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CHEQUE MATE by Kevin Baldeosingh – Trinidad

About the author:

Kevin Baldeosingh was born in1963 in the Caribbean Island of Trinidad. He is a newspaper columnist, author, and Humanist involved in many controversial social issues. He has worked with the Trinidad Express, Newsday and the Trinidad Guardian. He worked for 25 years in the field of journalism.

Episodes /sub-episodes

  1. At the bank, with the teller.
  2. Back to her apartment.
  3. At the company office, with Randall.

SYNOPSIS

Cheque Mate is a story about Sukiya (Ms Chansing), a poor damsel from Penal, the Caribbean island of Trinidad, and her boss, Randall A Credo, of the Amerindian tribe. She is on the platinum credit cards queue and intends to deposit thirty million dollars (five million U.S. dollars), but there is a mistake that throws her into panic and dilemma.

Sukiya is an executive corporate secretary recently promoted, and her salary raised tenfold. Fifty thousand dollars go into her savings account each month-end, but the money does not show her actual income. She avoids the bank manager, for she has accumulated more and more, and her deposits are pretty frequent and high. Mr Randall makes these five million cheque payments for fear of cleaning by offshore accounts hacker’s syndicate. The teller advises her to open a U.S. savings account and return the following day.

As she drives her posh car back to her apartment, she is Obsessed with the five million dollars but pleased and relieved that she has successfully handled an awkward situation. She has to check her private records before seeing her boss, Randall. She weighs all possibilities of legal investigations, discovery and embarrassment but finally convinces and assures herself there is no cause for worry. She romanticizes what she could do with such vast sums of money, especially her residential abode. Randall has her as a corporate secretary who draws up contracts, studies conveyances and writes legal opinions. However, her critical role, for which she is handsomely paid, is to create loopholes in such documents, including the sale of the methanol company to the Chinese government. Randall is also a major campaign contributor. Thriving in such an environment, the poor girl suddenly turned prosperous, is delighted that she has accumulated a lot.

After confirming that the sums and dates on the cheques are correct, she goes to see Randall for an explanation. Then the truth about the trick unfolds: the money is a fee for keeping her mouth shut on the Chinese methanol deal which Sukiya undervalues the shares by 50 percent. At a time when technology can be used to conceal fraudulent secrets in cryptographical codes, it now dawns on Randall that it can also be used to reveal them. It is a fraud Sukiya has to deal with herself or together with her cheque mate, Randall, thanks to her cyberspace technology skills.

CHEQUE MATE-A Study Guide To A Silent Song And Other Stories

Title of the story

  1. How relevant is the title of the story, Cheque Mate
  2. Who are the cheque mates in the story?
  3. Why are cheques preferred as their payment modes?
  4. How do the cheque mates exploit contracts’ complexity and detailed nature to commit fraud?
  5. Explore and analyze the existence of the following themes:
    1. Corruption / Fraud/ bribery
    1. Deceit and Betrayal
    1. Loyalty cheques

Thematic Concerns

Corruption / Fraud/ bribery

The banks and government will surely unravel and nab the cartel’s underhand deals in cryptocurrency camouflaged in the cheque deposits and contracts. (p108).

The first eyebrows are raised when the bank teller repeats the question, “Ms Chansing,? Do you want the ‘thirty million dollars’ deposited in your savings account or would you prefer to open a U.S. dollar account?” (p98).

The official deductible salary standard for top executives does not show in her actual income through platinum credit cards.

Sukiya has accumulated over ten thousand dollars, an amount she deposits five times every month. (p99). She avoids encounters with bank managers for a bank manager might wonder how a fifty-thousand-a-month salary becomes seven million dollars in savings within six years. He would know enough to make some educated guesses. (p99).

The bank teller reminds Ms Chansing that the cheque is for five million dollars, U.S.

equivalent to 30,242,000 Trinidad and Tobago dollars. (p99).

She is responsible for moving vast sums through various channels when the oil and gas boom starts and money flows into the company. Sukiya will need to provide the source of funds, of course. (p101).

Randall had watched too many movies where unrealistically cunning criminals cleaned out businessmen’s offshore accounts by hacking into them. (p100).

Ironically, when Sukiya, a lawyer, is hired as a corporate secretary to detect and close financial loopholes in documents, she gets paid the largest cheques for creating such loopholes. (p103).

The five million cheques she gets she assumes is her fee for having drawn up for the sale of the methanol plant by Randall. It could be a surprise bonus. But now, according to Randall, it is her fee for keeping her mouth shut during that deal. (p101 — 107).

Then the truth about the trick unfolds: the money is a fee for keeping her mouth shut on the Chinese methanol deal which Sukiya undervalues the shares by 50 percent. (p107, 109).

  • It is a deal that the Chinese considered protocol even with the bribe. (p103).
  • It is clear that the frauds committed, both inadvertent and deliberate, are rewarding, but eventually, the perpetrators will have to pay dearly.

She is almost at the point of betraying herself, insinuating in her mind her readiness to offer herself unto Randall, for he is a man. Sukiya wants every advantage if the meeting turns into a negotiation. (p105).

Deceit and betrayal

Eventually, Ms comes to terms with the reality that all this time she has worked for the company under Mr Randall A Credo was a disguised syndicate for which she will face the force of the law.

CHEQUE MATE-A Study Guide To A Silent Song And Other Stories

When investigations are done, she will have to defend herself as to how she has accumulated all this wealth over a very short period since she started working as a poor young girl from Penal. Now she swims in opulence, affluence and prosperously apparently does not need money as millions of dollars accumulate in a desk drawer. (p104 – 105).

When she examines the cheques, the sums and dates are all right, signed by Randall and countersigned by herself. (p105).

She could put various clauses into contracts to achieve certain ends or prevent the other party from attaining certain ends. (p106).

However, she has been duped and used as a conduit for Randall’s fraudulent deals.

Ihrough the valuation report, Sukiya signs the document without reading it properly

or because Randall tells her to do so. Further, Randall himself forges his signature using Sukiya’s pen. This form of deceit and betrayal sharply undercuts her. (p107 — 108).

Margaret, Randall’s executive assistant, is paid more than most managers in the company’s subsidiaries. She knows more about Randall’s dealings than anyone else in the company, including Sukiya. (p106).

Loyalty cheques

It seems everything throughout the story is conducted in terms of cheques. Asked about the cheques’ amounts, the figure runs automatically through her head. (p101).

Sukiya has to fly from Trinidad to Grand Cayman to deposit cheques to her account every two months. (p 104). She keeps both her Us and T. T. cheques in the same drawer, which is how the mix-up occurs. (p105).

CHARACTERS

Citing evidence from the text, describe the character traits of the following characters.

  1. Sukiya
  2. Randall

STYLE AND LANGUAGE USE

l. How is sarcasm employed in Cheque Mate?

  • How symbolic is the title, and how does the duo execute their corrupt syndicate?
  • How is dialogue used to achieve revelation of the rotten ills of the cheque mates?
  • Why should corruption be made unattractive to perpetrators?

An Artist of the Floating World Essay Questions