Wake Up Calls

I was dancing around the trees and sprinkling water from the river on to the goats and cows grazing in the nearby fields. How beautifully I was singing Chinna Chinna Aasai Siragadikkum Aasai(Click on the song to view and listen to it. One of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard and equally beautifully picturised.)

Cock A Doodle Doo, Cock A Doodle Doo…

I rubbed my eyes because I had not seen any rooster around and was wondering where the sound came from. Right then it went again…

Cock A Doodle Doo, Cock A Doodle Doo…

And now I got startled and got up from the bed only to realize that I was singing and dancing in my dreams and the rooster was crowing from no other place than the alarm clock sitting and staring at me on the side table.

Dreams and movies can be so misleading. I’m not even a bathroom singer and there I was competing to be Chitra in my dreams.

Picture courtesy: Google Image Search

10 ‘o’ clock!!! I’m late.

I rushed and got ready in a fast-track mode and rushed out of my house. The hot Idlis and Sambhar that Amma had left on the dining table had their jaws dropped as I ignored them and got out of the house.

It was Sunday morning and my parents as usual were on their pilgrimage visit around the city to the South-Indian temples. Hard core Iyer couple they are. The cooperative bank in our locality was open only for half a day. I rushed as it remains closed on Monday. I had woken up just in time to reach the bank before it shuts in another hour for public transactions.

I had cleared the entrance and the group discussion to one of the premier technological universities of the country and now it was time to submit the fees. Monday was the last date. It indeed sounded funny that the A category technological university of the country required us to submit our fees in the form of a demand draft along with a hard-copy form. Isn’t that putting technology to shame? A university which offers advanced courses in technology for which students throng from all corners of the world was sticking to the age old tradition of fully filled and attested form and a DD.

I was climbing up the stairs to the bank thinking of this and smiling to myself. As I entered the bank I saw an old lady walking from one person to another with a slip. Just like human tendency nothing of this sort can have my attention for long. So there I was filling up the Demand Draft form and I hear this.

Kahaan kahaan se uth ke aa jaate hain? Likhna padna nahi aata to kisne bola that ki sarkari bank mein khaata khulvao? Subah subah time kharaab kar rahi hai budiya. Chalo hatto yahaan se…


Don’t know from where all these people come? If you don’t know how to read and write, who asked you to open an account in a nationalized bank? Wasting my time early in the morning this old lady. Move from here now…

Now that was nothing short of a saas-bahu serial that keeps Amma hooked on to the television almost on all evenings. I looked toward that direction and saw a very well-dressed young chap was speaking so rudely to this visibly 70+ lady dressed up in a saree torn at various places. The old lady moved away from there without a single word. I saw the embarassment on her face which was getting all red and I could feel them getting warmer and how hard she was trying to hide it. For a few seconds I chewed on my lips and tried to control myself. But I lost it. The young blood in me started boiling and I headed towards this chap.

ME: “You look like a well-educated man. Are you?”

CHAP : “Yes. Of course! But why does that bother you?”

ME: “Which school did you graduate from? Do you have anyone back home to call as yourself or are you an orphan? I mean any buddha-budiya who has brought you up?”

CHAP: “What the hell? Who are you to ask me such questions? Mind your own business.”

ME: “I was minding my own business. But your behavior towards this old lady is what has brought me here. If you have any sense of what you’ve done, say sorry to her.”

Stubborn and arrogant that he was, he simply stared at me as if he was going to gobble me up. He stamped his foot a few times and walked out as the entire crowd around looked on. I went up to the lady and understood that she had come to withdraw Rs.1500 and was asking for help in filling up the pay-in slip as she did not know how to read and write. But apparently in that crowded bank with at least 80-90 people, there was no one who could help her fill the form. On a Sunday morning people were so busy that they didn’t have 2-3 minutes to spare for that shabbily dressed woman. And this ‘gentleman’ had all the time and the manners to disregard her and shout at her for no fault. When I offered help and started filling up the form, she informed me that the money was her husband’s pension with which she survives. After handing over the filled up form to her, I got busy with the DD form submission and then I was sitting on one of the chairs waiting to receive the DD. This is when I saw the lady coming up to me smiling all the way. She touched my forehead and with her toothless smile she said, “Sukhi raho beta! Jeete raho!

The twinkle in her eyes were much more worthier than the 2-3 minutes.

The idlis and sambhar though not hot at all tasted exceptionally tastier that day. And now I understand why Amma says, A good deed is never lost.

“Never look down on someone unless you’re helping them up.”

~ Jesse Jackson


This is a fictional piece based on a true incident.

This post is part of the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts program where the aim is to post at least once a day based on the prompts that they have provided. Today’s prompt is, “Cringe-worthy: Do you feel uncomfortable when you see someone else being embarrassed? What’s most likely to make you squirm?

The author Rekha Dhyani is one of the contributors to the We Post Daily and blogs regularly at Dew Drops. She also shares her lucky clicks at The Crystal Trance


23 Replies to “Wake Up Calls”

  1. This post stuck a chord with me as I have also come across extremely rude, insensitive people working at banks, post offices, railway stations who judge people based on how they look, how they dress, how they speak, whether they speak English or not.
    Quite sad that people who work in such ‘customer-facing’ roles and in the ‘services’ sector don’t necessarily like to face customers or provide services in the first place.

    1. He was not an employee of the bank, but just another customer like me and the lady. You said it people are ever ready to judge others based on their looks, clothes and knowledge of English. They simply forget that by doing so without knowing them they are just exposing their true self.

  2. This happens all the time all over the place. Such disadvantaged people act as punching bags for people like the young man in your story.
    As you said, it takes about 2 minutes to fill up a form at a bank. I’ve done it often for various people. If the young man didn’t have the time and/or the inclination to help the old lady, he could have politely refused.

  3. Happens all the time Rekha. And I have suffered too. Looking at me people seldom think that I have a brain and can speak too 🙂
    We can’t change others but we can do out bit by helping others. Change will come but very slow and subtle.

  4. People who are considerate to others are very rare to find these days.As the quote says “It is the way one treats his inferiors more than the way he treats his equals which reveals one’s real character.” Without an inward sense of goodness, however educated we are it is of no use. Our behavior surely reflects our upbringing.

    1. Very True. I guess you sent me a friend request sometime back. I wasn’t able to relate so left it at that moment and am unable to find it now. Can you please ping me again?

  5. Good story. Some of the nationalized banks behave rudely to not only the old people but also to any other customer. Of course the illiterate senior citizens get a raw deal in many places. Youngsters are very impatient to clarify their queries. Thought provoking story out of a real incident.

  6. Nice story, Rekha. I like how, in fiction too, you manage to weave a message. It is an idea I come across only on your blog.
    I have nothing to say about those too-busy-to-help people. Perhaps, in another pair of shoes they will realise those moments of looking away or being nasty.

    1. Thanks Saks!
      Yes. Unless people find themselves in the other person’s shows they find it difficult to understand the other person’s situation. Rudeness for no reason irks me a lot.

  7. How very rude of that man. But you are right, it is indeed common to see people judge and react to people’s appearances. A good deed whether towards a human or animal is never lost. I believe in it too. Nicely told, Rekha!

  8. It is really sad that this happens so often and the culprits are these so-called “educated” folks always ready to look down upon anyone and everyone who looks, talks, behaves a certain way. If this is what education does, perhaps it is better to stay uneducated then! Hopefully there will be more and more people like the young student in the story to make those rude, arrogant, pompous folks get some sense into their bloated heads with all that “education”. A very good read, Rekha!

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