My 500 notes

Nganthoi Lourembam *

My 500 notes
My 500 notes

Day 1 of demonetization

When the United States was trumped with the election result the very same day our Prime Minister declared demonetization on all the 500 and 1000 notes. That very night my Whatsapp inbox was flooded with messages. Since working in a US process I had to sleep during daytime and work at night so I didn’t read the messages earlier.

As soon as I read it I checked my wallet and there were four notes of 500 Rupees. Oh no! What to do with it? In the office everyone talked about the demonetization and could see the concern on everyone’s face. I heard some grocery shops are willing to take the notes so I thought maybe give it a try.

As soon as I logged off from work I headed to a grocery shop next to my building as my friends are also coming over for lunch at my place.I asked the grocery shop uncle if he will accept 500 notes and he strictly denied. Now I am busted.

I told him, ‘Uncle I am sure you might be having lots of 500 notes and going to exchange them so why don’t you take just another one from me, please?’

They laughed at me I know I was being stupid. The grocery uncle was kind enough to let me borrow the stuffs I need but my 500 notes still remained in my purse.

Somehow out of the four notes of my 500 Rupees two notes were used to buy chicken and beer. I was left with two notes of 500 rupees.

One week later

Me and my flat mates were running out of cash and for the daily needs we kept on borrowing from the grocery shop. I thought once I get the money exchanged I will pay off the grocery bill. I decided to go to the bank and exchange the notes but when I saw the long queue I thought ‘oh boy! I am gonna wait for a couple of days until the line becomes lesser in number.’

Exactly after a week of the demonetization I met a friend in the office who was willing to do the exchange for me. She said she had to go to the bank and do the exchange for her mother’s old notes and offered me to do the same for my money as well. Well I was obliged to hear her offer. Undoubtedly I handed over the notes to her and waited for the next day for her to come to the office.

At last I was relieved thinking that the old notes will not remain in my purse. And when my friend came to office the next day she handed me back the same old valueless notes and said, ‘I am sorry dear, there was a big line so I didn’t go.’ And thus my two 500 notes remained back to my purse which once upon a time used to be a big amount of money.

I was so disappointed with myself and I thought maybe I should forget my boredom and go to the bank and stand in queue like others. But the queue of people standing in front of banks got longer and longer than I imagined. The news got bigger and the story of people; old-young suffering due to the long wait in front of the bank made me worried.

People told me they had to wait for three to four hours in the line to get the money. I only had two notes left so I thought I will just wait and even if I miss out the deadline it’s okay it’s not a big number anymore.

Second week – exchanged at last

Amidst the news of Trump’s presidential rule in America India was not left behind in making it to the headlines. And while all of these were happening I almost forgot about my two old notes in the purse as I was acquainted with daily work. In a way I was able to survive without me having cash in my purse I meant real cash.

But not to be forgotten the groceries and other necessity stuffs are being borrowed from the very own shop. Finally I fought with my boredom and went to a bank on my work off. I went at 10 am and people were already lined up before me. I must be the 70th number in the queue. In my entire life I have never waited for anything this long.

During my college time I had waited for 30 minutes in queue for form submission and that was the longest queue and how we used to hate standing like that for so long. And today 70th in line I can’t complain. While waiting in queue I saw some amusing videos sent in the Whatsapp group; a lady happily dancing on a beach with a bunch of fish she caught and the title was written as ‘after coming from bank’ and another video a woman beggar denied to a 500 note.

I didn’t realize the time after watching the videos and reading the updates on my social networking sites I got my turn to enter the bank. When I came out of the bank I imagined myself with the lady who got fishes in her bag and dancing to the glory. It was exactly like a success after a long struggle.

I finally changed my two notes of 500 Rupees to 100 notes. Now they will become useful. I went home and I called up the grocery shop to order something new and pay off the old bill.

Everything got settled my two notes of 500 Rupees were exchanged and now I got 1000 Rupees which I can use it to pay off my debt to the grocery shop but the most hilarious part was the grocery bill came to 2500 Rupees.

I laughed to myself and said to the shopkeeper boy that I am gonna keep the bill due till the time people stop withdrawing money from the bank.

* Nganthoi Lourembam wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was posted on November 21, 2016.

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