Sometime in 1980:
I pull five two rupees notes from my bag. I count them twice.
Last week, I have received the scholarship amount. My friends have asked for a party. It is supposed to be a lavish party. We will be having Cream Roll with cup of tea. A cup of tea costs twenty five paisa and Cream Roll costs about twenty paisa each. There would be nine friends with me. I calculate the amount. Five rupees would be sufficient. However I am keeping additional five rupees. I come out of room and my mind starts asking questions. Should I not carry more money with me? If by chance someone wants to eat Idlee or instead of tea wants coffee, I will need more money. I run upstairs. There are only coins. I count five more rupees; lead my friends towards the hotel in the corner. My pocket is heavy with coins and heart happy to be able to treat friends.
All these nine are my good friends. I know that if I need a loan of a rupee or two, one of them would certainly oblige me.
Sometimes in 1990:
I am leaving Mumbai. I have submitted statement of accounts to the office. I have no personal bank account, so there is no question of clearing and closing the account. One of my friends had bought a train ticket for me which will take me out of Mumbai. But I don’t know how I am going to manage my expenditure. I have to certainly start from scratch, but where does that particular spot lie I am not sure.
We are at Dadar station. My train leaves at 8.00 in the night. Many of my friends have come to see me off. The train moves slowly. One of my friends hands me an envelope through the window. The train has gained speed, so I don’t have time to ask what the envelope is for. It must be a farewell letter – I think. I sit quietly – thinking about Mumbai and thinking about clueless future. After an hour or so, I open the envelope; there are grand new four fifty rupee notes and nothing else. I smile. At least, I don’t have to start from a scratch.
I can tell you story after story.
However, I am aware that your story might as well fit into this narration.
Now I carry ATM cum Debit card with me and don’t have to carry cash. But still one never knows whether the ATM would be functional or not. So, I still prefer the old way. I check my wallet; there are few five hundred rupee notes. I don’t know whether amongst strangers if I need help, will there be someone in these strange parts of the country?
I sigh. And I withdraw some more money – just to feel secure and safe!
I won’t say that with lesser money I was happier. But the converse is also not true. I mean, I am not happier because of more money! I was not unhappy because I had no money - for me happiness and money were never really related.
I have realized that many of our happy moments have nothing to do with money. In the midst of happiness, one does forget all such things as money, possessions, relations, success… The moment of happiness is very peculiar and it is not bound by any such material aspects of life.
For that one moment, we all strive to do our best in material life (that is making money) – that is the irony, which amazes me. I am sure it will always amuse me.