“Cash can't buy happiness. But neither can cashless-ness.” Still cash, for most of us Indians, probably is as essential a ‘wear’ as clothes.
“On leaving home if I don’t have any money in my pocket, I feel like walking naked.” This used to be an oft repeated comment of a friend of mine, belonging to the ‘bania’ business community.
No wonder the current Modi-made cash crunch has not only unclothed a majority of us, it has also been giving bodily bruises.
I know not of the political or economic reasons that lead to the demonetisation of currency notes of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 denominations and hence the cash-crunchy situation.
But I do know of our emotional affection for cash. The past routine rush of most of the retirees, queuing up at the cash counters of banks and post-offices, to withdraw their pensions on the very first day of its release every month, sufficiently vindicates my above stated assertion.
Why this much hurry, when you don’t have to spend the whole amount on the very first day, I once asked a retired colleague? “A bird in hand is better than two in the bush, or say bank,” he retorted merrily!
I being a student of art was told how creativity suffers: “art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.” No wonder the allurement of flowing cash, an overpowering necessity, has flown my own creative instincts sooner than later.
Still, no regrets. For, I being a born spendthrift never could develop a permanent bonding with money. ‘ Is haath ley, us haath dey’ has been my way of living life!
In fact I have inherited this habit from my father. He too used to be always broke like me, yet lived a happy go lucky life.
Once he told me the following interesting incident that dates back to the pre-partition days. It revealed the basic nature of us Indians to hold, or say hoard, as much cash as possible.
One day an irate Indian clerk in a ‘sarkari’ office lodged a complaint to his ‘gora-sahib’. Why he was being discriminated, he sought to know, by being paid lesser pay than the ‘gora’ clerk, who was doing the same amount of work as he does.
Sahib tried to explain him that the ‘goras’ require more money for their daily living than their Indian counterparts. Obviously, the Indian clerk was not convinced.
In order to illustrate his point the boss called the gora clerk to his room also. The British boss took two currency notes of Rs two each from his pocket and handed one to each of them.
“Take the money as a reward for doing good job in the past and enjoy the rest of your working day as a holiday. And both of you report to me the next morning so that I am able to decide the issue of disparity in your pay packets”, he ordained.
Next morning, as was desired by the boss, both presented themselves before the boss.
“What did you do with your two rupee note that I gave it to you yesterday?” he asked the Indian clerk first. The Indian immediately took out his wallet from his pocket and showing the note to his boss said, “Look sir, I have kept the reward money in my safe custody”.
Next was the British clerk’s turn. “Where is your note?” the boss asked him.
“I don’t have the note with me sir. I have spent it,”
“You spent the whole money in a few hours? On what?” a baffled Indian butted in.
“Yesterday while leaving the office for my residence, I hired a ‘saalam’ (chartered) ‘tonga’, instead of walking down as a routine. And on my way I bought a bottle of whiskey and a roasted chicken, which I fully enjoyed in the evening. In fact I have spent on all this, apart from the reward money, a couple of ‘aanas’ from my pocket also”.
After that the Indian ‘babu’, though still unconvinced, never raised the issue of a raise in his pay to bring in parity!
(The writer is former principal, govt. college, Chandigarh. He is an Artist/Art-writer. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)(Published on 12nd December 2016, Volume XXVIII, Issue 50)#