A memoir 'A Fool'

‘You can win a fool by agreeing with him.’
(To the memory of Aroon Gupta who is dead)

‘Don’t smoke in my presence. I am your officer with a Ph. D,’ said he.

A R stamped the half-smoked cigarette.

‘The man is suffering from inferiority complex. He was studying in the university when I was there. I remember his mediocrity. And now he is the ‘officer with a Ph. D’. He doesn’t have the intelligence and efficiency to read and think and write even small sentences. He doesn’t know the rudiments of his own subject. Alien subject to an alien! He knows how to count money. I know how to handle him. I will do my literary work and tell him: “You are right. You are right.”’

‘One day he went to the extent of saying: ‘I am always right.’

A R said to him: ‘Yes, you are always right.’

A R thought of Chanakya: ‘You can win a fool by agreeing with him.’

One day officer with Ph. D joined his hands and told A R: ‘You must take care of me. Protect me. I am your officer with a Ph. D.’


A R thought: ‘You don’t know me. My name is A R. I am a genius. I wear the face of an ignorant man. Mine is the face of a ninny.’

A R carried his things in a bag and arranged them in a cupboard. He occupied a chair in the large useless room with torn and dirty curtains. The officer with Ph. D hated beauty. A R scattered useless files on the large table.

The Ph. D officer thought: ‘I will make him work. He belongs to the group that spreads dirt and filth. And I detest this man. His intelligence is his curse.’

A R was very careful about the key of the cupboard.

He did not ask anybody to contribute write-ups to the journal. He wrote them all in the large useless room with torn and dirty curtains.

The blue journal had Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers on the cover.

The Ph. D officer Aroon did not even look at the Sunflowers. He was a hater of beauty.

A R was a heavy smoker and he treated the large useless room with dirty and torn curtains as an ash tray.

‘Smoke and stamp the cigarette butts under this table.’

The officer with Ph. D asked a simple and incompetent man Thakur Dass to be his assistant. A R made Thakur Dass his friend. And A R taught him whatever there was to be taught him.

A R wrote down a book in the large useless room with dirty and torn curtains in some days and then attended to his work. A R said to the Ph. D officer: ‘It will take three months.’

The Ph. D officer insisted: ‘I want a message from a VVIP.’
‘Ha ha ha!’

G Aroon’s mental level! Message from a VVIP! He can’t think beyond this littleness.

The Ph. D officer’s son was to get married. He did not send the marriage invitation card to A R. Besides, he was afraid of the judge so long as the judge was in job. When the judge retired the Ph. D officer abused him behind his back.

The Ph. D officer took away the bundle of currency notes home. Next year also he took away another bundle of currency notes home.

He told A R the genius a number of times: ‘I am honest. I don’t drink tea because it is immoral to spend the money on my tea.’

‘Where is my commission….my share?’

The shopkeeper obliged him. Then he said to A R the genius: ‘I am honest.’

A R said to him: ‘I know that you are very honest.’

A R had offered lunches to the unthinking lot. The bill came to 6000 rupees.

The Ph. D officer didn’t want to pay the money to him. He wanted me to make the payment. A cheap man! He did not change the curtains because he hated beauty.

When PLK took over he paid all the money to A R. And PKK also paid whatever the establishment owed the hotelier.

‘Don’t accept the money.’


‘Recall the outside duty.’

‘You are not the officer now. I got all the money from the persons whom you hate….PKK and PLK. They belong to ‘the other’ group.’

The annual day celebration went very well. Next year also the celebration went very well. The two functions exposed the incompetence of the Ph. D officer. A R went on enhancing his inferiority complex. The books that A R had written in the large useless room were in the market. The Ph. D officer G Aroon went on showing his cowardly admiration for very small people. He even carried the umbrella for them in the rain.

‘I must protect them from the rain.’

The Ph. D officer’s jealousy came to the fore when he found that A R was popular among the ladies. They liked him and confided in him.

One day the Ph. D officer said to the ladies: ‘Why don’t you tell me what you want? Don’t go to A R with your problems.’

The Ph. D officer was so complex ridden that he asked A R to talk about him and praise him in his retirement lecture.

One day the Ph. D officer had said to A R: ‘Ashok Kaul has embezzled five rupees. This is corruption.’

A R had thought: ‘You can win a fool by agreeing with him.’

One day the Ph. D officer came to A R’s place. A R was above all littleness.

A R remembered the day when the Ph. D officer had told him: ‘This is the cream of my group.’

‘Yes. You are right. You are very right.’

One day the officer with Ph. D said to A R: ‘You have stolen the papers from the drawer.’

Shock! Shock! Shock!

This fool calls me a thief. He knows only two words: “B C ”. “Behan ch…….d! ” Time passed. Days, weeks, months and years passed.

I still remember the parties I threw in his quarters and at Patnitop and Mansar. He used to drink to his fill.

“You fool, I know big people you can’t even dream of because you are a fool and will remain a fool till death.”

‘Do you know the Ph. D officer is no more? He suffered and died far away from his home-------unheard, unwept and unsung!’

‘This is what happens to mean and wicked persons. And I don’t praise bad people when they are dead. A rascal remains a rascal even when he is dead.’

The judge informed A R about his death: ‘The officer with Ph. D gave up the ghost….kicked the bucket. But he suffered excruciatingly.’

‘The wages of wickedness is suffering.’

(Dr. Aroon Kumar Gupta, who had been the principal of the Government Degree College at Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir, and I retired from active service on 30 September 2003.)

*{Arvind Gigoo is the author of The Ugly Kashmiri (Cameos in exile) published by Allied Publishers, Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi and Gulliver in Kashmir (A book of cameos) published by Notion Press, Chennai, and is the co-editor of From Home to House (Writings of Kashmiri Pandits in exile) published by HarperCollins Publishers, Gurgaon. His literary write-ups, book reviews and the English translations of the Hindi and Kashmiri short stories and poems appear in the various literary journals and newspapers brought out in the country and abroad. His translations are: Waves (Arjan Dev Majboor), The Silence Within (Bimla Raina), No Earth Under Our Feet (Khema Kaul and Agni Shekhar), The Chinar is My Address (Maharaj Krishen Santoshi), And I Left (Prem Nath Shad), Light and Shade (Sunita Raina Pandit) and Anecdotes Dina Nath Nadim (30 poems). Arvind Gigoo writes on films and film personalities too. His write-ups on Substance and Shadow by Dilip Kumar, Romancing With Life by Dev Anand, And then One Day by Naseer ud Din Shah, Beyond the Hit Girl by Asha Parekh have appeared in newspapers and literary journals. He lives in Jammu.}