After retirement, he received a bill from the Army Officers’ Mess, for food and drink consumed after his retirement date. A furious Daljit dictated a letter to my mom to type out. In it, he lambasted them for being so unprofessional and callous as to seek dues from a man who was forced to retire on ECG—that too, after he had left the place! The administrators guys at the mess, stunned at such an outburst, beat a hasty retreat and never pressed the point again. (Daljit later admitted to my mom that he had indeed partaken of all those meals and drinks! My mom felt rather embarrassed that she had been asked to type out that letter—she was glad she was not asked to sign it!
Daljit’s family lived in a sprawling three-storey house. He and his wife and kids occupied a floor, and his two siblings (and their respective families) occupied a floor each. The basement housed the office where Daljit and my mom sat. The entire family constantly ran the air conditioner in the Delhi heat, and the heater in the Delhi winter. Interestingly, the electricity bill always used to be a paltry amount, because they bribed the guy from the utilities company to report a low consumption.
Daljit also owned at least one other (commercial) property, on which he never paid taxes; he bribed someone every year. One day, an investigating officer from the property tax department called Daljit and fixed up an appointment. A few minutes before the appointed hour, Daljit disappeared. The officer waited and waited. Daljit then called the office from somewhere (no mobile phones and no caller ID back then), saying he was stuck elsewhere and would not be able to get back for at least 3-4 hours. The officer lamented to my mother that this seemed to happen all the time. Of course, he left after a few minutes.
Daljit had been calling from a neighbour’s place and, once his wife had confirmed that the coast was clear, he returned to the office!
When the story repeated itself a few weeks later, my mother felt sorry for the officer, but she was caught between her loyalty to her boss and her loyalty to the law. The officer asked her, “Is Daljit’s schedule like this every day?” She said no. He asked her, “Then how come this happens to me all the time?” My mom did not want to say, “My boss is dodging you; you should drop in unannounced“! Therefore, as he was leaving, she told him subtly, “I’m sorry you had to wait so long. As I told you, this is not typical; maybe you can just try dropping in sometime.”
So, dear reader: What is your take on this? Does the law come first, or your loyalty to your boss?