The Mess

Published: Oct 20, 2019, 07:00 IST | Rahul da Cunha |

She could sense his, sheepish shuffling, and a clearing of the throat, a nervous idiosyncrasy she'd noticed about her fiance

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Rahul da Cunha

It had affected many people in the building, some very badly. She couldn't believe that an institution of such comfort to so many, could have overnight become a fortress of such cold indifference to those same people.

Sushil Kumar, 'Jhaadiya' to his buddies (because of his thin wiry frame), a 3rd floor resident, just hadn't woken up this morning. It had been an incredibly bad run of luck for Jhaadiya—two years ago, DeMo had hurt jewellers—that was the first nail in his coffin. Jhaadiya got even thinner with the stress. But this one, and the restrictions on withdrawals was the final nail. Vendors and suppliers were circling like vultures.

The second 'building heart attack', Carvalho uncle, from the sixth floor, was a tad luckier. He was on his way to the branch, hoping he could get them to unfreeze some money, he'd collapsed in the queue of protesters outside.

She and Ishant had fixed this Diwali as their wedding day—he'd joked that they'd name their first born Diya. But today, she was reflecting on a Whatsapp message he'd sent her a couple of days ago—"Hey. Think we need to postpone wedding. Chat later."

For years, her Dad had insisted on keeping his money in the bank. All her Meryl Lynching advice, "Spread out your wealth, papa" had fallen on deaf ears. It would not prevent him from that good old fashioned rationale—"Beta, our whole khandan has followed one principle, keep your money in a co-operative bank, they co-operate best with us common people…," he would laugh.

In spite of Ishant being fairly mod in his outlook, "keep your surname if you want" kind of thing, it did surprise her that he was quite traditional in his, "in our family, the girl's side pays for the shaadi" with a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders. It surprised her even more that her dad had agreed, "In our community, the father pays for the daughter's wedding," he'd said.

But today, her dad was jammed. All his life's savings, gone, even if it was temporary, his own money was unavailable to him. To pay advances for the venue, to buy the booze, flowers, all the paraphernalia, "To give my Bulbul the best wedding a father could give."

But what she never predicted was to follow, when she called Ishant.

"What's up?", she asked him, "why do we need to postpone the wedding?"

She could sense his, sheepish shuffling, and a clearing of the throat, a nervous idiosyncrasy she'd noticed about her fiance.

"Uhm, Pooja, your Dad uhm… look I tried to explain to my folks… but your Dad has no money, ya, to pay for the uhm… Look this bank mess won't last long… you've been in finance, you know how these things work… it'll settle down… we can then uhm, re-schedule…. but for now… shall we just postpone… You know what I mean, na?" He trailed off, she hung up.

She watched her father, on his phone, calling someone, yelling frantically. She knew in that instant, there was one fixed asset that had just become unfixed.

Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahul.

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