Sometimes I’m afraid that I’ve written too many letters to you. Eventually, they will all sound the same…blah, blah, blah. Please pay attention to this one. Your grandfather in India has had a very instructive life. I hope some day you get to meet him and learn from his life story. This letter is about him.
There was a man preaching in Aizawl. He was publicly accusing your grandfather in India of corruption. Your Grandpa and Grandma were building their mansion in Aizawl in the Chaltlang Mualveng locality. This man’s accusation was that this house could not be built on a policeman’s salary; even one who retired as a Deputy General of Police. I believe he called upon your Grandpa to repent and for the proper authorities to investigate.
You Aunt Rebecca called up Mommy. They were talking about this incident. Aunt Rebecca asked Mommy, “Why is he saying this? What do you know about this? This isn’t true, is it?” Mommy just kept quiet. She didn’t say anything. Neither did I.
Around that time, the mautam famine had been going on. I was trying to help relief efforts to feed the starving. I needed your grandfather’s power and influence to help, if for no other reason to name drop with custom officials in the Calcutta port. I was also trying to save my marriage with Mommy. Hurting this man Mommy loved was not a good strategy. I reasoned now was not the time or place for openness or honesty with Mommy’s younger sister and brother.
From what I heard, people laughed at this preacher’s anti-corruption crusade. He was thought a fool. Everyone knows that Mr. B.T. Nghinglova is one of India’s most honest high-level police officers. He had a stellar career and a reputation for courage and fairness. He was brought into difficult situations to clean up messes that others left. He saved many lives during the Bombay Riots. He wouldn’t let the crime bosses get special treatment in jail. He was a respected man. In 2013, his good reputation led to him becoming president of the Mizoram political party, Trinamool Congress.
I had my own problems, so I hung that preacher out to dry. I stayed silent even though I knew what he said was true; more than even he knew. Your grandfather, B.T. Nghinglova, is a dirty cop. He took a lot of bribe money for years and years. It paid for that house, his kids’ educations, their 2 flats in Pune, a car, nice clothes, expensive gifts for his brothers and sisters and the wedding of Mommy and me. B.T. Nghinglova, in spite of his best intentions, was corrupted.
Every day in India, bribe money falls like a monsoon rain from the skies. Baksheesh never stops its downpour of rupee coins from heaven. It’s like standing underneath the front porch of a house. The deluge is coming down all around you. You simply have to reach out your hand and it is filled with coins. Then you put out a cup, then a bucket; they fill faster than you can carry them away. You may want to stay dry, but all around you, like any good Hindi movie, everyone is singing and dancing in the rain of money.
Your grandfather is a disciplined man with simple tastes. He hardly spends any money on himself. He lived modestly on his policeman’s salary. His accommodation and food were paid for. I honestly believe he never once solicited bribes or a kickbacks. He didn’t need to.
The gifts, the graft, and the money in envelopes appear unbidden. It actually takes a great deal of effort to turn them down. The whole police machinery is greased with this money. The police are underpaid for the work they do and risks they take. The wealthy and business people need the police to do their jobs well and fairly. They need to make sure charges get laid, investigations are conducted and routine security surveillance of their property happens. They just make sure the system works for them. Donations are made so that good things happen. They’re not asking for anyone to do anything bad.
To step outside this system would end your career advancement. You would get shuffled off to a posting in the middle of nowhere. You would be viewed with deep suspicion if you DIDN’T take the money. Remember it’s not viewed as a bribe, it’s just a gift. And people line up out your office door to give you these gifts. Gifts that soon make you really wealthy.
Maybe your grandfather did resist accepting the money. The problem is that he is a big man in India. As he rose up the ranks, more people asked him for help. There are appearances to keep up. A wife to keep happy. Children to feed, clothe and educate. Poor family members back in Mizoram. The demands piled higher and higher upon him. I’m convinced he never once took the money for himself. He simply took what he was given and quickly gave it away to somebody else.
Now here in Canada, your grandfather would get charged, convicted and go to jail for a very long time. I would happily take you to visit him often there in jail. He has a lot to teach his grandchildren. However, he lives in India. Do not expect anything to happen. He only lives behind the bars of a false identity.
I am hopeful one day, he will confess to his crimes, repent of his evil ways and try to make restitution for the money he’s taken illegally. Hopefully, good relationships can be restored between you and your family in Mizoram. We’ll visit then.
Kids, you are not held hostage by the actions of your parents or grandparents, but do not be deceived. If you sit still and be quiet, evil will not overlook you. Instead it will overtake you. It must be resisted and sometimes you need to flee from it. If it can corrupt a well-intentioned man like your grandfather, it can corrupt you.