A Charade in my Office

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It was a hot summer day. I was sitting in my office immersed in some file! Suddenly I heard a frightening noise and jumped from my seat.

A snake had slithered into our office! A snake into a government office which handles files about educational institutes and schools!

Within seconds all were out of the building!

A snake! A poisonous snake!

“Who saw it?”

Mr. Siva, a clerk who handles provident fund accounts, was standing speechless! A sturdy man! He should be the one who saw. The peon Ranga was running here and there.

“When Mr. Siva tried to retrieve a file the snake had hissed angrily at him!” shouted Ranga.

“Snake, A long venomous snake!” screams all over. The office was vacated instantly! The snake should have curled up and gone to sleep!

Peon Ranga was sent to the police station for help while the Educational officer sought safety in his jeep!

The police arrived, but retreated when they heard that it was a snake! This was not their jurisdiction. They directed the case to the Fire Service.

The staff union leader arrived there to the spot and arranged for an emergency meeting!

A charter of demands beginning with safety measures that needed to be adopted in a government office was drawn up!

Local TV channel sent a camera man to interview the affected persons. It didn’t forget to take pictures of the crowd anxious to have a look at the intruder in a government office!

When the news was flashed in the channel, the State Assembly was in session. The opposite party moved an urgent appeal enquiring the steps taken to protect the government servants! All parties agreed that a committee should be formed to look into this matter. It may affect their votes, otherwise!

The committee consisted of The Animal Husbandry Chairman and Directors of Forests and Zoos was formed. Three months notice was served to submit the committee report!

Meanwhile the District Educational Officer contacted the Chief Educational Officer, who in turn contacted the District Collector and the Director of Education. The Collector, following government norms, passed orders that a snake charmer be deputed to capture the reptilian intruder. The order was passed on to the CEO, with a copy to the Director of schools. The order in turn was passed on to the District Educational Officer, who in turn asked the head clerk what the procedure was.

The head clerk took some time to examine the rules and found that snake catching was not mentioned in there!

By the time, outside, the staff union leader joined with other organizations had gathered with the Press in tow and demanded that such risks in the office be banned!

They shouted, “Safety for government staff! No snakes allowed!”

The head clerk meanwhile discovered a rule that dealt with pest control for the office buildings! But there was no mention of snakes–only rats, termites and cockroaches.

“But if rats can be exterminated, then why not snakes,” argued the head clerk.

The DEO agreed and asked him to initiate action. The head clerk convinced him that a closed tender would be advisable than an open one!

The head clerk called Ranga and asked him to run off on his printing machine three letterheads of three different firms specializing in snake catching. He sent Ranga again to find a professional snake catcher. Ranga bargained with a snake charmer and settled the matter for hundred rupees.

Meanwhile the letterheads arrived and the head clerk typed out quotations, with least being eight hundred rupees. He got three people to sign them and took them to the DEO for endorsement. Impatient to settle the flaring up matter, he signed it!

The professional snake charmer was shown where Mr. Siva heard the hissing and saw the snake. Soon the only sound of snake charmer flute (magudi) filled the air. After two or three hours of his playing flute all around, he came out looking puzzled.

“Sir, I think it has gone away.”

But the dilemma! Without a snake who will pay him?

Now the head clerk came with another solution. He sent a bill to pass orders to appoint a snake charmer permanently at the government office as there are a lot of snakes roaming around!

I was not in that office to see if it was sanctioned and the snake was caught!


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