‘How was I to know this was a wrong turn?!’

Dinesh said it for the hundredth time. Didn’t he know that it was his wrong decision that had caused the tumult? He was too conceited to admit it.  

 He was stuck in a swamp. He could neither pull himself out nor could he leave it to destiny. 

Did fate play a foul game with him or did he dupe destiny?

His inner voice refuted the blame.

Was he the culprit or the victim?  

A dilemma. 

His instinct shied away from the truth. But deep within he knew the wrong turns had left him directionless. He had gone too far in a direction that had left him in the lurch.

Could he retrace his steps? 

Did life give another chance to those who either lost direction or failed to reach their destination?

Every bend is not a turn, every turn is not an end. 

Roads diverge at some points and merge at another. 

Should he look for the merging road? 

However much he denied it, within his heart he knew the wrong turn of events was his sole responsibility.

Denial mode doesn’t resolve issues.

Dinesh was vexed.


 Money is irresistible and when it comes in bounty, who would want to keep it at arm’s length? The row of incidents at the bank was his own doing. His integrity went for a toss. Ethical sense took a back seat. Money ensnared him.

If only he had resisted the temptation, life would have been hassle-free. 

The paradox was too fragile to manoeuvre.

He was caught between the two worlds like Dr Faustus – the world of vice that made him reject his allegiance with morality and the world of virtue that had kept him tied to the piety of the soul.  He was vacillating between remorse and passivity.

But the bouts of regret did not translate into repentance, it vanished as quickly as they appeared. His sense of propriety played hide and seek with him. 

It was as though he had bartered his soul to the deadly sins and no way he could retrace his steps. 

In a weak moment, hubris vanquished his self-worth.

His strengths faded out, his weaknesses dominated, and the fatal flaw – temptation devoured his sense of rectitude. 

His fall was like that of Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden. 

‘Of man’s first disobedience 

…… whose mortal taste… brought Death into the world, and all our woes…’

They were ‘hurled headlong ….from the ….sky’

‘to bottomless perdition’ 

The axe fell on his character. The fire swallowed him. 

The glory was lost and the empire of goodwill that he had built around himself left him forever.

Such a simple equation and he undervalued it.

It was torture to see the news channels flash his name with tag lines:

‘Misappropriation of bank funds’, ‘fraudulent bank manager’, saviour or devourer’

headlines blasted Dinesh.                                                                                                                                        

Perplexed and exhausted Dinesh shut himself away from the clamour of the city. 

 He reflected on the disquieting incidents that rocked his life. He could gauge the loss and the impact but couldn’t think of a solution. 

His irresoluteness had complicated the issue. 

He fell in his own eyes. His misdeeds had brought shame and disgrace to the family.

He looked deep into himself. 

What he saw saddened him.

The ‘self’ was dominating. 

His stance was myopic, but his ambition was not.

His fiery nature aspired for the stars but his limitations barricaded his flight. 

He wanted to soar high but his vacillating disposition played the spoilsport.

His vision was clear but his approach was ambiguous.

The more he pondered over his idiosyncrasies, the more deplorable he felt.

No wonder he had taken the wrong turn.

And to escape the muddle, he can’t say- How was I to know that it was a wrong turn?

He just can’t escape – his conscience refused to accept that he was guileless. 

Why hadn’t he looked at himself objectively? 

‘Grow up’ – he reprimanded his egoistic self. ‘Take responsibility for the wrong decisions. Own up your blunders.

Free yourself from the guilt.’

It was easier said than done.

He had to break the cocoon he had built around himself.

‘Face it. You have erred. Redeem yourself by accepting the guilt.’

His soul yearned for redemption from guilt.


Dinesh was a private bank employee. He had joined as a clerk much against his will. He was never a banker at heart or mind. It was an accidental selection. He always believed that his recruitment was by chance and not by choice. His interest lay elsewhere, a university job. He was keen on doing higher studies but financial constraints compelled him to write bank exams and as fate would have it, he cleared all rounds of the selection process and ‘landed’ behind the counter, a 9-5, hassle-free, secure job.

His parents’ joy knew no bounds as it was almost like a ‘dream job’ for them, a job that would solve their financial issues and also take their son to higher positions, with dedication and hard work.

 It was a dream come true for parents of the earlier generation. It was an honour to associate with the finance sector. 

For Dinesh, it was heartbreaking to sit and count the cash, write out vouchers and tally the ledgers. Although banks were computerised and all functions were online, and no manual work, the sight of numbers and cash set off dissatisfaction in him. He felt the system had inherent loopholes and the sight of so much money changing hands gave scope for wrong ideas. 

