The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Speedman rings on time, every time

“Sincere and reliable... affable to public… His sense of duty is awe-inspiring.” Dream words for any employee in any profession. And that’s how Sambhu Roy of Bhowanipore post office has been described in the citation certificate of the Dak Seba award 2003 conferred on him by the department of post during the National Postal Week.

The only speedman (postman who delivers speedpost) to get the award this year smiles modestly when the citation is read out, while his colleagues confirm every word. “I had no inkling that my name had been sent for nomination. That was my superior officer’s doing (postmaster Bandana Bose). So the registered letter from the sector superintendant’s office, asking me to attend the award ceremony at Yogayog Bhavan on October 10, came as a surprise,” says the soft-spoken man, on his way back from another round of delivery.

Speed is the middle name of this postman. He has scored an awesome 98 per cent for articles “delivered to addressee on the same day” (the average, according to postal department sources, is 80 to 85 per cent).

When this is pointed out, the father of an eight-year-old quickly attributes it to the proximity of his Behala residence from his workplace. “Many of us stay in the suburbs and have to travel long hours by train. So they have to keep the train schedule in mind. Since I stay nearby, I can come early and leave late whenever the situation demands.”

And leaving late, for Roy, can mean 8 pm. “The workload was heavy when I was at the Elgin Road post office. My area was AJC Bose Road and Lower Rawdon Street, a mix of business houses and residential complexes.” The extra hours had to be put in when the afternoon mail van would be late or the mail volume was excessive. “I would sort out the office addresses first since they shut early. People used to ask me what a postman was doing, delivering mail well past sundown,” he smiles. “People pay Rs 50 for a speedpost. It must be important to them. It seems wrong to keep them waiting…”

There have been some memorable moments for the mailman. “Once I waded through knee-deep water on Lower Rawdon Street to reach a registered packet. It contained a lady’s passport, and her flight to England was that evening itself. On another occasion, the postman concerned was absent and Asitda, the then postmaster, asked me if I could drop off a packet of what looked like medicines at a Puddapukur address. It was around 8 pm when I located the building. The aged lady said she had run out of those vital imported medicines.”

The happiness and relief on the faces of the recipients are, clearly, his greatest prize.

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