Rajan had taken over recently as Secretary at the central government and had moved from Gujarat to Delhi. He had been busy going through the files on a ticklish issue that had come up in Parliament. The minister was to make a statement in the parliament. The issue had occupied centre stage with media, both visual and print, seized of the matter and discussing it animatedly. As he was perusing the files he found a note where the issue had been brilliantly analyzed threadbare bringing out the several aspects in proper perspective. That note was from a lower level officer.Rajan very much impressed. He asked about the officer to the Additional Secretary and the Joint Secretaries who were with him. They gave a good account of him. Curious Rajan had him called to his room not only to see him but also get a point clarified.
A lean man but with bright eyes stood before him. Clad in white in half shirt and pant he appeared to be in his late forties like him.
“I have just now read the note you had prepared. It is excellent and shows your intimate grasp of the subject. I need a clarification on one point” Rajan said and asked him his doubt.
The Under Secretary in his squeaky voice instantly clarified the issue and showed some very relevant correspondence on the subject. Rajan noticed a large circular pinkish mole on his forearm. Highly satisfied with the explanation, Rajan asked him “What is your name and how long are you in this ministry?”
“I am Ganesh and working in this ministry since five years. Earlier I was in Commerce ministry” he said.
Rajan thereafter continued the discussions with his senior officers and got busy with other matters.
It was in the evening as he was returning home in his car, the face of the Under Secretary, the large mole and his squeaky voice came to his mind. He was taken back to his younger days at Kumbakonam.Rajan’s father was a brief less lawyer and struggling to make both ends to meet. Life was hard.Rajan was studying in Town high school and his best friend was one Ganesu.The latter was very bright and always topped the class. These two were inseparable and very fond of each other.Rajan had frequently visited Ganesu’s home and was treated to delicious snacks. He remembered Ganesu’s mom and on one Deepavali occasion she had gifted him with a new shirt.Ganesu had chubby face and long hair. But this Ganesh whom Rajan saw in the morning was baldish and thin. But the mole was unmistakable. He wondered how come he, a school topper, is still ordinary position while he had cleared the IAS examination. Doubts assailed his mind as there was no sign of recognition in his face. True he had become very fat and totally bald. He had thick glasses too.
It so happened within a week Ganesh had gone to Secretary’s room with some files he had asked for. Without revealing who he was, Rajan asked him where he belonged to, where he studied and about his family. From his reply it turned out to be the same school mate of Rajan. It transpired that Ganesh had one son who had settled down in US at New York. Meanwhile some visitors entered the room and the Secretary got busy.
It was after a couple of months the Additional Secretary called Ganesh to his room and asked him whether he was interested in a World Bank posting at New York. Surprised at the turn of luck,Ganesh was dumbfounded. Seeing him startled, the Additional Secretary said “I myself was not aware of this till I saw Secretary’s nomination of your name. I am sure he is very much impressed with you. Do you know him by any chance?”
“Though his face is familiar, I am unable to place him. Frankly I do not remember whether we had met in my younger days” he said.
Six months later, Rajan was talking to the Additional secretary “Do you remember the Under Secretary with a mole in his hand who has gone to World Bank? Though he doesn’t remember me, he was my class mate in school days. His mom was kind to me. We were not well off then. I have taken food in his house countless number of times. She had given me a shirt too for Deepavali.”
The Additional Secretary was touched to see the Secretary taking out his specs to wipe the moisture from his eyes.