Kirsten my "waiter" son.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


You throw the title ‘Secretary’ at the common man and what mental image does that conjure up? Yeah, you’re right on target. A slim, sexy, slinky siren. A married-man eater or the boss’ lapdog. But if I say ‘bulldog’, I bet your first reaction would be ‘Get outta here! Are you out of your mind?’ So let me tell you how a Secretary gets this prestigious title anyway.
In the Society I live in, there is a potpourri of personalities. Some are affable; others awful. Some follow rules; others break them. For a person who grew up on rules and taught them to others, it is difficult, nay, impossible for me to understand how a person can flaunt the authority, doing every possible deed contrary to the rules.
Once I had the privilege to cross swords with one such member of our Society, who had modeled herself on the likes of a female wrestler. On pointing out to her her many transgressions, she snarled and called me a bulldog. Although I did not appreciate the compliment at that time, I realised later that for a Secretary to be termed as one who cares enough for her Society to be called its protector is the highest honour any self-respecting Secretary can get. It gives me reason to hope that such a Secretary can never be termed unfit for the post.
As a Secretary, my duty begins early in the morning when I switch my Society mobile from silent to general in order to entertain calls from my Boss (the Chairman), my Financial advisor (the Treasurer) and the ones we serve namely the 50-odd members of our huge colony. There are endless letters to be penned, printed and posted on a regular basis, for our members do not like paying up their dues in time. All that arm-twisting frankly leaves me exhausted. And if looks could kill, I’d be dead by now!
Then there is the matter of cleanliness, which has been partly taken care of by the Municipal Council, reducing our once-garbage ridden compounds into somewhat safe hygienic areas for parking and promenading. Of course, you do have the occasional member who just won’t get this into his thick skull and so we have our days of dog poop, fish-heads and the like.
Calling our ‘clients’ for the annual meetings and the Board for its monthly ones is, of course, my main duty. We have varying attitudes to these ‘notices’ as they are called. There are some who sign without reading, others who read then sign and yet others who read but do not sign. This gives me an insight as to whom to expect at the meeting when it is held and whom we can safely say will be elsewhere.
The many woes that the maintenance of such a large complex brings about always make me want to hand in that resignation letter that’s been sitting inside my computer for ages. Soakpits and septic tank repairs, waterproofing and painting projects, endless electrical and plumbing problems overwhelm me at times and reduce me to self-pity. Then I bring to mind Atlas with the whole world on his shoulders and I think I am definitely in a better position.
As if that’s not enough to send me to the funny farm, we had two court cases, one with the builder who had swallowed up our funds and another from a bunch of nitwitted members who just couldn’t see beyond their upturned noses to the needs of the Society.
It’s not easy being a Secretary for the simple reason that one becomes a sitting duck for those who hate your guts and are not afraid to say so to your face. It’s humiliating to be made to feel small in public for speaking the truth. When you do your work well, you are bound to invite the ire of those who would rather you just left them alone to continue their dirty deeds in the dark.
But my strength lies in the majority of my members who thank me for my work and show their appreciation by their vote of confidence in my abilities. To them I owe my endless loyalty and my undying support.
And when I sleep at night and the nightmares come, as they surely do, I pray to God for those who love my work and those who hate it and hope, deep down in my heart, that one day “We all may be one”.


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