I first started to work in 1993 in an aviation company and by 1996, that company was showing signs of wear and tear. So, the monthly salary became trimonthly and then half-yearly. Mind you, this is still one month salary. Only the periodicity of disbursement is lengthening.
Anyways, I remember drawing my last salary in October 1996 and thereafter nothing. But I noticed around me, in the office, many complaints, grievance and laments. Initially it made sense, but often times I had this feeling that people were over doing it. The fact that this acting was done in my presence and in front of some unfortunate others, and for a reason, escaped me for months.
Then, one day the bubble burst.
I remember I was in the afternoon duty, and I walked into the office and into a storm. In a short while the truth was revealed. Most of the “No-Salary Crying Colleagues” were indeed drawing their salaries in a stealthy manner. They had cut a deal with the Finance Manager of the Company who periodically cut them a cheque.
Foreseeing that, now if the denied are not paid, the ones with the “salary” may have to do the duty, an understanding was reached and everyone “left out” were assured salaries. And I too, went to the Finance Manager’s Office and he cut me a cheque.
Then a few more.
No money ever came.
By mid 1997, I was in a different aviation company, in Calcutta, painting that town red. By the end of 1997, I was in the red. I returned home to Bombay to become white again and there waited for me, many letters and envelopes, some of which from the bank. I had absolutely forgotten about these last cheques of my previous company. And there it reappeared back from the envelopes, with lots of stamps of black and blue on its face, and stuck with each of it, was a paper, with a tick mark on – “insufficient funds.”