Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Tantalizing Cheque That Bounced


She was statuesque. I was spellbound and gaped at her like a boor as she walked into the Bank with an elegant ease. My heart missed several beats as she looked around with her doe eyes. Her exquisite charm brought the hustle and bustle in the banking hall to a standstill. The atmosphere suddenly turned ethereal.

Those were the days when I was posted in a sleepy little town and had nothing better to do than pass cheques in “good faith and without negligence”. The era of class banking was fading away and the concept of mass banking was yet to catch on. In the process, we were deprived of both – the classic beauties as well as the village belles.

Nonetheless, there was an occasional lucky break. There she was! Ravishing and gorgeous. The beauty that I always dreamt and fantasized about. She presented a cheque at the counter for payment and I waited expectantly to pass the most tantalizing cheque in my life.

A series of silly thoughts passed through my mind… Should I call her closer and tell her that the signatures do not match perfectly? No-no, that would be too amateurish. I should be more subtle…

My counter clerk pushed the ledger towards me. I could clearly see the mischief in his sparkling eyes. He proclaimed a bit too loudly, “It seems, sir, the cheque is bearer.”

I felt embarrassed as he cast a meaningful glance at her. I knew he was speaking in our code language in which a bearer cheque meant an unmarried girl. Likewise, we referred to married ladies as account payee cheques. School-going girls were post-dated cheques and ageing aunties were, of course, stale cheques.

The cashier made the payment with a flashy smile as I had never seen him do earlier. After counting the notes, she turned back towards our counter. Gracefully, she approached my counter clerk and said, “Thanks a lot for the prompt service. Well, let me introduce myself. I am Mrs Kapoor.”

Mr Kapoor, the new Branch Manager, had just taken over and had gone away to attend a seminar at the head office. Keeping a hand over her mangal-sootra, she remarked with a gentle grin, “Now, you know, the cheque isn’t bearer. It is account payee!”

And, she walked away triumphantly…