The ATM Messenger - contd
by Uddipta Dutta
(Jorhat, Assam, India)
Back to Page 1 of story
" I work for the Indian Army in the Captain's position. I got transferred to the Ladakh regiment three and a months ago. In this whole area, there is so much network problem, almost no network zone. Luckily someday, I will get some network if my luck smiles at me. My family lives in a remote village in Bihar. They have always been worried about me ever since I joined the Indian army. Now my wife is pregnant with an eight-month baby. Father cannot walk properly. Somehow my mother is fit and fine managing everything to run the household there. They want to hear from me every day, but because of the network issue, I am unable to do it. Therefore, instead of waiting for the network to talk to them. So, I have found another way to communicate with them, to tell them that I am alive and fine". He paused for a moment, looked outside towards the ATM's direction. Then he continued, " This ATM here is the nearest ATM to my regiment. Approximately 8 kilometers away from our base. So I come to this ATM here, every day at 8 a.m., and withdraw a hundred rupee note. So whenever I take out a hundred rupee notes from the ATM in the morning, the message of debiting from the account goes to my mobile number which is with my wife now. That message, every day gives an assurance to my family that I am still alive somewhere here in this troubled network area. Knowing the fact that I am fit and fine they also start their day happily. Only under unavoidable circumstances, sometimes I miss coming to the ATM, and that happens very rarely".
While finishing his story I could see an unknown emotion overflowing in his face. Perhaps the emotion was a combination
of both joy and dejection.
Once he finished his story he started sipping the tea. He took the last sip and kept the cup over the kiosk desk.
" How much?" he asked me.
My mind had already started thinking about my family.
" No sir, You serve our nation. I won't take money from you."
He smiled gently, " And you need to serve your customers".
He kept one fifty rupee note over the table. He looked outside. By the time the rain had stopped almost. He made one gesture with his hand indicating he was leaving. He approached his bike. Opened the bike dikki and took a piece of cloth and wiped the rain droplets from the seat and helmet, and then he sat on his bike and wore his helmet. The next moment I heard the rumbling of his bike engine, and he vanished from my sight in the blink of the eye. His story made me speechless. His devotion to his family made me stunned. All I was thinking at that time was my parents, wife, and my two kids. Their faces were coming to my mind one after another like the waves of current. What am I supposed to do without them? How would they survive without me? I was overwhelmed thinking about the sacrifice army people like him make every day to protect our borders, to shield us against our enemy. Sametime I was also moved to think of the extraordinary part one ATM can play in one’s life. One small room with a machine and it has the power to carry the news that the bearer of the card is still alive! That was astonishing! In the meantime, my phone started ringing. I saw the number, my wife was calling me. Then I remembered, I forgot to ask him one thing again, his name.***