December 5, 2009 by Preeks
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I am tired today. Very tired.
It was a long day, you see.
It was the ungodly hour of 05:00 am, when we were roughly woken from our sleep by the Master’s activity. As he got ready, I sat waiting patiently with bated breath. Is my lucky day finally here? First the Hair, then the face cream, the Cologne, then the tie, followed by the blazer, the watch and finally, it was the wallet.
He opened the wallet, took a look inside and muttered under his breath, “Hell! I have to stop going to the club when I am drunk! The money JUST disappears!”
Quietly, he reached inside the almirah and reached out for the stacks arranged neatly in the locker. When the Master’s hand touched my bundle, I felt a thrill of excitement run through my body.
Oh Diary, how can I explain to you the sorrows of being a Rs 10 note, in a multimillionaire’s bank? It’s a redundant life, we have no place, we lie unused in the shelf, and yet, we are a part of that count which makes him what he is! So you can imagine my excitement when he chose me to keep in his wallet. I brushed myself clean and waited as he carefully arranged my position in the wallet. The Master is one of those people who are very particular about the order of the notes in his wallet. Thank God for that, it makes us feel special..:) The seniors (1000s and 100s) were placed in the last slot, neatly. Then came the 50s. Finally it was our turn. Since I was the newest (read youngest), I was kept at the back, while the filthy, used and torn ones were arranged in front of me. I felt so proud, I could hear my mother’s parting words when I had left her in the bank, “Son, you are the pride of our family. Though you are just Rs 10, you have your grandfather, Rs1000’s aura around you. Do us proud, son!” I brushed away a tear and made myself comfortable in my place.
The Master kissed his wife a goodbye and left the house in a hurry. He got into the back seat of the car and ordered his driver to drive him to the office. As he made himself comfortable, we got sufficiently crushed. I tried my best to keep my newness intact, but it was difficult! Suddenly, I heard a soft cry. It was the note in front of me. I turned to look at her.
Dear Diary, do you believe in love at first sight? I do! She was the prettiest thing I had ever set my eyes on. The face on the body was glowing; the ribbon sliding on her was sensuous, the pain on her face was touching. My heart skipped a beat!
She had a staple in her and it was getting squished under the Master’s weight. Oh dear Lord, she needed help. I immediately pushed myself upwards and landed my weight on the edge of the staple, sufficiently reducing her pain. Just as she blushed and smiled slightly, I felt a warm feeling in my body. I wanted to touch her, hug her and tell her that she was safe with me. But then, as fate would have it, the car jerked and came to a stop. I heard some voices outside.
It seems the Master’s car had nearly run into a homeless child sleeping on the street. I heard voices that said, “Sir, you could have killed the child. Thank God she is safe. At least give her some money!” The Master’s hand reached for us. I thought I was safe. How could a life cost Rs 10? But Diary, did you know that’s exactly the price of life, when seen from a multimillionaire’s eyes? In his hurry to get out of the situation, he put his hand in and pulled me out of my comfortable hug with my sweetheart! She cried, refused to let go of me, I held on to that staple for dear life. But as I was pulled away, the staple started tearing my Love’s body. I had to let go. For her.
I was roughly thrown into a pair of dirty palms, lined with grease. I could see the scenes of my life fly past me, my mother’s proud face, the walk of pride out of the ATM, the celebration when I was signed by the Governor of RBI, this morning’s elation. All that to end up here?
I stifled my tears and waved a quite goodbye to The Master, cursing him under my breath. I was still trying to come to terms with my fate, when all of a sudden, my new master, lifted me up, peered at me, and suddenly touched me to her cheeks and gave me a kiss! What?
Chah..What’s happening here? I was confused. She smiled and carefully pocketed me in a small pouch hanging by the belt in her frock. Then she frolicked and jumped and happily ran off to announce to her friends that she had just earned TEN WHOLE RUPEES. My little mistress and I became the object of envy to a bunch of rag pickers, as they all poked me, lifted me, peered at me and even tried to run away with me. I could feel parts of my broken pride come back to me. Maybe it wasn’t that bad after all! But I started feeling old already, what with all the activity since morning.
At around noon, my mistress started feeling hungry. She went to a little Thela, and mustered all her courage to order a cup of tea and biscuits. After she had the meal to her heart’s content, very unwillingly, she handed me over to the man behind the desk. I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye, before I was thrown into a locker with at least a dozen other notes, and to my horror, COINS!
Diary, I have to tell you this. Coins are considered bad in our society. You see, they are the ones who never get old! That’s just mysterious and satanic in our terms.
I decided to maintain my distance from them. All through the afternoon, there was brisk business at this master’s shop. People came, ate, paid, and got change. And all through, we (the money in the locker) were playing a game. When the master’s hand would dish into the locker, we would start running around to avoid going out. The slowest one would have to leave. It was a lot of fun, but slowly, I started getting tired. There was a scar on my back, a tear in my corner. I could almost feel my mother’s reproaching eyes on me, but this game was addictive. It was finally my turn, but when I was handed over, the customer politely gave me back and said, “Yeh note toh nahi chalega, Bhaiya. Itna kharab ho gaya hai! ”
I was shocked! Was I in that bad a shape? Oh, I shouldn’t have played so much. My master tried convincing him, but to no avail.
Oh Diary, I was so disappointed. I was thrown back into the locker where I sat quietly with a bunch of coins, which were too heavy to run around. This was the saddest day of my life.
As the day came to an end, I heard some whispers, as my master squinted into the locker and picked up the most soiled ones from amongst us. He carefully put a rubber band to hold us and pocketed us. He started walking off to some place. But I was too tired to keep track. I fell asleep. When I woke up, I found myself here. At the feet of Lord Ram in the temple. I was donated in return for blessings!
Maybe this is where my life ends.
Sweet Diary! My Lovely Diary!
I am tired today, but I am happy. I lived, I loved, I played, I longed, I cried, I saved a life. My life began today and came to a happy end today, and it was All In a Day’s Work!
A Meagre Rs 10 Note