Rupa and demonetisation

soch

Rupa hummed the latest chart buster as she stir-fried the bhendi, with one hand, while she rolled out the thin crispy parathas. Beer Singh, her husband, busy on the phone, came into the kitchen, tapped angrily at his watch. Rupa smiled apologetically and handed him his plate of food. She could hear her mother-in-law, invoking all the gods while she screamed at Rupa for her tardiness and her father-in-law demanded another cup of chai.

Nothing could faze Rupa. Not today. When long awaited happiness was in sight.

Tomorrow, her in-laws would leave home to visit her sister-in-law and her husband had appointments all through the day. So she would…

In a flash, she was back to that point where it had all started.

Rupa, true to name, was beauty born between many sisters, into a wealthy family steeped in conservatism. She was also bright with stars in her eyes and big dreams to chase. Her family let her study provided, she learnt all the ‘girlie’ talents. One by one, as her sisters were married off, much against their wishes, Rupa knew what fate awaited her but she hoped against hope. And sure enough, one fine day, as she came back from college, the elders gave her the news of her engagement with Beer Singh. Since the wedding was only a week away, her education was stopped. Wearily, Rupa got busy with the festivities.

On her wedding night, Rupa discovered what a monster her husband was…which continued. She tried complaining around. Her family said, their responsibility was over the moment she got married. It was up to her, to set her marriage straight. Her in-laws fumed, how dare she find fault with their precious son?

Enough ways were found to bring her into submission, to break her spirit. Weary Rupa, trudged along with life. Luckily there were no children and in-laws began hinting at another wedding. Totally broken, TV would be her entertainment, once she was done with her daily chores and the Mother-in-law retired for her siesta.

One fine day, Rupa happened to see, ‘Sleeping with the Enemy.’

A plan began to formulate in her head.

Beer Singh was a property dealer. There was always cash around. Rupa began to whittle away tiny amounts of cash from the sum she received to run the household, hid it in pantyhose, tucked it away under mattress, stashed away in the dark corners of closets. Mooched some cash away from the money given for safe keeping. Did whatever she could. Slowly this money grew into a significant reserve over time. It was her treasure, to be used as and when she decided to bolt, to set up life new in the remote south, where nobody knew her. She had it all planned.

And the D-Day was near. She was about to fly the coop the next day when all were busy.

Rupa finished the rest of the day very cheerfully. She cooked Beer Singh’s favorite food. The wretched bloke deserved one final kind gesture.

Beer Singh came back as usual, sozzled to the gills, demanded the TV be switched on while he ate his dinner. Suddenly, all the news channels started airing the PM’s address to the nation.

As of midnight, tonight, all 500 and 1000 notes will be demonetized. And…

Two people fell down simultaneously to the ground, though for different reasons.

Would Rupa get a chance to fly away? Tomorrow surely knows!

**********************************************

Suddenly all her life was sucked out of her and Rupa became a mere shadow of her former self. She was trapped, forever! 

As is usual, no one in the family had noticed or cared really, busy as they were, with their own share of life altering and shattering cash problems. Beer Singh, her husband and her father-in-law were shocked beyond their wits, while the mother-in-law wailed round the clock. Bundles of notes everywhere but of no apparent value, as most of it was unaccounted for. All sorts of nefarious schemes were being considered and many fixers dropped in all the time, serving up, tens of under-handed dealings, to save the day.

Rupa, after the initial moping period, recovered soon enough. You cannot put a beautiful soul down, for long! She began to absorb and assimilate the information floating around her, sorting and discarding trash. She began to scout around amongst her friends for the most trustworthy, someone whom she could depend with her stashed but now worthless moolah. She obviously couldn’t share everything -(about her plans of flying off from her torture chamber) – with anyone!

Finally, she zeroed in on Sakhi, one of her closest acquaintances after her marriage with Beer Singh. Sakhi was shrewd and smart. Rupa would call Sakhi everyday, making deep inroads into Sakhi’s heart, exchanging daily domestic drivel, asking for advice. Once Rupa was sure that, Sakhi was now much closer to her, she told her mother-in-law, her intentions of visiting the nearby temple daily, to pray for the well being of the family. Mother-in-law waved her away, saying that it was ok, so long as all the jobs were done and she came back in time to attend to the rest. One less bother, to tackle!

Rupa would beg Sakhi to accompany her and Sakhi often indulged. Rupa amused her. Slowly, little by little, Rupa began to divulge her secrets to Sakhi. Sakhi was soon taken up by this adventure and she readily agreed to deposit the whittled cash in her account on the sly and take out the new denominations, over time, given the monetary withdrawal restrictions. Sakhi was amazed that, given the circumstances of Rupa, Rupa had managed to stash away so much. Of course, Rupa never revealed the entire truth though Rupa had no go except to trust Sakhi.

Over days, all the cash was deposited and it was time to rebuild the chest with new denominations.

***********************************************************************

Why is Sakhi avoiding my calls? These days, she always meets me with someone in the room, so that I cannot speak about the money at all. What do I do now? What will she do with that cash? Above 2.5 lac, she needs to show the source! She knows that. Money makes morals fly’ thought Rupa, as she chopped onions. Her eyes were full of tears,- due to onions? or due to her anguish? she couldn’t comprehend.

I’m going to confront Sakhi today, no matter what! I will land up at her house, without any prior intimation and catch her off-guard!’. Rupa rushed through her chores, gave the excuse of a visit to the temple and marched towards Sakhi’s house.

Sakhi, luckily for Rupa, was all alone in her house. And a no-holds barred fight ensued. Sakhi point blank refused to part with the cash, even asking where the proof of deposit was. Rupa slumped into her chair. Sakhi pinned Rupa down, roughly shaking her by the shoulders and screamed, “ Get out of my house! Forget that we were friends ever! What money do you talk of? I dare you to prove it. If you keep coming here and harassing me, I will come over and complain to Bhaiyya. Now, get up and move.”

Softly sobbing Rupa, quietly stepped out, started her Scooty and moved towards home.

One of the narrower lanes, near her home was jam packed with people. Rupa tried to move around the crowd and then she spotted the boy, the reason for the milling crowd. A six year old boy was writhing in pain, foaming at the mouth, while the crowd watched. He had ingested something from the nearby food stalls. Someone had called the ambulance, but these are narrow roads. So…

Rupa called Sakhi, repeatedly but Sakhi didn’t pick up. Rupa quietly picked up the boy. She had to!

It was Sakhi’s son. She tied him to her back with her chunni, while he was throwing up on her, made another neighborhood lad sit behind, holding Sakhi’s son. She sped towards the hospital,  in the next lane, ran with the boy in her arms, created enough ruckus and got him admitted.

As the doctors attended to him, she made the call again to the mother. Sakhi didn’t pick up. She then messaged Sakhi.

*******************************************************

The doctors told Sakhi, that the timely medical attention had saved the boy. Else he had no chance. Sakhi, held Rupa and cried bitterly. Somehow the stench of vomit emanating from Rupa didn’t bother, either.

*******************************************************

Rupa, your friend Sakhi has come!” screamed Rupa’s mother-in-law. Rupa came out of the kitchen, smiled at Sakhi and took her to her room. Sakhi was carrying a big bag under her chunni. She simply put it in Rupa’s hands and bowed with her hands folded.

Rupa opened the zip, looked at the contents  and stuttered, “ This is much more than what I had given you!

Nothing I do, will ever repay your debt!” was all tearful Sakhi had to say.

Rupa smiled broadly and hugged Sakhi tightly

Now Rupa was ready to fly! It was all just a matter of time!

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