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“You know what, she—that secretary__”
“Clerk.” I cut in.
“Yea, clerk; she is pretty, you know. I mean beautiful. Nice eyebrows, nose and all.” Racer brightened his façade with a smile.
I did not know that my childhood friend Racer could be such a connoisseur of feminine appearance.
“I go to bank only to pay the exam fee. I don’t even take the concept of ‘savings’.” I said.
Racer did not seem to hear what I said. As I was about to rephrase my point, Racer with dreamy eyes and an amorous mood stumbled back upon his topic.
“I was in the bank the other day with a handful of money.” He said.
When Racer says a handful of money, he means his monthly salary; INR 6000; USD 110.66 (as on 6th May 2013); Euros 84.48 (as on 6th May 2013). Racer should sustain himself the whole month with this meager amount. He was a temporary guest faculty at a self financing college. Among the community of Guest Lecturers, his kinds are the least fortunate ones. The government colleges offer a better pay. Those who work in the self-financing colleges are literally squeezed by the management, like galley slaves.
“I ask the guard in the bank, the guy with a gun and a faded khaki uniform, which receipt I should fill, in order to deposit money.” Racer continues. “There are forms aplenty; receipts and bills are many on the counter.” He said.
“Aplenty…hmmm…” I thought.
“There are white ones, red ones and green ones. Sometimes, there are even grey receipts too. Many of these have multiple purposes, it seems. But most of them ask for the same details from you—your account number, amount in Rupees and in words and date.
“The guard, the gate keeper of that whorehouse of money, doesn’t respond. There are other people; people with rich smells, in white shirt and white dhoti, or in sari and with a lot of gold, and with the keys of their vehicles worn on their fingers like wedding ring, extracting some extent of playfulness with it and also those who work inside the cubbyholes. The guard attends only those affluent folks.
“By the time I fill the bill or receipt or whatever you call that pitiful lifeless leaf of paper, which asks the same information over and again…that dumb piece of bureaucratic arrogance, it is about twelve pii em.”
Racer paused for effect.
“So it went well?” I enquired, already bored.
“Went well? Ha!” He scoffed. “There were six or seven counters for transaction.”
“Did you go to Cannanore branch?” I cut in, once again.
“Yes,” Racer said.
“Then six counters.” I stated.
“Ok, six. I don’t remember, exactly. Man, it is hard even to think of the crowd. Neck to neck, you know. Someone stepped over my feet. I got very irritated. I was standing in the tail of one of the lines. I was getting a bit hungry too. Then I saw that the clerk in the counter I was standing at—a young man of about twenty six, in counter 4—was chatting with the female secretary I told you about.”
“Clerk!” I said.
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“Then?” I blurted out, without waiting, eager to end his bluff.
“Then what? I went straight to the beautiful creature,” Racer said with a smile. “I told her to shut up! These bank officers, they are nothing but helpers with our money. The common folk are the authority of the money these clerks sit on and enjoy and eat.” When racer said this I noticed his fist going tight, rising a few feet and reaching his shoulder level. “So I told her to keep her arrogance inside her purse, and not to shove it upon our face. ‘You help us manage our money. You don’t own us,’ I said. And that pretty clerk went pale and red. She was around in her twenties too, you know.” Racer paused again.
“Then what happened?” I said with some interest in his story from the turn the things in the bank took.
“Then? Well, then finally, the guard approached me, but this time with his gun. You see, he is just a security guy and I am a lecturer. But nothing works there in that parlour of arrogance. Don’t trust them; these banks. They are so…so…arrogant! And they threw me out!”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that.”