People say there are certain stages in life. I agree. Education I had, employment I got and I married, and as a corollary had kids. Settled in life, to put in common parlance.
The next stage is as people say, paying back to the society.
I looked back ' I had taken so much help from many a people but did not help anybody so far! I thought this is time to help somebody. After all what is life? Help somebody; see the gratitude in their eyes. My mind was prepared but not so prepared was my pocket. So I thought I should help people in such a way that it does not create a dent in my purse and does not give an opportunity to my wife to grill me.
So I had thought I would try to help somebody in my native town back home in India. With all the seriousness, I had included this in my agenda on my last year's vacation.
I went to India with ready agenda. I tried to explore means of helping the society. In India also, like everywhere, I found, help means giving money and I had to tell repeatedly my intentions, i.e., not to help with money. People came to me with the blue prints of their programs, advertisement tariffs in souvenirs etc and etc. I was stunned by the discounts they offered- for quarter page the rate was Rs. 5,000, but for a full page it was Rs 12,000 only! Then there were talks of how they can put my name in the village school classroom etc. but everywhere they expected money or at least an assurance to send money.
I put my foot down. The local MLA was furious about me. He wanted to build a school with 12 classrooms, each to be financed by someone and the school named after his father! He told in a meeting that people become self- centered once they leave the country. " Look, I met a gentleman - he wants the school to be named after his father just because he is willing to bear the cost of one class room" was his comment in a village meeting without naming me!
But still I was looking to help somebody.
Then came an opportunity. One of my old friends came to me and asked a favor. Without cost. All that I had to do was become a director in the local co-operative society! There was a group preparing to float a co-operative society. All that I need to do is to put in some deposits, and canvas for some more!!. Considering that they were giving interest of half a percent more than banks on deposits, this was not a bad idea.
Thirty days of leave went on like a dream. Hectic it was that I could not even attend the inauguration of the co-operative society. On the day of my departure, I went to the co-operative society, opened a deposit account. I had Rs 50,000 and as the vacation had almost ended, I deposited it there. The manager was very co-operative; he explained to me how the co-op is planning to serve the village by extending facilities to the poorest of the poor. "When you come next time sir, you see a lot of improvement here. We are committed to make things happen here and you can take my word" told the manager, handing over some account opening forms and he gave me a grand send off. After all I am one of the eight directors you see!
Life in Gulf is hectic. People are so busy, they forget everything. In a weeks time I had totally forgotten my spent vacation.
Months passed by. I became eligible for vacation again. My motherland and my urge to pay back the society were beckoning me. My wife was planning to visit her sister in US with the kids. I planned a trip to India. Suddenly I remembered the forms the manager of the co operative had given me. I called a few friends of mine, collected a few demand drafts as deposits.
I was home. As usual, the news must have made quick rounds. People started to come to see me; one of them was my friend who made me a director in the co-op.
"How is the co-op doing now?" I asked.
"Did they send you a notice?" He replied
"What notice?" I asked in wonder.
"We will go out, I will explain" he wanted to hush up the matter in front of my people.
We started off to the riverbank
"There was a big fraud in the co-op" he started and explained the matter.
I could slowly gather the gravity of the foul play. We sat down on a rock.
"Three directors and the manager are involved. The police are investigating. We need to go to police station" he was guilty faced, because it was he who provided me this chance!
We went to the police station.
The inspector welcomed us. He offered tea! I was amused. We had a big discussion. He explained the case in detail. A total of Rs 28.50 lakhs were drawn as "loans to directors".
"You took a very small loan of two lakhs. Better pay it off and avoid arrest " the inspector was calm and firm.
I was terrified. I told him "I had just deposited Rs 50,000 and that was the only transaction I did".
"All the directors are telling the same sir. That is why it has gone for criminal case. The manager and three directors are in judicial custody. Two more directors are absconding and the president has taken anticipatory bail. One director has agreed to pay the loan standing in his name and you are the last one" the inspector quipped.
"But I did not take loans; I was in Dubai, how I can take the loan from Dubai?" I protested
The inspector stood up.
"I know that. You managed it in such a way. I have the arrest warrant. The court will decide the truth. It is the registrar who has filed the case. Go to him, agree for the installments and file a copy of the agreement here. Or else, go to the court and get an anticipatory bail. The choice is yours. I am coming to your home with hand cuffs in two days" the inspector started screaming at the top of his voice.
My friend took him to a side and "properly "explained him.
He came back to the seat as a different man. "No other way out sir, go to the registrars' office and agree on installments. If the case is decided in your favor, you will get your money back" he told politely.
We rushed to the registrar's office. I told the registrar all the facts. That did not surprise him at all. He took out a file from a six feet by four feet fully packed shelf named "co-op frauds". Slowly looking at the file he told "See, all the four in the jail are just like you. The president, who as people say, who did this, has anticipatory bail. The other director whose case is also similar to you has agreed to installments. Now you decide".
There was nothing left to decide.
Without any selfish motive, without known to even my wife, I am paying back to the society!!