He tuned in his torn piece of cloth he has been calling ‘blanket’ for the past two months. He had a better living standard in the cell that he was confined to for the past six years. The top part of the cardboard piece he slept on was still damp from a recent shower. He remembered the day they came to his house and said he was to stand trial. He also remembered the various faces come before him and point their fingers at him and scream the truths he made them do. He was probably the hundredth in a list of two hundred people from his office who were apprehended for bribery after the new law took shape in the country. They confiscated his (hard) earned money as well as all the assets he had placed for himself in pseudo names and the loads of cash he had stashed away in a bunker in his broken down ancestral home. He was left with just the dress he wore.
As the world stood witness to the downfall of countless corrupt officials and politicians in the country, he was turned from being a prominent government personnel to a number among the guilty on trial. They were all put in special programs where they had an average sentence of 12 years with the option to work for national rebuilding process that would give them an early free pass to the open world. He served in a group of government servants who were all equally capable of their job as well as had amassed wealth by keeping the system in their tight clutches through corruption. They were all given responsibilities to redefine the same offices they worked in so that they could be made corrupt free.
This was one of the most challenging times in his life as he had to walk through the same paths over and over in a day, go over the same files he would have only opened if it had a bundle of cash bulging out of the section where he had to sign. Going through each and every process he had to write down from his memory the ways he would aid corruption and then analyze ways where that could be stopped and corrected. He even got his name mentioned in a jail assembly for creating a self corrective system that would identify corruption and through the discussion in an open meeting get corrected itself. He called it ‘the Maya Program’ in memory of his daughter whom he has not seen since he got arrested. But he knew that they were doing good as one thing the new law did was that the families of the corrupt officers should not be affected when they go to the jail. He has not passed a day without thanking for that gesture. And then finally when the day came for him to go free just like any prisoner leaving the jail, he too had a sent off ceremony, some money and the address to his rehabilitation office.
The rehabilitation office was set up to help those who were finishing their sentence as the current society where corruption was equivalent to murder would look at him only as a psychopath who was sentenced for a murder spree that lasted almost twenty years. He had decided not to go there and in return moved to a rather underground civilization that existed of former corrupt people who lived just enough to not face the society they had milked all their life. It has been two months and he is already part of the filth. But he was a changed man and he knew it, but his fear and shame of what he had done in his life did not make him strong enough to face the world. He turned again and tried to sleep.
He woke up when he felt someone call his name. He opened his eyes and looked.
“Sir, is that you?”
“Who is it?” He asked trying hard to see in the dark the face of the caller.
“We have been waiting for you in the rehabilitation center for you. We have then searched most of the city for last two months. Why did you not come there?” He looked at the young man who was now sitting next to him holding his hand.
“Who are you? DO I know you?” He asked
“You do sir, I am Bhasker, you have taught us a lot, we have learned a lot from you. Your Maya program has been such a success not just in our office but all over the country. Government offices all across the country are now enrolled in the Maya program. It is making such a progress and even the slightest possibility of corruption is getting self corrected. You have given us something through which we are building a new generation of citizens who find pride in not being corrupt. The nation would like to appreciate you. Please come with us”
”I can’t I did not create the Maya program for your office; I always knew that a program like the Maya will work. I had kept it under the carpet for so long just to satisfy and feed my greed and corruption. I have been punished for keeping that away from you all and so if you give me an appreciation today, it would be so wrong to say. I can’t come Bhasker, please move on”
He turned back in his blanket and kept his ears open to listen to Bhasker’s footsteps move away. He was not sure if Bhasker believed him or if he got confused. May be Bhasker believed him and decided that he should be left to his own fate and that he did not have a place in the new society. Or may be he felt that the story should be told to the world and that way the rehabilitation centers should be shifted to these underground civilizations where the yesterday’s corrupt will show light for a uncorrupted future for the world. Either way he can now sleep in peace for his efforts have given him a reason to believe that he has not completely lost himself.