The talk of the town - CORRUPTION. Surf the TV channels, seven out of ten channels are telecasting some kind of round table discussion on this issue. Open the newspaper early morning, there it is, right in front of your eyes, in black and white. Back home after a day's hard work, I log in to a social networking site, its painted all over with different opinions on the same subject.
My encounter with this moral impurity is what I am going to pen down. It was early 2010 when I decided that my document's folder should contain an additional document, my passport. I applied for it on 31st April, 2010. As per the rules and norms, a cop paid me a visit one fine morning to verify my identity. Baba was not at home at that time. It was just mom and me. The cop seemed a friendly guy. Mom offered him a cup of tea, along with a plateful of sweets and savouries. After his interrogation and gastronomic satisfaction, he got up to leave, assuring me that my passport will be in my hands in a couple of months. And me being the fool that I was, believed him.
It was in a family get together some months later, that one of my uncles asked me if I have a passport ready as I was about to step into the corporate world (the myth still prevails, IT industry means relocating to the US of A). That suddenly reminded me the police uncle's fat chubby smiling face telling me that I will have the passport in my hands in two months. I made a quick calculation. It was almost 4 months since I applied, and no passport yet! Uncle asked me in a grave it's-a-matter-of-fact voice, "Haathe koto guunje diyechili" (what amount did you place on his hands)? I beamed and told him, he was a good man, he didn't ask for any! As soon as I finished my sentenced, every pair of eyes were on me and everyone in the room started talking at the same time.
"Haaa Bhogoban, kichui dili na?" (Oh god, you did not offer him anything?)
"Ebaba... eyi jonneyi eto deri hocche" (Oh, that's the reason it's taking so much time)
"Poltu'r ta korar shomoye to ami chaa er shatheyi paansho taka guje dilam mishti khawar jonne" (while applying for Poltu's passport, I have him 500 rupees along with his cup of tea and asked him to buy himself some sweets)
It has become a common practice to bribe the cop when he comes for verification. So much common that it has imbibed into the application procedure and has become an integral part of it. Or maybe, the most important part! As I was sitting in the room, with people around me discussing about the delay in my passport delivery, it appeared as if I had missed a major step. And I was supposed to feel guilty about not handing over money to the cop.
Yes, no greens were exchanged in the entire course of my passport application, except for the application fee. And I am suffering. Had I pushed into his palm a couple of 100 rupee notes, probably I would have seen by today what a passport looks like. Today, after 1 year 4 months, my passport is still under process.