The Passbook

The Passbook

It was a hot summer day. Ghosh Babu reached the bank and took out a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe the sweat on his face. As he entered the bank, he kept his walking stick in one corner. His arthritis had worsened and the doctor had asked him to start using one. “Kemon Acche, Dada?” the guard enquired and Ghosh Babu smiled along with a lift of his hand to indicate all was well. “The stupid doctor gave this to me,” he said.

At seventy, Ghosh Babu was fairly active and self-reliant. He lived alone since the demise of his wife while his son stayed in a separate house nearby.

The small branch was located in the basement of a school and got very few visitors nowadays as most of the customers adopted the online banking facilities. It was mid-month, Ghosh Babu’s regular time for visiting the bank. Ever since he retired from his government job, this had been his routine. His pension arrived by the tenth of every month and he too arrived at the bank within a few days to withdraw some cash and also to get his passbook updated.

He opened his brown jute bag and took out a thin booklet before going to the teller’s window. Mr. Das, the teller, a rotund middle-aged man, looked up from his computer and said

“Dada, did you try logging to the website with the password I provided you last time? Why take so much trouble? Hehe,” he remarked.  

“Old habits die hard, Das babu,” said a self-satisfied Ghosh Babu collecting his cash from him. After counting the notes and keeping them in his wallet, he went to greet other employees of the bank. While leaving, he chatted with the guard and also gave him some money.

When he didn’t visit the bank the next month, Das Babu was the first one to notice. “Maybe he finally heeded my advice and started using the internet,” he thought.

The rainy season had started and Das Babu was drenched when he reached the bank later than usual that day. Inside, he saw a black umbrella leaning against a corner. Since his three years of posting in this bank, he had become too familiar with the classic black umbrella with the wooden handle. He smiled when he saw Ghosh Babu waiting for him with a box of sweets in his hand. He had been blessed with a grandchild and had not been able to visit the bank as his son’s place was a little farther for him to walk. Afterall, he preferred walking than spending on a rickshaw.

As Ghosh Babu distributed sweets to the staff, Das Babu realised that the old man had built a small community of friends at the bank. Everybody was busy congratulating him while he regaled them with the titbits about his newborn grandchild.

“Some habits are certainly worth preserving,” he thought to himself as he ordered piping hot tea for all and joined the celebrations.
Kemon Acche – How are you? (in Bengali)
Dada/Da – Big Brother
Babu – Mister


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