You know that stock verification is an annual routine in government departments like PWD where lot of materials are purchased and used for the development and other activities. Engineering colleges are no exception to that since there are many labs where machineries and their parts are used and if it is a lab, may be certain lab appliances including chemicals will be used.
We used to undertake stock verification every year in our Engineering college and check the various items of consumables and nonconsumables.
During the internal stock verification, our department staff will go to the other departments for verification and vice versa.
Once every four years or so, the AG's office will send its audit party for this purpose. This was more or less an established practice going on for years.
When our department stock was verified under nonconsumables (NC- items such as machines, their parts and other accessories which once purchased will be used for a verl long time unlike chemicals which are termed as consumables)by the external staff, we found an item marked 'stone'.
Everybody was wondering what it could be and why a stone of no specifications should find an entry in the NC register! Is that stone of any archeological importance? If so, why should it find a place in our department stock register? Nobody could clarify that point .
When we asked our storekeeper said it was there in the register for a long time and immediately brought a stone weighing about 5kg from the stores which he had religiously preserved over years and said that this was what he was showing to all the verifying parties which came there for stock verification including those from AG's office and this practice was going on for several years without any hitch or hindrance.
We were at our wits end to know why and how a stone found a place in the register meant for NC items which included only lab and field equipment, machineries and so on. This was really bothering me a lot, but the verification staff took it lightly and left it at that without questioning or doubting.
After the stock verification for the year was over, I became curious and wanted to unravel the mystery about the stone. Our storekeeper who was in charge and who had been there even before most of us joined the department, swore by what was entered in the NC register and I asked him that I wanted to see the previous register from which this was copied.
After a search for it over a few months, he located the old register from which this item was copied. When we went through it carefully, I found that the item was not ‘stone’ but ‘stove’ that we use in our labs then and because of the illegible manner it was written, probably the person who copied it had written it as 'STONE' instead of 'STOVE'.
Many years have rolled by with the stone gathering no mass (with no one raising any doubt about it) and when I said that it could be corrected, that idea was promptly rejected on grounds that there was no stove there in the department and when all the verification parties had accepted what was entered in the register, why create a new problem now unnecessarily!
Till I retired, it remained as stone and my 'saba vimochanam' (deliverance from curse) to convert stone into a stove as Rama did to Ahalya, did not fructify and I believe that it still continues to remain a stone without any salvation even after twenty eight years of my retirement.