Saturday, October 02, 2010

A Day at the Taluk Office

This is a dramatized account of my mother's recent tryst at the local taluk office. She was required to get a notarized document and was directed to this particular office. She was accompanied by a young man who works as an assistant to one of the many agents who help people with such legalities.

The scene: The lady and the assistant trudged down a narrow,woe begotten lane in a woe begotten location in North Bangalore.Somewhere, among the multitude of thatched huts, was the office. They looked carefully into each of those huts before they recognized one of them as the office.There was a lone man sitting at a table with a heap of papers to his left. There was a small cup of tea to his right. He seemed to be in a foul mood, quite typical of government officials who are forced to work,and the dingy room did nothing to alleviate his condition.

Before they enter:

The assistant: Madam, you will have to give him 'something' if you want things to get done quickly.

The lady nods and they enter.

Inside the office:

The lady: I need you to prepare a family tree. Here is a draft version of it (holding out a piece of paper).As you can see; this is my husband's name, this is my name, this is my daughter's and there are no others.Here's the necessary proof.(She goes on to show various government documents specifying the details of her family).

The official:Alright, but these names are written in English. I will prepare a document in Kannada.

The lady:I have to send copies of this to people in Mumbai and Hyderabad! How are they supposed to understand Kannada? (The assistant also pleaded in order to soothe the official).

The official (looking visibly offended): I belong to this state. You cannot force me to write in any other language. I will write it in Kannada.

The lady and the assistant decide not to push things further. They accept whatever he has written. The assistant,with some subtlety, signals to the lady. She duly offers four hundred rupees to the official as she has been instructed earlier.

The lady and the assistant make their way out of the miserable room and visit a notary. The notary translated and notarized the document.

The translated document doesn't state who is the husband and who's the wife. It doesn't specify if the child is a son or a daughter(this is actually a big deal in Indian family law).It only depicts a hierarchy of names. The script below the diagram reads, "If no female children/legal heirs are specified, then I take sole responsibility in case of any litigation".

The lady sighs; the fact that the child is female had been lost in several layers of translation.

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