I was jolting in a bus; so were my thoughts.
‘This government has lost its mind. Demonetization is another issue. But introducing two thousand rupees notes…!’
‘Does the government care about those whose daily transactions are limited to two-digit figure?’
‘Wouldn’t it be easier to hoard black money now? Indeed, the governments are increasingly becoming of the brokers, for the brokers, and by the brokers.’
It was well past lunchtime. I was starving. I had started my Sunday morning with a good appetite. I was hoping to savour idli at the South Indian Hotel. Alas! I could find a single two thousand rupees note at my disposal. I rummaged drawers and pen stands but could only manage coins of seven rupees worth. I knew no restaurant would give change for two thousand rupees for a fifteen rupees idli plate. I was also too new to the area to eat anywhere on credit.
I went to the nearest ATM to get hold of a few hundred rupees notes, even if that would lower my bank balance below the prescribed minimum. I scanned through ten or twelve ATMs. All had either gone cash-less or were spewing only two thousand rupees notes.
By then, I had walked several kilometers under a scorching sun. I suddenly remembered that I had rice flakes with me which, mixed with plain water, could comfortably cover this emergency.
I hopped into a town bus. I tried my luck one last time and asked the conductor,
“Do you have change for two thousand rupees?”
Before collecting coins from me, he grumbled, “Nah; on Sundays, business is too little for that big note.”
The bus was mostly empty as it neared my stop. As I stood up to get down, I saw a two thousand rupees note lying on the alley. I searched my pockets for my note. It was not there.
‘It must have slipped down when I took my kerchief out.’
Marveling my luck, I picked the note and pushed it deep into my pocket.
As soon as I walked towards home, a boy who was chasing the bus frantically stopped seeing me. After catching his breath, he asked,
“Sir, by any chance, did you see a two thousand rupees note in the bus?”
He was my co-passenger on my adjacent seat and had alighted a stop before me. He was sprinting behind the bus to recover his lost note.
I was at crossroads, both literally and figuratively. Out of sympathy, if I were to give the note to him, how I would sustain myself for the month! I consoled the boy and left.
Back home as I sat down on the floor with food, I noticed my two thousand rupees note lying under my cot.
Leaving food untouched, I stormed out of my room. I tried to locate the boy. He was nowhere to be seen.
These days whenever I go out, I carry the note in my pocket and look for the boy at every crossroad.
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