Sunday, June 5, 2016

A “Square Peg” in a “Round Hole”

Humor in Uniform

Someone asked me: “How is it possible for an officer to remain honest in the all pervasive corrupt environment of today?”

I told him the story of an incorruptible officer I came across in the Navy – let us call him “J”.

I want to tell you the story of this honest officer too.

So– let me delve into my HUMOUR IN UNIFORM archives  and pull out the story of “J” – for you to read  and ponder over...

A Spoof

SQUARE PEG” IN ROUND HOLE” – An Apocryphal Story By Vikram Karve

“J” was an honest, sincere, upright, straightforward, patriotic, service minded officer.

He truly epitomized the motto of his alma mater:


“J” also scrupulously followed his Academy Honour Code:

“I shall not Lie  I shall not Cheat  I shall not Steal  and I will not tolerate those who do so”.

In a nutshell  “J” possessed ideal OLQ (Officer Like Qualities).

One day  most unexpectedly  “J” was posted to a “lucrative” appointment.

Everyone was surprised.

There had to be some mistake somewhere.

How could a morally upright officer like “J” be appointed to such a “profitable” appointment?

There were rumors that this most “sought after” appointment was auctioned.

Or  you had to have heavy pull to get this “prize” appointment.

Sometimes  they gave such “lucrative” appointments to “loyal” officers on the verge of retirement  to enable them to settle down “comfortably” after retirement.

Most people were surprised how “J” had got this “lucrative” appointment.

But  “J” was aghast on seeing his appointment letter.

“J” was a career conscious officer.

Till now  his track record had been perfect.

“J” had done all the right courses  he had even qualified the prestigious staff college.

“J” had held the best of appointments – in operations  on staff  and in training.

And  suddenly  out of the blue  disaster had struck – and “J” was appointed to a peripheral organization which had quite a sleazy reputation.

Were they trying to sideline him?

Was it the end of the road for his Navy career ambitions?

Had they put him on a slippery slope?

“J” told his boss to get the transfer cancelled.

“J” protested: “There is no way I am going there. I do not want to work in a corrupt organization.”

The boss looked sympathetically at “J” and said: “It’s no use. I have already spoken to everyone to have your appointment cancelled. But orders for your transfer have come from the top. They want an honest and upright officer to clean up that organization and you have been handpicked to do the job. So you have to go. I am sure you will be able to sort out those corrupt buggers, improve matters and set things right over there.”

After “J” left  the boss murmured to himself: “I only hope that he sorts them out  and that they don’t sort him out instead.”

“J” reported to his new assignment.

From the very first day  “J” got on the job  setting things right  and ensuring that everything was done honestly  and strictly as per the rules and regulations.

All corrupt activities were stopped.

A few honest vendors and contractors were happy that things had been streamlined  and now  they did not have to pay bribes anymore  as long as they did things properly as per procedure.

But  most vendors and contractors  who had got used to profiteering by subverting the system  were most unhappy.

And  as an immediate expression of their displeasure  they stopped paying the customary “mamool” – and the time-honored monthly “hafta” – to the employees of the office where “J” was in-charge.

Everyone tried their best to corrupt “J” – and – entice him into their corrupt ways.

But – “J” he would not budge.

When they tried to bribe him with money  “J” refused and he said to them: “The salary I get is enough to meet my needs  so I don’t need any extra money.”

When they tried to induce him by offering him a flat in a posh township at “concessional” rates  “J” refused and he said: “My father has left me a bungalow  so I don’t need a house.”

When they offered him prized bottles of the choicest Single Malt Whisky  “J” refused and said: “I drink Rum – and I can get as much Rum as I want from the Navy canteen.”

They tried everything – gifts, perks, favors, booze, discounts, kickbacks – but nothing worked.

His fellow officers in the organization were worried that “J” was setting a dangerous precedent.

They feared that if they did not act fast  the “virus of honesty” may contaminate the entire organization.

So  the other officers counseled “J” – and they advised him not to “rock the boat” – and that he should let things go on  as they were going on for so many years.

But nothing worked  and “J” remained steadfast in his honesty.

It was decided to call a meeting to discuss this grave issue of “J”.

Vendors, Contractors, all the staff of J’s office  even a rep from the organization’s headquarters  all were present.

“corruption consultant” (who was an expert on bribery and corruption) was specially invited.

