What The Cen­sus Did?

Made the work count.

Woman's Era - - Short Story - By Dr Cha­ganti Na­garaja Rao

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).

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