The Elusive Timepiece
by Vimala Ramu
(Bangalore, Karnataka, India)
It is very common to see messages on our mobiles and computers saying that we have won a big amount of money and that we should meet a certain party with bank charges or some such thing. But, except for a gullible few, nobody is taken in by such frauds anymore.
But there was a time 4-5 decades back when these charlatans thrived well, feeding on the utterly gullible public.
Those days watches and timepieces were still precious possessions. The day you were gifted with a wrist watch marked your entry into adulthood. But now, thanks to the advent of digital technology, watches have become ubiquitous and very cheap appearing even on the body of a dot pen.
Once we were staying in Delhi IIT quarters. I saw an ad in a magazine which promised a timepiece as a gift if I were to propagate an ad for stainless steel vessels through chain letters. The offer looked very simple and attractive. All I had to do was copy the matter and mail it to 6 more people through post cards. After I did it, I was to get the timepiece delivered to me at home.
When I did not get the parcel by the promised date, I contacted the people. They said that it had already been dispatched. Then I rang up the post office and enquired. I was told that a parcel had arrived for me and that it would be delivered to me at home shortly.
I waited for the parcel in vain. I even threatened to take action. In the mean time a shocking tragedy occurred in the family. My elder brother of 39 years in Bombay had died of a massive heart attack and I was in a shock. One day, the postman brought me an envelope and asked me to sign for it as it had been routed through the embassy. It was a letter from my sister, probably giving me all the details of the sad event. In my state of abject depression, it did not even strike me to ask why a letter within India had to be routed through the embassy (That’s no excuse, of course). I just signed where he indicated. Thus the postman had secured my signature for something I had never received.
That was the last I ever heard of the elusive timepiece. Even to this day, I do not know whether its disappearance had anything to do with the company or with the postal staff.
So long as there were sitting ducks like me, who could stop the tricksters from getting away with fraud? ****