What The Census Did?
Made the work count.
rilekha was conspicuous by her absence at the awards ceremony at the state headquarters. It was a prestigious award given in the presence of the top brass of the state administration and as such no winner of the award would miss to attend the function and receive the award since it would add a feather in an official’s cap and keep him or her in the good looks of higher officials of the government. Then why Srilekha did not attend the function personally was a matter of surprise for all.
The decennial census data collection was to commence within a week. Mohan, the census officer of the town had concluded the last training class to the enumerators and supervisors with the remarks: “Thanks for attending all the training classes. Now I am confident that you are left with not the slightest doubt about completing the task successfully. Our town is ahead of others in that we commenced the training classes first and concluded first while other towns in the district have not even initiated the process. I expect at least two awards for you. Please note another important thing. The data you now collect is used by governments at all levels – central, state and local – for planning the development process in the coming 10 years. So understand the importance of the work you are going to do. You must be proud of being an enumerator and supervisor of the decennial census data collection. Best of luck!”
ll the census staff paid keen attention to the instructions of the officers. But Mohan’s eyes were on
The enumerator and the supervisor who would submit the data first and second would win awards. Mohan was eagerly waiting for Srilekha to come first. You must be proud of being an enumerator and supervisor of the decennial census data collection. Best of luck!” All the census staff paid keen attention to the instructions of the officers. But Mohan’s eyes were on Srilekha who paid undiverted attention to his instructions throughout the four training classes, besides being the first to attend the classes. Mohan was sure she would definitely win the award this time.
Srilekha who paid undiverted attention to his instructions throughout the four training classes, besides being the first to attend the classes. Mohan was sure she would definitely win the award this time.
It was 9 February. The decennial census data collection commenced. There were reports from supervisors that the enumerators were able to cover the day’s work without the slightest error. Now and then certain enumerators approached Mohan to get their doubts cleared. Mohan devoted maximum time for overall check. Everywhere he heard from the citizens that enumerators were doing an excellent job. But his attention was on Srilekha’s performance. She was posted in the locality of VIPS. When Mohan made rounds in her enumeration block he received reports that she had already covered the block once within the first week and that she would take up the second round to cover the population not available during her first visit.
‘Yes. She will get the award,’ Mohan felt confidently as he received reports from her supervisor and the residents.
Days ran fast. Mohan took all precautions from time to time to ensure that the entire census work would run smoothly and efficiently leaving no single house or person uncovered.
It was 28 February, the last day for collecting the data. Mohan was sitting in his chamber without performing any other work with total attention on the census work. The enumerator and the supervisor who would submit the data first and second would win awards. Mohan was eagerly waiting for Srilekha to come first. While he was in a pensive mood over the census work a retired grey-haired man entered his chamber and disturbed his mood.
“Sir, the enumerator has not come to my house as my house was locked during the last two days. Can I furnish my particulars now?” said the elderly man.
ohan was terribly shocked. He hurriedly summoned the statistical officer (S.O) and enquired the number of houses that might have not been covered by enumerators in all the blocks. The S.O palliated his tension by assuring him that nothing went wrong except the complainant’s house and that he verified daily the house numbers covered. After the discussion only Mohan had come to know that the enumerator had not come to his house who was the census officer for the entire town.
“If the enumerator had not come to the census officer’s house, I am afraid how many houses the enumerators might have left uncovered! I would cost my entire career,” Mohan uttered in a quivering voice.
“Sir, I have verified their daily progress. I am sure no house is left uncovered,” said the S.O.
“Please enquire who is the enumerator of my residential block that has not come the census officer’s house,” said Mohan hurriedly.
The S.O. went to his chamber, enquired and came after a few minutes.
“Sir, she is Srilekha,” said the S.O.
“My goodness! She belied all my hopes. I expected her performance to be excellent, but she utterly disappointed me,” Mohan mumbled in confusion.
A few minutes later Srilekha came to his chamber. Mohan threw a serious look at her.
“Sir, I know all your particulars. You are staying alone in your house. That is why I have recorded them even without coming to your house,” said Srilekha.
Mohan opened the census register and saw the particulars she recorded about him which read: Mr. Mohan (Head of the family)
Mrs Srilekha (Wife)
ohan was shocked at her boldness to record such false information so deliberately in the most important official record. He looked at her seriously. Unable to tolerate his anger she wrote something on a paper, put it on his table and sneaked through the door. Mohan took the paper and read to his astonishment: “I noted in the census record that I am residing with you in your house as your wife. In fact you are only living in my heart since our first meeting two years ago. But my heart has no door number. It always resides with you in your house…. I am sorry, in our house.”
Two months had rolled away fast. Srilekha was adjudged as the best enumerator in the census town. But she didn’t attend the function to personally receive the award.
The next day the office manager received a phone call from the state census office.
“Why did Srilekha not attend the function to receive the prestigious award?” said an officer from the state census office.
The manager replied: “Sir, she couldn’t personally attend the function to receive the award since the date and time of receiving the coveted award coincided with the most auspicious date and time of the census enumerator’s becoming the life partner of the census officer.” We
“Sir, I know all your particulars. You are staying alone in your house. That is why I have recorded them even without coming to your house,” said Srilekha. Mohan opened the census register and saw the particulars she recorded about him which read: Mr. Mohan (Head of the family) Mrs Srilekha (Wife).