Monday, July 28, 2008

Money Rules.

This is a story of Arjun Sharma. Aged 30, This man is a loyal son of his parents and is highly devoted to providing them all the happiness in the world.He works as a sales manager for a leading newspaper daily. He performs his jobs with the dedication of the highest order, Due to which the respect he commands in the professional circles is huge.

Arjun's family is by all means a reputed family. They have lived a life of unwavering integrity and though they do not have a whole lot of money to show for it, the peace of mind that they have, is their biggest fixed deposit.He has a younger brother - Nakul, who is aspiring to be a aeronautical engineering expert and wishes to pursue his postgraduate education in the United States. A great dream to have, isn't it. But dreams come at a price. The family wants his dream fulfilled, and no one more than Arjun.

Arjun is doing well in his career, and is saving for his brother's educational journey. All the foundations laid for a cliched -I will work my sweat off, but fulfill all his dreams - kind of a story. Maybe, or maybe not.

On an ordinary sultry day in July, Arjun finished his day at work and returned home tired. He was listening to some music - and knowing Arjun - the music was loud and would burst any living man's eardrum. After almost an hour of high DB entertainment - he started surfing, checking his mails, paying bills.
which is when he noticed something

His bank account showed a credit of Rs 20,000. The strange thing was that he could not explain its source. It just said- Bank of India.
After checking all his accounts and his income/expenditure sheet he maintained, he was stumped. There was no friend who owed him money. He was not into gambling and lottery tickets. Neither had he filled coupons at any lucky draw.

Soon his hunger pangs filled his mind and he assumed his gluttony self.Then while getting to bed, he started banging his head on the money again. Where did that money come from ?. His mind kept going round in circles. Should he use the money? After all he needed it. Very much. Admissions to universities were already giving him sleepless nights, His savings were being completely spent on the home and for his brother.

This looked like a mistake. No one need know about it. This 20 grand windfall would be the best thing to happen to him, He could probably live his own life. He could stop using the calculator to see how much he could spend everyday. He could order a sizzler without seeing how much it would cost. It was already 2am and he needed to be up early. The next 6 hours of sleep were his best in months.

He woke up and sang while in the bathroom, He strained his memory to remember when was the last time he sang loud. AS soon as he got off work, he strode into a mall, without even looking at his favourite 4 letter word anywhere -'Sale'
And bought items which were in his must have list for close to a year.
His smile sparkled more than his brand new denims.

He checked his debit card account to see how much of the windfall was still to be used up. His eyeballs hit the ground when he saw that Rs 50,000 was credited to his account. Again by the Bank of India. This did not look like a mistake.
An occurence like this,more than once is either planned well or really dumb.
He was sure, this was not a gross error where someone was accidentally pumping happiness into his life. This was not an accident!
He looked up all his accounts again, called up friends and colleagues and everyone he knew. He even asked his father if he had helped some relative in the past who is now returning the favor. There was nothing that answered the cause of this new lottery fund.

He then chucked the thoughts and went off to sleep. He didn't sleep as well this night.He was still thinking who transformed his life with one thing he always was short of. Money. The day after work was no different from his new routine.Spend and smile. No price tags. No discounts. Pick off the shelf, straight into the bag.
He even got himself a new Handycam, It was on his list of 'Things to buy-before I die'. He was sure, his lottery experience was over, which is why he had saved some money to be used for his brother's admission formalities.
He casually checked his debit account while munching on an apple after dinner - and!
The dream was not over. This time, his account showed a credit of 1 lakh rupees from the Bank of India. For the first time in 2 days, he was a little concerned, Will this lead him into trouble? Is he correct in spending someone else's money? Would someone find this out. Will he get his peace of mind back?

His father would always tell him - ' I have been a little strict with my living, never borrowed when I did not have, never reached for more than what I could jump, never looked beyond my window to the sky - But I have slept well every day I have lived' Could he say that about himself?

 Now - he had to do something about it. His integrity was in the way of the seemingly endless treasure.
What should he do? Should he go to the police? What answers would he give on why he spend the money if he knew it wasn't his? After a lot of arm wrestling with his morals, he decided to start with the bank and take it from there.

The next day, at the stroke of 10 in the morning, Arjun reached the main branch of the Bank of India. He met the clerk and wished to know the source of the funds. He was told that account numbers and names are normally given out, but in this case - the contact wished to keep this undisclosed.

Wow! Now this was moving somewhere. In spite of the Banking Regulations Act Section 45D that was quoted to him - which mentions the secrecy of the transaction - Arjun was nowhere close to feeling good about things around him. Somehow he could not muster the courage to go to the police, he had always been scared of the police station. He used to read reports of how the police would twist the laws for their convenience and harass people. His sane mind did remind him that these are one-off cases and should be disregarded, but when you have a phobia - you fight everything but your fears.

