The other day the sun was shinning brightly. The autumn had just set in. There was festivity around. All of a sudden I realized that it was long ago, last I visited my bank. It was my rest day as I decided to go to the bank to deposit some money. The autumnal sun was spewing heat and considering this I wore a pant and a T Shirt. Usually, I always put on casuals during off duty. I brought out my bike and sped to the bank that was 2.5 kilometers away from my house. In no time, I was in front of the bank premises. There was no room left for parking my vehicle solely for haphazard parking in front of the gate. Anyway, the security guard helped me in parking my vehicle. Thanking him, I entered the bank and looked around for a Deposit Form. Soon my eyes located a form counter and my hand supported my thought. Oh, what happened there was no pen in my shirt pocket. “Shit.” I rued for not bringing a pen. I was helpless and a bit shameful rather angry with my obliviousness or absentmindedness. Soon a part of my mind tried to pacify me and egged me to compromise with the situation. I decided to beg a pen from a fellow customer.
“Excuse me. May I have your pen please for sometime?” I asked one gentleman standing near the form counter. He smilingly handed over his pen to me. I was happy and soon busied myself in filing the necessary details like my name, account number and amount in both figures and numbers. I was halfway down the form when the gentleman came near and said, “Sorry, I will have to leave the bank now.”
Though I was yet to finish filing the details still I handed over his pen. Then I approached another person who just came in to the bank. The person plainly refused, as he was to fill the form. It was justified too.
Oh, it was too much and my patience was about to burst at any moment. I came out of the bank to purchase a pen for instant use. I went straight to a shop and asked the shop owner to give me a pen. The next time I realized that there were no notes of small denominations in my purse and for a mere pen of five or ten rupees a shopkeeper would not like to part with his changes.
“Sorry, I have no change.” Then I entered the bank premises again as it was just not possible to rush back to my house. I saw a lady who seemed to be a bank staff was busy gossiping with a boy possibly her friend. I saw the gentleman had a pen in his pocket and he was not filling any form either. I approached him for his pen for sometime. He smilingly handed over that to me. I then filled up all details in a hurry as I was not ready to beg a pen for the fourth time. Further, there was no guarantee that the person was to sit there for long. After filling the form I turned back to find the pair missing from their chairs. I eyed around the bank but no one matched with the impression that my mind had stored. I then stood in the queue at the same time locating the person in mind. After sometime, I found the person coming towards the counter. I was thanking the person in mind. I handed over his pen that was interestingly still in my hand.
There were two lady teller clerks. They were working amid chatting. The bouts of giggles were extra bonus for customers standing there to forget the pain of standing in a queue. Whether they were thirsty or not, still they were drinking thimbles of water from their colorful water bottles. I thought it was just to wet their throat and not to quench thirst. One was carefully careless and at regular interval she was setting her dupatta (Long scarf.) I saw the other one was checking her vanity bag for nothing as I could not notice her bringing out anything. Then all of a sudden a cell phone rang. It was from the cell of the clerk of the teller at which I was standing. For sometime, a ring tone of a popular Hindi movie pierced and dominated the near serenity of the bank. No doubt, they were working as they were leaving their chairs carrying checks of customers to a proper authority for verification or counter signing.
Customers standing in front of me finished their works and I presented my form along with ten thousand rupees. The clerk just decided to check the notes of higher denominations. Lo the next moment she said, “Look gentleman one of your five hundred notes is fake. You will have to correct your amount entry accordingly.”
It was a blow out of blue for me. “What! Let me see,” I asked stretching my hand to hold the note.
“Look at the notice here,” she said showing a notice to me that read “Fake notes detected at the counter will not be returned to the customers.”
“And what about the value of the note? Who will bear the loss?”
“Obviously, you and who else?” she replied with ruthless simplicity as there was no trace of sympathy. It was professionalism speaking, I thought.
“What did you say, I will bear the loss?”
“Yes you heard it right,” she replied.
“You are not returning the fake note to me nor are you giving me notes of equal value. What absurd are you saying?”
“Look, Mr. you are hampering my smooth working,” the girl said showing her pettishness or sternness.
“Man can forget the death of his father than patrimony,” said Karl Marx rightly. Further it was not a matter of one or two or ten rupee for me. I was losing five hundreds which was a big sum for me. I was not prepared to leave the bank and the counter unless I was handed over the fake note or deposit my sum without any deduction.
“Go to hell. How come you are seizing fake notes and not returning the same value to your customers?” I asked.
“We are instructed by the Reserve Bank of India to do so but we are not instructed to refund money of same value,” a bespectacled gentleman in his forties said.
“For the incapacity of the administration to stop circulation of fake currencies, I am not prepared to bear the loss as a punishment of its inability. It’s a promissory note and I must be refunded notes of equal value,” I argued back.
“Look, Mr. Government has also instructed us to hand over those customers to the police for circulating fake notes.”
“How ridiculous! Instead of doing something substantial it is trying to punish the innocent.”
“So please rectify your form and deposit accordingly,” he said.
“No way. You seem to be showing mercy on me. I will not budge an inch from the counter. People in the unorganized sectors are not even getting a hundred for one day’s work and five hundred is more than that. For your kind information, look at the notes which are serial in numbers and new. I have just withdrawn those from an ATM of another bank. ATM is giving fake note that is okay and when the same note is presented to a bank, the person is branded a culprit. Look, you are just depriving me of my hard earned money.”
“Okay, we will have to call the police as last option,” the bespectacled gentleman who seemed to be the bank manager said.
The police came within 15 minutes or so. They got hold of me like a hardcore terrorist. With arguments and counter arguments, I was taken to the police station. There I was tortured to reveal the name of the kingpin. My friends gathered and arranged for my bail next day. They called the State Human Right cell.
Finally, the case came up in the high court. To my happiness, the high court bought my arguments. There was thunderous clapping in the court. It ordered the government to compensate the loss of money and honor that I lost. It also ordered to do something substantial to check the circulation of fake currencies. Further, it ordered not to harass common men if a fake note was found or detected with them.
“There should be a mechanism to refund the value and adequate security measures should be taken while printing notes so that faking can be avoided or checked,” the court ordered.
We celebrated with our victory. There was smile and smile. The other day I was made a hero as stories ran in every newspaper about the court verdict. People celebrated as there was no fear of losing money as a result of fake currencies.