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More heart breaks

In January 1977 things started happening. I received news of my transfer but they did not mention the date or name of the relieving official. I applied for leave to attend the wedding of my niece at Calicut and was promised that before the leave expired I would be relieved. I left for Bangalore en route to Calicut. Raji accompanied me for the wedding and we really enjoyed the occasion knowing well that as soon as I returned from Calicut and reported at the branch I would be relieved and would join the family after the gap of nearly five years. Things started going bad from then on and my bitter experiences unfolded little by little. During my absence on leave, the Branch Manager had come under cloud and the Regional Office had relieved him of his charge and suspended him on a charge of fraud. An Officer from a nearby branch had taken temporary charge of the branch. On my return the Regional Office instructed me “over the phone” to take charge of the branch and relieve the Officer who had taken temporary charge. I was not only shocked but was very furious. I suggested to the Regional Office that the Officer who had taken charge in my absence be asked to continue and relieve me forthwith as I had suffered enough. The Officer was also very happy to continue as it was his first chance to officiate as Branch Manager. The Regional Office as was only to be expected would have none of it and they instead asked me to hold both the post of Branch Manager and my present post as Accountant until they find a suitable man to take over from me. Both these posts were ‘key holding’ ones which means I hold the overall key of the Branch as well as the keys of the strong room where money and other valuables were held to which only the Accountant and the Head Cashier had access. It was a big unexpected bombshell. Since I had no choice I had to take over and perform the twin duties as the B.M. and Accountant. People at home were shocked beyond words.

Further tragedies were unfolding. The only other officer who could have relieved me in an emergency, the Field Officer had applied for long leave to take his family from Mangalore to Bombay. Although I was not willing to relieve him and wanted to write to the Regional Office to post a reliever before my field officer could go leave, he did not even wait to receive the letter from Regional Office sanctioning his leave and left without even telling me ‘by your leave’. The only other official who could have shared my burden was the Head Cashier. Tragedy struck again in the form of a tragic road accident in which this gentleman was killed. A fresh junior level officer who had only limited powers was posted in his place. He obviously could not be expected to do any responsible work at the branch other than his assigned job. This effectively meant that I was holding the entire charge of the branch which was cruel in my present state of despair. At this point of time when I was struggling to run the branch without any support there came yet another shock. The Central Office auditors whose visits even in normal times upset the entire working of the branches descended on the branch for their month long inspection. It is normally a very long affair, inspecting every book of the branch, verifying the accuracy of the entries besides inspection of documents of all advances.

As the branch’s main business was the heavy advances to the agriculturists it would take more than the normal time to complete the task. I literally sank in my chair. As the advances were looked after by the permanent B.M. and the Field Officer both of whom were not available the job was made doubly difficult to manage. My weekly visits to Bangalore already upset by the absence of other officials in the branch were further curtailed by the presence of the auditors. By the time the auditors departed I was a total wreck.

News from home was giving me anxious moments. I received the news from home that Raji was not keeping well. The Regional Office was sitting tight on my transfer now for the past four months without sign of any relief coming to me. The Field Officer kept extending his leave for an indefinite period. Although an Officer who was the Field Officer at a neighbouring branch was identified to take over as Accountant in my place he was not relieved at his branch as the concerned B.M. would not relieve him unless a replacement for him was sent by the Regional Office. The Manager’s excuse was that it being the busy harvesting season the Bank had to make extra efforts to achieve maximum recovery of loans. The transferred officer had already shifted his family to Ranebennur and was commuting by train to work. Had he arrived at the branch at that time I could have handed over charge of the Branch to him and left for Bangalore for good.

There is an interesting story here. Bangalore Main branch was a heavy branch with thousands of transactions daily going through its books and it was necessary that the books had to be balanced at the end of each day. For this purpose a special section would be working. Normally it takes a few days to get all the books tallied and the Main Day Book balanced. At this instance the Main Day Book had not balanced for almost two weeks. A worried B.M. had set up special squad to get the work completed and in the squad there was one officer who was on orders of transfer. It was a coincidence (and my misfortune) that this officer had to relieve the officer who had to report to my branch as Accountant. Despite my entreaties to the Bangalore Branch Manager (a known friend of mine) to relieve this gentleman which would have set off a chain reaction resulting in my getting back to Bangalore to be at the bed side of my ailing wife, the B.M. expressed his inability to do so on the specious plea that the books had to be balanced first before he could relieve him. The matter rested there. Finally an Officer was posted to my branch in May to take over as B.M. but the gentleman was taking his own sweet time to report. When he did report there were further hurdles like his going for a special training in Kannada (he was a Tamilian) in Mysore, his wanting to go to his native place to bring his family. When finally he commenced taking over he wanted 15 days to do so. This was in June by which time I had blown my top. I told him in no uncertain manner that he would get three days by which time if he was not ready to take the keys from me I would simply throw the keys on his table and walk off. I was so desperate and was prepared to face the Regional Office for any consequences. I left Ranebennur by the first available train to Bangalore. At the time of my leaving the branch for the last time both the Field Officer and the newly transferred Accountant had yet to report at the Branch. Thus came to an end yet another chapter in my life in a very unpalatable manner.

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