Demonetization has forced a millionaire, a sweeper, a house wife, software engineer, a house maid, a laborer to stand shoulder to shoulder at the ATMs & banks. I too was part of that queue. It was nothing short of an interesting experience. Complete strangers start chatting up with you, sharing their joys & woes. It doesn’t matter whether you are an IT professional, or a sweeper, or a VP of a company, or a laborer; in that moment, you are simply an Indian who is getting an opportunity to be a part of a national movement against black money.
A cute girl with a Punjabi accent standing behind me spoke, “it’s such a big line! In my native place in Chandigarh there is no such line. Only here there is such a mad rush. Yesterday I stood three hours in the queue. But when my turn came, the ATM ran out of cash! There is not a single penny in my wallet.” I could feel her helplessness of not having cash. I gave her an understanding smile & said, “Let’s hope for the best.”
I was quite at ease when I joined the queue, but her remark about cash running out made me anxiously count the number of people standing before me. I silently prayed to God that such a thing shouldn’t happen to me. The long serpentine queue moved at such a pace that even a tiny snail would outrun us. The queue was too long but we consoled ourselves by looking at the growing line behind us. At least we were way ahead compared to last person in the line.
A group of girls were standing near the ATM waiting for their friends to come out of the ATM. They wore anxious expressions & kept checking their watch. The moment their friends stepped out of the ATM, they yelled, “Hey come fast. The lecture has already begun. Ma’am won’t be pleased if we arrive late! Come on run!” The girls hopped onto their two wheelers & sped away. A smile escaped my lips as I fondly remembered my college days – the reluctance to enter first when late, pushing our friends to go first to face the wrath of the teacher.
Two guys ahead of us were pretty excited when they finally reached the entrance of the ATM. They couldn’t stop themselves from taking a selfie at the ATM door! A lady tried to enter the ATM without coming in queue, the security guard politely refused her entry. The guard stopped all those who cunningly tried to enter the ATM saying they wanted to print their pass books but actually wanted to withdraw money from ATM. He politely took all their pass books, printed & returned them. I didn’t see him lose his temper even once. Handling the crowd from morning till evening is no easy task. But he did his duty with a smile on his face. I felt immense respect for him.
When finally I arrived near the ATM entrance, my heart beat rose considerably. People who came out of the ATM clutching the pink note had huge grin extending from ear to ear. When I entered the ATM, I saw a man struggling with his card. The guard helped him swipe the card, but the machine couldn’t read it. The guard asked him to wait. He allowed the short man in dirty clothes in front of me to try his card. Instead of coming forward he gave his card to the guard asking him to swipe. He swiped for him & asked him to enter the PIN. To everyone’s amusement, the man said that the PIN is written on the backside of the card. It seemed the guy was illiterate. So the guard entered the PIN, entered 2000 as amount & gave the cash & card to the man. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that whoever steals that card with PIN written on it will be the luckiest thief.
The guard allowed the earlier person to try his card but again it didn’t work. I felt bad for him. I couldn’t decide which was worse: ATM running out of cash at your turn or your card deceiving you. The guard gestured me to come forward. I swiped my card, had a mini heart attack when it didn’t read my card too. The guard simply took my card from my hand & swiped it hard. I could breathe again when it read my card. I entered my PIN & amount. It was such a melodious sound to hear the magenta pink note popping out of the machine and such an amazing sight!
I stepped out of the ATM clutching the note with a 100 watts smile plastered on my face. I wanted to show the note to everyone around as if it was some trophy achieved after a hard fought battle. I couldn’t stop taking a selfie with the note & keeping it as my Whatsapp dp. Seeing me showing off my 2000 rupee note, many friends commented how wealthy I am. Truth is, yes, I had become wealthy, wealthy with joys & hope for a bright future which I share with billions of Indians standing at the queues.