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The Divine Intervention
Mostafa Abdullah


About three months before our wedding I quit my job at the Bureau of Statistics. This may have caused some discomfort for my would-be in-laws in explaining to their friends and associates as to what I did for living. My bride also got her fair share of teasing from her friends. They teased her that she must have been very desperate for marriage to agree to be married to a good-for-nothing unemployed bloke. I heard later that she took a long time to say Kabul (formal acceptance of marriage proposal by the groom). Maybe she had her second thoughts! However, I was unemployed by choice, but it wasnít completely my doing. If I remained at the job I could have ended up as a guest of the state, behind bars, as opposed to being pampered as a natun jamai in the Shahur Bari (new groom at in-laws house).


After returning from USA I started working for the computer centre of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics located inside the Bangladesh Secretariat complex at Bijoy Nagar Road. I was put in-charge of the project for data entry of the Bangladesh census data. There were 30 data entry machines and twice that number of operators working in two shifts. All the operators were casual hire and used to be paid in cash at the end of each week. A senior administrative assistant under my watch took care of the payments and all other nitty-gritty affairs of administering. I kept myself busy with the technical and operational aspects of the data centre.

I noticed that one of the Data Entry Operator was my class mate at the university. He seemed uncomfortable working as an operator in front of me. To ease out the situation I invited him to my office one day and assured him that he need not hesitate to call on me if he ever felt so. He however maintained his distance in line with the office decorum. One day, while no one was watching he requested to see me after work. He came to my office the following evening very cautiously and with an anxious watch all around him. I assured him that I was the only one there and no one was watching. He had the following to say and left in hurry. I was too naÔve then to understand his reasons for such unusual cautious behavior.

Each week operators received their pay from the Admin Assistant by signing on a register book. It was alleged that they were being paid less than the amount earmarked by the donor agency of the project. The payment amounts were written in pencil next to their names in that register book. This didnít definitely seem right and when an operator wished to know why it was so, he was fired on the grounds of insubordination! I smelled of rat. It seemed very inappropriate to me; a young and a newly appointed officer of the government. I vowed to eradicate irregularities from my (?) office. Next day I spoke to few of my colleagues about it. Most had nothing to say but one advised that I should keep quite. But by then I was honor bound not to back out.

I called the Admin Assistant to my office and asked for the payment register to be sent to me. He seemed caught by surprise but recovered soon. With a look of contempt he told me that I need not worry about that. The payment register was in appropriate place with him. When I insisted, he said that he would see to it. The week passed by and neither the Admin Assistant or the register showed up in my office. My young blood said; fight on. My honor was at stake in front of my class mate and other operators.

On the following payment date I arrived at the operatorsí room before the Admin Assistant came there with his register book. On seeing me he announced that payment could not be made on that day due to some unavoidable circumstances. He returned to his office with the money and the book. I boiled in rage and wrote a very strong letter to my superior describing his activities with recommendation for severe punishment. Two days passed and in the mean time, and very few in the office spoke to me much. On the third day as I arrived at the office I was greeted by office messenger with a letter in his hand. I acknowledged the receipt of the letter and opened it. The letter read that I was transferred with immediate effect to one of Bureauís temporary storage facilities at Tejgoan. My Admin Assistant had long hands that reached the top most chair of the Division.


My immediate reaction was to do away with government service. I sought the advice of one of my dependable seniors who also happened to be the overall in-charge of bureauís all storage facilities. He said that officially he must advise me to join immediately at the Tejgoan storage. Off the record he made me aware that the Tejgoan facility was notorious for misappropriations and theft. Anyone could be implicated easily there and may even end up in jail for nothing. I foresaw who and what was I up to. I needed to get out of the government service in any way I could.

Everyone discouraged me saying that it was much harder to get out of government service than getting in. I was most unlikely to succeed in my attempts. I felt desperate at times but did not give up hope and kept on searching for an avenue. I said to myself again and again what my father used to say: ďnothing happens without a reason, the One above knows it all and He must have had a good reason to make it happenĒ. Throughout my life whenever I came against a blind wall, a door opened up for me sooner or later, by some Devine Intervention.

This time the Devine Intervention came in the form (Usila) of one Mr. Sanaullah Sheikh. Mr. Sheikh ran a prestigious consulting house called SARM Associates. SARM Associates was later bought over by the Islam Group of Zaharul Islam Khan after Mr. Sheikh retired from professional life. I worked briefly at the SARM Associates while at the final year of the university. While working there he offered me to coach his sons at home after hours. This way I had easier access to Mr. Sheikh, an otherwise a highly formal person in official dealings.

I told him of my precarious situation and sought his help. He thought for a moment and picked up the phone and called the Secretary of the division that I worked in. He told the Secretary that he needed me for a very important project of his own. He requested for the Secretaryís favorable consideration to my application for resignation. When the telephone conversation ended Mr. Sheikh told me to see the Secretary next morning with an application in hand for resignation. The following day I saw the Secretary first thing in the morning. He didnít seem very pleased with me but never the less approved my application. I was out of the government service no sooner. Through all this something good came out. But thatís another story that I will narrate later.


Mean while I will end this one with a short story that I heard from a wise old man:
As flood water was rising steadily everyone scrambled for safer grounds, except one who claimed that he had complete trust in God and that God will surely save him if danger really befell him. As rising water came closer, a neighbor offered to help him to move away with them. He refused. The water kept rising and drowned his house half way. He took shelter on a makeshift bamboo platform with all his possessions. A passing boat offered to help him but he again refused claiming that his faith was too strong to abandon his trust in God. The water rose further and this time he had to abandon most of his possessions and took shelter on the roof of his house with his only remaining possession; a goat. A passing helicopter spotted them and threw a rope for him to climb up. The goat jumped to the safety of the copter as it sped away.
The water rose further and finally drowned the man completely. In desperation he shouted to the God as to why God did not save him in spite of his complete faith in Him. God smiled and replied that He sent help three times to save him but each time he refused to recognize it. First it came through a neighbor, then a passing boat and a finally a helicopter. Even the goat saw it, but he didnít.
One has to have the mindís eye to recognize when Godís help come or in other words: The Devine Intervention takes place.

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