Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Getting the first money order --- By Shashi Pal Jain -- The Tribune
Getting the first money orderShashi Pal Jain
Today messages and money can be transferred to any part of the world with the click of a mouse. But who can forget the thrill of a postman knocking at the door with a money order or a postcard in hand? Those were the days when earning a living was difficult and options were limited. Often, the elder son of a family ventured to far-off places in search of work. Very few families were a bit affluent. Managing the necessities was itself a daily challenge.
My elder brother, the late Satya Bhushan, was the first in the family to have managed a job at the Hindustan Motors in Kolkata. The telephone had still not arrived in the family. We, three brothers and our parents, would eagerly wait for a postcard from Kolkata. My eyes still shed a tear of nostalgia when I recall the scene of the arrival of his first salary to our home in Kharar in the form of a money order.
The aged postman, Piare Lal, was no stranger to us in this small town for he had been a part of our joys and sorrows. But this time he came excited, demanding home-made sweets from my mother. Not disclosing the reason for his excitement, he handed over five hundred rupees, a princely sum at that time, bringing tears of happiness to my late father, who was a while ago complaining of financial constrains. "Rup Lal, your days of happiness have finally arrived", the postman said. We, the three siblings, repeatedly counted the big five currency notes of Rs100 each, for in those days one had never touched an amount as large as this.
Another time, a telegram would arrive from my maternal uncles, sending "shagun' on "rakhi" to my mother, as a mark of their remembrance and affection. My mother would make us write replies to her brothers on a postcard, thus testing our language skills, lately acquired at school.
When I started contributing news reports to The Tribune in 1981, I received my first payment of Rs 2.80 through a money order. That was the start of my career as a journalist and the elderly Piare Lal became part of this. Piare Lal would walk through the streets with a bag on his shoulders. At times he would sit on a cot spread outside small houses, enjoy a cup of tea offered by his patrons. His talk would revolve around worldly matters, on which sometimes his advice was sought. He had become a part of our life. His mere sight was enough for the heart to pound and eyes to anticipate. When we were children, he played his own little games of suspense while delivering the results of our examinations or at times would give us a free ride on his bicycle. Those were the days when small things of life were a source of joy. Resources were limited, but enough to share. Life was uncertain. Yet hope sustained life.
Times have changed. Now my civil servant son is just a Skype call away, while the Almighty has bestowed on us all material comforts. However, the charms of receiving an envelope from the postman, and sharing one's joys and sorrows in public, are still the ones this heart longs for.