It was pretty natural to get drawn to money, especially when one needs money. By the way, who didn’t need money? So, dedication, honesty, loyalty…all these words were coined only to keep one going in his/ her job. Ethics and values were just high-sounding ideals that didn’t have a base in real-life experiences. Money mattered, and rightly so. Hadn’t he sacrificed his dream of becoming a professor in the university for this sedentary job? And that too for money? Life makes one compromise. He had learnt to accept the realities of life and adapt to the situations and their demands. 

Bitterness had taken the better of him.

Customer service, customer satisfaction, keeping oneself in the good books of the manager, and polite talk, were so crucial for the business of the bank, but for Dinesh, it appeared to be a farce. Life was becoming commercial and a business too. He felt as though he was selling himself. The plastic smile that he pasted on his face while entering the bank premises had to be there in its right place throughout the day to keep the bank customers happy and satisfied. It hurt to stretch his jaws in that curve called smile and keep it fixed till the clock struck 5. 

He waited for the hour. 

Ah! It was to step out and punch that smile off and become his normal self. The original self, showing all Nava rasas without being judged or questioned. 

Though he disliked his work as a banker, his instinct to put in his best efforts to justify the role assigned to him, made him dear to the staff.

Dinesh’s understanding of the bank procedures and functioning embittered him further. His dedication and honesty on one hand and his grouse against the system on the other, pitted against each other causing irreparable damage to his self-worth.

When asked to go campaigning house to house to sell Insurance policies, and ask for deposits, he felt like a street vendor selling his ware. 

What was the marketing team doing? 

When he questioned the Manager, he was snubbed brutally. 

“Gone are the days when the ‘clerks’ handled cash counter or did other ‘odd jobs. Times are changing.  Bank business is not just getting deposits or sanctioning advances/ loans. Banks are now distributors of many financial products. It is increasing the business through new contacts, selling insurance policies and acting as a channel for the Mutual Funds that have a tie-up with banks. The private sector has barged into the finance sector and has a hold over the market. To keep ourselves in the market we need to compete with them and upgrade our services. Unless the Public Sector Banks offer better customer service, no customer will come back to us even for loans.”

“Sir, but why should the staff go begging, I mean, asking for deposits? Isn’t that the job of the marketing team?” Dinesh was in a mood to argue.

“OK. Let’s understand the functions of a bank. We have Front office and Back-end functions. Earlier the banks categorised the functions as clerks, Probationary officers and Managers. The clerk grade had to start from the Dispatch department and slowly go through various channels of clerks post and finally reach Cash Counter, the riskiest seat ever. Accountability and responsibility are at their peak, here. As banks grew in stature computers replaced human resources. Hi-fi names tagged themselves along with the digitisation of banks. Front Office, Back office, Operations, Human Resource Department, Administration and so on. Haven’t we accepted all these functions as a part of our growth? Then why question the new work assigned to you?”

Dinesh was nonplussed.


He sailed through the difficult phases of banking – from learning to being punctual to punctilious, disciplined to dedicated to donning the new avatar of a bank manager with the same set of thoughts as the ones who had taught him when he was a clerk. 

Promotions from clerk to officer and then to the manager were almost a cakewalk for him. As monetary benefits flowed in, he stopped complaining. When new recruiters asked him the same questions, he chided them. 

 Change brings change. It was true with Dinesh.


“Dinesh Sir, I have a favour to ask you,” the local MLA’s voice was anything but pleading. 

“Yes, sir. Just order me. I am at your service.” 

Was it the same Dinesh who would pick a quarrel with his manager once upon a time, long, long ago?

He was subdued, almost servile. He had to show business otherwise he would be either transferred or demoted. He couldn’t afford to lose his position or image.

“It is between you and me. Let not a third person know it. And remember you too will be benefited.”

“Sir, anything for you.” He was all ears at the mention of ‘benefit.’ 

 For the next half an hour the discussion behind the closed doors was, on one hand, exciting but on the other bone-chilling too. Was it worth the risk? The monetary benefit was luring but if it was busted, he would be behind bars. What would happen to the bank? The customers who trusted him? 

Should he discuss it with his wife or close associates? But he also knew the power and the reach of the MLA. He had his henchmen always behind him. They could easily lay their hands on his family and also book a false case against him if he didn’t agree to do the MLA the favour.

The good hid in the closet and the bad showed up itself in pomp and show. 

Corruption was ingrained in the system, so what if he partook in it? 

Greed and fear of consequences, both played their roles effectively. 

But money vanquished fear.


