A poem about demonetization.
With apologies to Poe.
Once upon a lazy Tuesday, as I tried to make some headway
On some work I could not delay, my eyelids began to droop.
While I swayed, almost sleeping, suddenly there came a beeping
As of some old lady weeping, weeping in a Whatsapp group
“’Tis some forward,” I muttered, “creeping in some Whatsapp group—
Only this, no need to swoop.”
Ah, vividly I remember, it was in early November;
And each Opposition party member sought to protest upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished to get, some sort of connection to the net
On my old and battered handset, so I could see the damn message
So I could see and read and then delete the damn Whatsapp message
And live in peace for evermore.
Presently my connection grew stronger, hesitating then no longer,
“Modi,” said I, “or madman, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was sleeping, and so silently you came sneaking,
And so seriously you came speaking, speaking in a Whatsapp video,
That I scarce was sure it was you”—here I opened full screen the video;
Darkness there and nothing more.
Deep into that video peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing,
Muttering, counting notes I never cared to count before;
But the silence was unbroken, and Doordarshan gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Mitron?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Mitron!”—
Merely this and nothing more.
And into the city turning, all my soul within me burning,
I rushed forth with a single yearning: some cash to scavenge for.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is a hawker selling ragda pattice
And an ATM next to him that is attracting an uproar,
Let me go and check out what’s attracting this uproar –
‘Tis a queue! And nothing more!”
As I joined the queue rejoicing, it bowed its head as one, sighing,
As if in that one recoiling, its whole soul did it outpour.
Nothing further then it uttered – not a bag nor cellphone fluttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other tellers have shut before –
In a minute this one will too, as machines have done before.”
But then I walked through the door.
Open here it flung its shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
Out there dropped a malnourished two thousand rupee note;
No great texture or design had it, I noticed as I quickly read it,
But, at least, to its great credit, it was a valid banknote—
It was a valid, legal, “tender”, and life-saving banknote—
For now, I could float.
Outside, the note lay unfolded, as I observed and closely read
The rectangular piece of pinkish red paper that I there bore.
“Though you might fulfill your duty, you,” I said, “are sure no beauty,
Nor would many call you a cutie; in fact you’re an eyesore;
You’re a cheap and gaudy, third-rate, showy, substandard eyesore.”
Quoth the note “Mitron”.
Much I marveled this ungainly note to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning–little relevancy bore;
For you must accept the truth, that no healthy and sober youth
Had ever held such a smooth-talking currency note,
Such a smooth-talking, pink, badly-printed two thousand rupee note
That addressed him as “Mitron”.
Then, methought, the air grew denser, just outside the cash dispenser,
So I started moving, tenser, to the adjacent grocery store.
Here a grizzled, old, undaunted man, with eyes dark and haunted,
Looked at me as if he wanted to ask me something more
As if he wanted nothing but to ask me something more.
I stared at this eyesore.
“Prophet!” said he, “note-bearer, may none be wiser or fairer,
By that man that looks out for us – that Modi we both adore –
Tell this soul cloven by mayhem, if within that ATM,
It shall clasp a sainted gem which it has come here for –
Clasp the rare and radiant pink gem which it has come here for.”
I said, “Patience, mitron.”
“Be that word our sign of parting, anti-national!” he shrieked upstarting –
“Get thee gone to Pakistan or the next-door grocery store!
Leave no paper slip as token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my patriotism unbroken! – go to Balaji general store!
Go and buy your treasonous goods from Balaji general store!”
So I gladly went next door.
And the queue, never dwindling, still is waiting, still is waiting,
Outside the SBI ATM, beside the grocery store;
And their eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the burly ATM guard throws his weight around the door;
But have patience, wait for fifty, hundred, two hundred days more,
A few more months, mitron!