffered from constipation. Often, days together his bowels bottled up. Help from the civil surgeon who was a fellow white made matters worse. Consultation with local varieties of doctors of different disciplines too did not help. Each morning the young sahib would wake up and wonder what is in store for him that day? If he had a bowel movement, his day was made, if not he would remain grumpy till the next day and wait.
One such morning after having failed to get his bowels move, he gave up the attempt as it was getting late for his rounds, had a hurried breakfast, and left with his driver, attendant and the office clerk who carried the relevant records pertaining to the villages the sahib would visit. The attendant carried Sahib’s Lunch and other requirements. The journey began. They must have gone a few miles when the Sahib started getting strong bowel contractions. This made him feel good. He asked his driver to stop the car at the nearest water body and urged him to hurry.
Soon they reached a bridge with a stream flowing underneath. Sahib got down and having collected his all purpose mug, hurried down to the bank of the stream. He undid his trousers and sat down for the much awaited evacuation. Alas! The strong and urgent contractions disappeared as suddenly as they had appeared. This was no uncommon experience for the Sahib. He knew that if he waited long enough he would get the contractions again and his bowels would move. So he sat patiently with his trousers down. But he kept his solar toupee on to guard against the sun.
He must have waited for ten minutes when he felt a soft thud on the toupee and a splash of gluey muck which splattered down. He looked up in time to see a native hurriedly scampering down from his perch on the side wall of the bridge. Unmindful of the state he was in, the Sahib shouted,’ catch the bugger, don’t let him go, I come up and take care of him’
The witnesses to this awful spectacle, the attendant and the clerk who were sitting by the side of the car ran and were able to stop the shivering native who by now had become aware of the enormity of his offence. He begged for mercy from the Sahib’s assistants who by virtue of their proximity to the Sahib were in themselves were frightful figures.
By now, the Sahib, came panting up the slope without his toupee and shirt which he had thrown into the stream and washed off the gluey muck off as best as he could. He saw the poor villager being beaten by his attendants. He asked them to stop and went to the shaking and shivering and thoroughly frightened villager who stood with folded hands, fear and despair writ large on his face. No sooner the sahib came near him, looking at the half naked white apparition the villager was overcome with intense fear making him fall on the ground begging forgiveness. Sahib asked him to get up and said, ‘hell with your apology, just tell me how you managed to do the job so quickly’.
Rest of the story is irrelevant.