Thursday, July 25, 2024

The Two Thousand Rupee Note..!


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By Robert Clements

A few weeks after the nation was reeling under the shock of demonetization, like a white flag appearing from a trench, after a pitched battle, the two- thousand- rupee note appeared. It was like a truce declared between digital payment and cash. Truce, because though it was legal tender, still two thousand was too huge an amount to be regularly used.

Another reason was that the rich looked at it with suspicion; after all they had been brutally betrayed by it’s fallen sister the thousand rupee note, and all thousanders they had stored carefully and hidden in lockers and stitched into mattresses and secret walls were now useless. They wondered whether this was another decoy to trap their black money again, and were not taken in by its innocent baby pink look.

The poor on the other hand did not know what to do with it, because it was absolutely beyond their means. They knew it existed, had seen flashes of it in banks when they had gone to withdraw their life savings and wondered why a note which they could not use, which meant billions of them, had been printed by the government.

The government on its part was happy they had fulfilled their obligation of filling the vacuum left by their drastic ban on the old thousand and five hundred they had withdrawn.

The shopkeepers were the most confused, as most of the time, they never had change if a customer flashed the pinky, and watched with absolute dismay as their shelves did not empty out as people waved their two thousand rupee notes at them, and they wrung their empty changeless hands.

But with all the confusion created by it’s introduction, the two thousand rupee note reigned supreme. It was not dirtied like other notes because it wasn’t soiled by too many hands, and when it rested in someone’s wallet, it continued to rest there for many weeks, more as a feeling of security to the owner, than money to be spent.

I remember glancing at it’s proud look once and saying, “Maybe like the thousand rupee note you will also go!”

“No,” it had said to me haughtily, “Because I am not needed I will remain! And because you cannot afford to keep me, doesn’t mean you can criticize me!”

Ah well, there was a lot of pride that the note had and yesterday at the bank, as two Two-Thousand-rupee notes stared at me helplessly from the bank’s counter where they had been brought to be exchanged, their eyes bleak and bleary, they screamed, “How could this have happened to us? Yesterday we were the most powerful notes in the country, today we are garbage! Kachra! We remember immediately after demonetization, after the thousand rupee note was withdrawn, suddenly people saw our pink faces and felt that was all was not lost, that cash was back in circulation. The rich grabbed us, and the poor looked longingly at us, but we were kings!”

I looked at the notes on the bank counter and realized how proud they had looked the day I had got both of them from the bank, “Are you a rich man?” one of the Two Thousand- rupee notes had asked me that day disdainfully. “Because I only belong to the rich!” it had said haughtily. “For people like you, our poorer cousins, the hundred rupees and fifty rupees will do!”

“No I am not a rich man!” I had whispered.

“That I can make out,” the note had scoffed, “I can see I am the only note in your wallet! I am used to belonging to rich people who have crores of rupees, all in bundles, generally hidden inside a slit mattress, maybe stored in an air-conditioned loft, or kept in a club locker!” it had said to me with a crispy sniff.

“Whereas your wallet is a bit lonely!” said the other of the Two Thousand’s. “And smelly! Don’t you have a clean wallet to put me in?”

“We are not used to being treated so shabbily!” said the notes together. “What did we do to deserve this treatment?”

“I’m sorry!” I had said that day, “I did not know you were used to such royal treatment, “I would have asked the cashier for hundreds and fifty rupee notes instead!”

“You can still do that!” said both the notes together, and I knew that for many days they had laughed and sneered and even called me Pappu, till fed up with their jeers I had stopped carrying them and left them at home in a cupboard.

Now I looked down at the two notes, as I stood at the counter to exchange them “How could this have happened to us?” they cried together from the wooden top where they lay, “We are rubbish today!”

I looked at the two proud notes, and remembered how they had treated me once, “Maybe you should have learnt to be less proud!” I said quietly to them, as the fifty and hundred rupee notes in my wallet giggled.

“We thought we were the greatest! That there was nothing more desired by anyone but us!”

“Many people think that way!” I said quietly, “not just those who use you but those who created you too, who feel they know everything about how to flush out money, flush in money into your bank accounts, how to govern, how to look down with scorn at those who are not like them, and then one day the very ones they make fun off watch them fall!”

“Who are you speaking off!” cried the two notes.

I didn’t say anything as I watched the decimation of a party in Karnataka, and saw a dimpled cheeked boy who was derided by another, called Pappu by his foes, suddenly like the lowly notes of five hundred, hundred and fifty, showing the two thousand he was the one that mattered.

All this, while the two notes stared dejectedly at one another from the bank counter.

Even the cashier had no time for them..!

The Author conducts an Online Writers Course. For more details send a thumbs-up to him on WhatsApp no: 9892572883.  

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