Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Karthik was visibly excited. Here was a guy, not even 22, but already shoveled into the big bad world of Corporate wilderness. He didn't consider himself a grown-up, at least not yet. He found it rather funny that an organisation as huge as DataBro was willing to induct him into their team and give him some responsibility.
They had squeezed him dry during the training period, and he was left wondering if he'd studied that hard even for his board exams. But it was all worth it. He could find himself maturing into an independent individual. Translated : Externally, his eyes didn't light up at the sight of all those snacks in the refreshment room. His brain went haywire though.
He was pushed into a project straight out of training, that left many of his contemporaries seething with envy. He proclaimed he was just lucky. But he knew he'd worked hard enough for it. To take him one step closer to what he'd been waiting for, ever since he got placed in his final semester. His first 'real' pay packet. The one he had, in the true sense of the word, earned.
Karthik had already won the hearts of his team mates and project manager with his enthusiasm and quick wit. In fact, he'd impressed his superiors so much that they'd jokingly asked him if he'd like his salary given to him gift-wrapped instead of crediting it to his account. Karthik had a dead serious look on his face when he nodded and said "Yes sir. If not gift-wrapped, at least given to me in cash." Everyone was taken aback. He was just kidding, or was he? Karthik thanked his bosses and left the room.
This was the weirdest request they'd received, and they didn't have the heart to shoot it down. The corporate world had shifted to electronic fund transfers for a reason, and this was a major step backwards. The primitive practice was going to be performed again. The head honchos could only hope silently that no one knew what went on.
Karthik was told not to breathe a word about this to anyone. "Cash pay packets require an old ritual to be performed. One that the world doesn't know about. This is the last time we'd carry this out. So not a word, boy!", they'd warned. Karthik's curiosity was piqued. He had to know what was going on. And he decided that he'd find out even if it cost him his job.
And so, on pay-day, he snuck out of his cubicle and made his way to the loo. On his way out, he took a detour and inched his way to the accounts section where he'd seen all his bosses enter. He was slowly moving towards the door, with his back firmly against the wall when his pal, Prasad walked out of the toilet and eyed him with doubt. "Oy! Whatchoo upto?", he called out. Karthik was glad he'd paid a visit to the loo a while back. The shock hadn't done much harm! He collected his wits, held out his hand like a pistol, and whispered "Bang Bang".
Prasad chuckled and said, "Grow up, kiddo!" as he went back to his cubicle. Karthik heaved a sigh of relief, and reached the Accounts room. He stealthily peeped through the glass panes on the door. His bosses were huddled together, apparently chanting something. Then, he got the shock of his life. They took the bundle of cash, and did all sorts of obscene things with it. Finally, one person took it in his hand, inhaled deeply and spat all over the wad of notes. He then passed it to another guy, who clinically removed all the notes with saliva on them, and passed on the clean notes to the next person, who put them in an envelope and sealed it.
Karthik was filled with disgust. "What a sickening thing to do!", he wondered, "And in this age and times!". He was all shaken up as he reached his cubicle. Prasad noticed the worried look on his face and went up to him. "What happened, machan?", he enquired. Karthik told him all that he'd seen, down to the most repulsive detail. Prasad smiled, "Ada cha, avalo thaana.. My dad's told me about it once. It was a routine ages back. They perform every obscene act possible on your money, before plucking out the clean ones and giving it to you. This was the primary reason why we've shifted to electronic fund transfer these day. To bury this ugly past."
Karthik looked at him wide-eyed. "Bb.. but.. but why? Are.. Are you sure this.. this is what they did everywhere?", he spluttered.
"Yup!", Prasad smiled, "Why else do you think they call your undeducted pay as Gross Salary?"