The stage was set. The local MLA opened a new bank account and deposited one crore. Dinesh was asked to communicate to the regional office about the huge deposit from a new customer. The word spread like wildfire. The bank needed to come into the public eye. 

The very next week an old account holder withdrew his deposit and closed his account.  It was all in the plan. The old account holder was an accomplice in the fraud that was to happen. He happened to be the MLA’s close associate. He was a high-value customer and this too was a hot topic in the public.  

After a week the MLA approached the bank with a proposal that one of his family members wanted a locker and that since he already has an account the new customer need not be asked to open an account. The manager, Dinesh, at the outset argued with the customer saying that the bank rules didn’t agree with such operations. 

Dinesh had planned his next move.

“Sir, please come to my cabin. Let me see what I can do to help you.”

“Mr Dinesh, I trust you with my money and have faith in the banking system. I know the rules but in good faith, you can do this favour to me. My account here proves that I trust you and this branch. Why would anyone come so far to open an account unless they know the branch or it is near to their house? Don’t disappoint me, sir.”

Dinesh pretended as though he was weighing the pros and cons of the proposal.

“Ok, sir. It is a risk I am taking, hope I don’t get into any issues because of violating the rules.”

He filled in the application, completed the formalities and handed over the locker key. 

“Sir, one key is with the bank and whenever you want to operate, both the keys have to be used. All the best and welcome to our branch.”

The next day the new client approached Dinesh with gold and silver articles worth 50 lakhs and deposited them in the locker. While leaving he thanked Dinesh for his help. The client’s key was left in Dinesh’s cabin purposely. That evening after all the employees left, the MLA met Dinesh. Both of them successfully smuggled out the gold and silver from the locker. The strong room was opened and along with the one crore that he had deposited, another huge amount was safely tucked into the briefcase. 

“Sir, my percentage?” 

The MLA gave a cunning smile and said, “What for? The plan is mine, execution is also mine. I wanted my black money and assets to be back in my safe custody and you were only a channel. You can’t even raise an alarm as you are an accomplice in the crime. Tomorrow when the bank opens you will have to face the ire of the depositors and believe me, I too will be one among them raising slogans against you and the branch. Your old account holder is going to testify against you that he withdrew his deposits and closed the account because he did not trust you anymore. So much for your support. Now you know what money can do or undo. Your greed is my trump card.”

Dinesh slumped onto the floor. 

How could he make a such blunder?

So much for his business acumen!


 He stood at the crossroads and looked far into the unknown. The road till there was a smooth one with greenery around, but now the road ahead was like a crisscross. A meeting point for many roads that would lead to different destinations. Strangely none of the roads had any sign board. Did it mean that everyone had to tread on a path that could take them anywhere? Destination unknown! Or was it destiny calling to make a decision and own the responsibility for its consequences?  

He knew he was trying to escape from the reality. He was running away from the truth. He had no alternative. He had let down all those who trusted him. A wrong decision that had cost him relationships, reputation and credibility. 

Dinesh wanted to cry out loud, scream and confess that whatever he did was unintentional. He had never harboured such devious intentions. He was not vile. Each cell of his body groaned in pain. Not guilty, he wanted to plead. But to who was he going to make a clean breast of his spotless soul?

Would anyone even give him a chance to open up and explain? He was asking for the impossible. 

He felt stifled. 

The one question that troubled him was – why couldn’t he assess the situation and take corrective measures to save and resolve it? Was he so pig-headed that he did not foresee the consequences? Was he so sure of himself that he overlooked the potholes? 


It was a hard-hitting revelation for Dinesh. He shuddered at the thought of facing the wrath of those who felt cheated and robbed of their assets. It was never his intention to keep them in the dark about the situation. But he wasn’t transparent either. 

That’s proof of his deception. Whether knowingly or unwillingly he had let things happen adversely and never tried to resolve them in the initial stages. He was responsible for their predicament and there was no escape from that fact.

How was he going to face them? 

He had broken their trust. It was not just the savings of their lifetime that went down the drain but also their faith.

They were ready to pounce on him. He deserved their wrath. Undeniable.

He pulled himself up and took the first step toward correcting himself.

He knew it was a herculean task and each step was breaking himself.

But that was important to build a new self.

His conscience was clear now. 
Author’s note:
‘Of man’s first disobedience 
…… whose mortal taste… brought Death into the world, and all our woes…’
They were ‘hurled headlong ….from the ….sky’
‘to bottomless perdition’ 
Lines from Paradise Lost by John Milton
Mentioned Dr Faustus by Christopher Marlow
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