People and stories that dont matter.
From the currency chest posting in Karnataka-
Anithamma is a devout Catholic and her broken hindi-english was my lifeboat during my very first posting. Her daughter had wanted to marry a Muslim boy and things had snowballed into driving her girl to suicide. I dont know if she was sorry or sad or angry or guilty. She was always ready to giggle at my futile attempts at decoding customers’ Kannada. I blame her for having me addicted to filter coffee. There was a church just near the bank, but it was Protestant. Hence, she would never attend the Sunday Mass or pay attention to the bells. She didn’t think I understood the difference. She colluded with Parvathamma to get some Jasmine in my hair. She wasn’t good friends with Manjulamma.
Manjulamma had an abusive husband. She is a devout Hindu who believed that I was a Muslim. She wouldn’t bring me any coffee or tea unless I was clutching my head. During Gauri-Vinayaka habba she had needed some money. I was warned by few, that if I loaned I would never get it back. I didn’t think I needed a warning or the truth of why she needed 3500/- . Since she and I didn’t know any common language, we used sounds and sign language like monkeys. This was very amusing to Naveena.
Naveena was 22. I was 24. He used to have chocolate and chakkinalu for breakfast everyday. He taught me the Kannada word for “rain” accidentally. He also introduced me to bonda-soup. Naveena was active but couldn’t get the accountant to pass any of my queues. Chandu disliked our camaraderie who would never take more than 3 minutes to get a queue authorized or rejected, but never pending.
Chandu knew good English. He was 12th passed. He was permanently seated in the Government Section and resembled an archetypal babu from R.K. Narayan’s books. He seldom smiled. His exasperated sighs on my ineptness and naivete didn’t go unexpressed. I had needed to go to Dharwad to see my old primary school teacher, twice. He saw me fidgeting with KSRTC website and lost his patience. Taking money from me, he hopped onto his cycle, went to the bus stop and bought me my ticket. He pocketed the change without a blink. He still didn’t smile.
These are people who I probably would never meet again. I couldn’t , when I was posted to three other places within the same district. They will forever remain in the background of other important stories that matter. Stories about people who matter. Unlessm one of their children breaks through the vertical mobility, and gathers an audience for stories that matter, to be used as exceptions in patronizing generality.