He had to know who his benefactor was; and the intention behind this windfall. Was it really a windfall for something good he did unknowingly OR was there something sinister in this entire scheme of things?
He looked up his account and the routine was on!. Two Lakhs!  Man!  Would he become a millionaire soon?  He decided to talk to Mr. Adiverkar his senior in his office whose wife was a Reserve Bank Employee. Mr Adiverkar was Arjun's mentor since he finished his education and spotted Arjun's flair for sales and marketing, and guided him into the current role. Arjun could be honest with him and hoped he would get help. Mrs Adiverkar was a little hesitant, Of course she would be - this was not right to do.
But she did agree to source the name and address. She said that this would be the end of things she can handle. Arjun was happy with what he noted down.

Mr. Xavier Erasmus
23rd Perry Cross Lane

Arjun had never believed that his life had any twists or turns and always thought that his, was one of the scripts, God wrote in a bunch. Next rmorning, he got on the Bangalore metro and got down at South End Circle.He was breathing faster than normal and was experiencing goosebumps on a humid August morning.
He reached the residence and found it locked. He looked around for a guard and asked when he could meet the owners. The guard said that this house had been locked for years and that they do not live here anymore.
Damn! Arjun was getting restless, He tried speaking to a few neighbours, and did not get a lot of information, except that they were in Mumbai. Arjun pulled out  some envelopes from the Erasmus lettter box to know more and found a Movers and Packers receipt for moving home stuff to a Mumbai address, 7 years ago.

The trail was getting longer. He could not travel to Mumbai anytime soon due to a company expo. In the next one week, when he was working 16 hour days, he got no more credits. He wondered if the story was over and if there was a need to pursue this further. But there were some loose ends and he wanted to make sure that there are no nasty surprises in the future. Two weeks after he had visited the Erasmus home in Bangalore - he traveled to Mumbai, man on a mission.He found an elderly man in his sixties who did not look surprised to see him. He did not seem to react when Arjun told him of his journey to Mumbai and the questions he needed answers for.

Mr. Xavier Erasmus sat down and offered him a coffee and sipped at his coffee himself. He took Arjun back 15 odd years when he used to study at Bishops Cotton and had a friend Reuben Fernanades. Arjun immediately sat up, remembering his friend Reuben. They used to be good friends and on one eventful day, Reuben got hit by a vehicle and was bleeding profusely. Arjun had run around asking passersby to get Reuben to a hospital, but seeing no response  - he had fought with a rickshaw driver and got Reuben to a hospital. He had informed Rueben's parents and was in the hospital for the next week when Reuben lost his battle for life. Reuben's parents had since passed away too and Mr Erasmus was his uncle.

Mr. Erasmus said that it took him a while to trace Arjun and had wanted to express his gratitude secretly.
And handed over an envelope. Arjun stood up, wiped a tear, thanked Mr. Erasmus and said that he had to leave, but could not accept anything and had to return what he received. Mr Erasmus said that this was gesture to not repay the goodness but acknowledge the support Arjun had been, in the testing times. And that this was something Reuben' parents wanted to do personally. He also said that he knew the importance of the money in Arjun's life and how this would be a way for Reuben to say 'Thank you'. Somehow despite all he said, he still walked away with the envelope in his pocket and a tinge of sadness.

Still lost in the thoughts - he was about to land in Bangalore when he remembered about the envelope and opened it. There was a 10 Lakh, Bank of India cheque addressed to him and a photograph of Reuben and Arjun, back in time. There are times in life when you have mixed feelings - of satisfaction, happiness and sadness. As he began to unfasten his seat belt, he told himself that he would go out of his way to help people around him, better their lives and fill them with happiness. And of course - he would not stop dreaming.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The mind of a married man.

A few years ago, when this serial used to hit the air on television, I d wonder whats in the mind of a married man. Why should this be a prime time serial and why does it command so many advertisements.

After March, this year. some of those questions are being answered on its own.
The mind of a married man is a complete mix of emotions. It is at one point completely focused on the work and on the means of livelihood and it is also completely focused on the partner and her every breath, to ensure that the air around her is pure when she breathes, It is also completely focused on idling and sleeping and not shaving till you are warned of being killed.And at this time, the mind if completely focused on this post.The mind of a married man, as you see has just intensified in its functions, It now processes more instructions per second than a military supercomputer. The mind of a MM (married man) senses a small crease on the partners forehead, and at times, surprisingly misses the most obvious tower of information or instruction. Sometimes the mind appears to think beyond its capacity and in turn falters. Who said geometry and algebra was the most difficult thing in the world to decipher.The mind loves to be taken care of, being pampered, and made to stretch its imaginary feet on an imaginary hammock. At times, this mind does not think hammock, but thinks hammock for every one else, a rock for itself. It loads itself and burdens it to the hilt like the loyal son in the Casablanca poem. And then again, before you begin to script this story with a evil - I know it all - smile ; The mind freefalls into outer space and spaces itself there.

What was all this, Do you think this was difficult to comprehend, Did you think every word was a disjointed lyric in a silly school choir? Wait till you read about the upcoming series.

Its called - The mind of a married woman.