“We are all in bad shape ever since “J” has arrived. All commissions, mamoolhafta,cuts – all our earnings have stopped. I am finding it impossible to pay my EMIs of the flat I have booked. Had I known that an officer like “J” was coming  I would never have booked that expensive flat. Even day-to-day living has become difficult,” the No. 2 Man in J’s office complained.

“I have never seen a terrible bugger like “J” – he just won’t eat money himself – and if that is not bad enough – “J” does not let us eat money,” someone said, “He seems incorruptible.”

“No one is incorruptible – everyone has a price...” the “corruption consultant” said.

“But we tried everything possible – money, gifts, booze, concessional flat, plot of land – he does not want anything,” the No. 2 Man said.

“He must have some weakness that can be exploited,” the “corruption consultant” said.

“I don’t know whether I should say this?” said a young lady  a stenographer  who was J’s secretary.

“Say whatever you have to say. We need to brainstorm,” the “corruption consultant” said.

“I have seen him giving me the glad eye when he thought I wasn’t looking,” she said.

“See  I told you – the bugger has got to have some weakness,” the “corruption consultant” was exultant – and he said: “So your boss “J” has got a roving eye for beautiful women.”

“I think so – I have noticed the way he looks at me with yearning in his eyes,” the steno said shyly.

An entrepreneur  who was the main vendor  looked at the steno  and he said to the Steno: “Why don’t you…?”

“Me...? Are you crazy...? I am a married woman. How can you even say such things...?” the steno shouted angrily.

“Don’t worry. I have handled many such cases. I will make all the arrangements,” the “corruption consultant” said, “But we will need some funds…”

“Not to worry. We will finance everything,” the contractors and vendors said in unison.

“Now we have to find an opportune time,” the “corruption consultant” said.

The No. 2 Man looked at the consultant and said: “I think he will be living alone from Monday onwards. His wife is going away to her mother’s place along with the children for the summer vacation.”

“Then what are we waiting for...? This is the opportune moment. See – everything is falling into place. You go ahead and talk to him  and I will arrange everything accordingly,” the “corruption consultant” said.

Seeing the confused look on the No. 2 Man’s face  the “corruption consultant” said: “You don’t worry – I will tell you exactly what you should do.”

On Monday morning  the No. 2 Man entered J’s office  and after some official discussion  the No. 2 Man looked at “J” – and the No. 2 Man slyly said to “J” : “Sir – your Madam has gone away to her mother’s place  so you must be feeling lonely. If you want I can arrange some company for you.”

“Not to worry,” “J” said, “I have the company of my books. I plan to catch up on my reading.”

“Sir – not that type of company – I meant something to fulfill your desires,” the No. 2 Man said.

“To fulfill my desires – what do you mean?” asked “J”, looking puzzled.

“Sir – we can arrange for you have a good time – the best girls – Sir – from top class escort services  whatever you want – models, film stars, college girls, housewives, matured girls, working girls, virgins, aunties – high society girls – as per your choice  Sir – from best escort agencies – very discreet – Sir – as per your choice and taste – Sir – you name it – and we will arrange whatever you want...” the No. 2 Man said.

“J” could not believe what he was hearing. 

He was dumbstruck.

“J” looked in stunned silence at his No. 2 Man.

The No. 2 Man broke the silence.

The No. 2 Man said to “J”

“Sir – if you prefer male company – we can arrange cute boys, macho men….”

On hearing this – “J” lost his temper. 

“J” shouted at his No. 2 Man:

“You get out of here immediately  or I will take disciplinary action against you…” 

“J” looked so angry  so furious  that the No. 2 Man thought that “J” was going to have a heart attack or a paralytic fit.

On seeing J’s anger  the terrified No. 2 Man ran away from J’s office.


They tried again and again to corrupt “J”.

But  they did not succeed in corrupting “J”.

 “J” remained scrupulously honest for his entire tenure.

Yes  “J” proved that he was truly incorruptible.

After completing his tenure of 2 years without blemish  “J” moved on to his “criteria appointment”.

Then  a sad thing happened.

“J” was passed over for promotion – yes – he was superseded for promotion.

“J” was so devastated by his supersession  that he quit the Navy immediately.

I am happy to report that “J” did extremely well in his second innings in the “civvy street” – and he is enjoying great success in the corporate sector  where his ethics and moral values are valued. 

Yes – a paradox, isn’t it  his military ethics are valued more in the civilian corporate world than in the military itself. 

“J” still feels bad about quitting the Navy – a service he loved so much.

But – the fact of the matter is that  J’s departure was a greater loss to the Navy than it was to “J” himself.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

1. This story is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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