This is a relatively new story – warm, crisp and oven-fresh.
It happened to people close to me, at a place not so close to me… o’er the hills and far away… southward… to a particular town in God’s own country.
The story begins with a speed-post envelope that set off on its journey on the 30th of March. It contained a valuable piece of paper – a crossed cheque meant for a particular person, let’s call her Devi, for a sizeable amount, about one lakh and a half INR.
Devi and her family are away from home from the 7th of April, and they receive information on the 10th, that the cheque is en route.
Frantic phone calls follow, to friends, neighbours, and other countrymen, to look out for its arrival, and intercept as soon as it is spotted on the highway. Days follow, and the afore-mentioned well wishers keep their eyes peeled for the light and bulky cheque.
On 12th, Devi finds out that the cheque originated from the same town which she had left a few days ago. By all laws of Mathematics, Physics and Logic, the envelope should have reached her before she left home. Tension mounts.
Another set of phone calls, coordinated by Devi, follow, first to the originator of the cheque, to get the tracking number to locate the speed-post, then to the friendly neighbourhood countrymen. The next day, one of them proceeds to the General Post Office (GPO) and produces the tracking number. He is then directed to another Post Office which has the responsibility of delivering the speed-post. To his shock, he learns before long that the speed-post, the precious bulky amount, has been ‘received by Devi’ as indicated by the signature on the receipt.
Tension gives way to Panic of the highest degree. Keeping Devi updated on his findings, he proceeds to search for the postman who has delivered it. He is out delivering mails, so he leaves his number and other contact details with the Post Office and returns home.
Devi and her family are devastated. One and a half lakhs of rupees is no small amount. Someone has deliberately signed and received the cheque. It could be too late, but for what it is worth, Devi calls the sender of the cheque, and requests him to verify if the amount has been debited from his account, and if not, to ask the bank to block the cheque. If the transfer has taken place, to see what account it has been moved to.
The next day, word arrives from the neighbour who had followed up with the Post Office. The post man has appeared at his doorstep, with a bright, though embarrassed, smile, and has unravelled the mystery. Knowing that the family is away and also that the envelope contains a cheque, he relied on his wisdom to sign the receipt himself, and pushed the envelope safely beneath the door of Devi’s house. Holding him tight by the ears lest he should escape, the neighbour – who fortunately had a key to Devi’s house – proceeded to open the door to find the lost envelope with its precious cargo safe and sound.
Another set of phone calls, though in a much milder and relieved tone, flow across the network, informing the rest of the worried clan about the safe arrival of the speed-post, and to the originator to not block the cheque.
No surprise, when the neighbour asked Devi whether he should forward the cheque to her at her current Location, the answer was a Loud “NOOOOO!”
All’s well that ends well… Though the fate of the postman who scribbled the false signature, though with harmless intentions, is as of now uncertain.
Any guesses on the Moral of the Story?