I am made of paper however, unlike ordinary paper items; I have never seen a dustbin in my life. I have never been thrown in fire and I have travelled a lot. I am the highest denomination of Indian rupee, a one thousand rupee note.
I remember the first day when I came into existence. A crisp, vermilion red colour I was. I went through a lot of scanning till my countenance was finally approved. With my other companions, I was stacked in a pile till I made my way into the hands of my first owner through an Automated Teller Machine.
My first owner belonged to an upper middle class family. For him, I was a regular visitor of his wallet. He worked hard to earn his daily bread. He was family oriented and the comfort of his children and fulfilling their desires was his only goal. He could afford luxuries but at the same time appreciated the value of money. Along came Diwali and I was put on Goddess Lakshmi’s feet with some betel nut. I was worshipped and I felt honoured. My owner traded me in exchange for a gold coin from the jeweller’s store.
That is how I got my share of experience in a multinational company. Their management was systematic and well organised. From the dealer to the distributor to the head office I travelled. Here, neither was I worshipped nor was I given any importance. Money came to and fro their accounts. It was all business for them. No strings attached.
However, I should have known I was not in safe hands. My owner who was also the chief executive officer of the jewellery company was involved in underworld activities. That is how I ended up in a world of sins. I was transported in a truck in the middle of the night. The heavy amount of money was probably more than the actual weight of the truck. The next morning, as the Don liked to say, the money reached ‘safely’ or in my terms, my comrades and I had dodged the eyes of the police. For a long time, I did not see the day light for I was shut in a dark room that was only opened to stock more notes. Obviously, I never got to see the bank in the short while that I was there because performing white transactions eluded my owner, the Don.
One day, the Don packed me in a suitcase. I wondered for what purpose I was going to be traded for. We entered a room that was thronging with activities. Although, I was shut in a suitcase, it was apparent that I was in a bar. There was loud music and the air was filled with smoke. I could hear glasses clinking and people chattering. Mafia gambled and looted each other’s illegal money. After a while, the music completely stopped and I could sense I had been taken into another room. Eventually, the suitcase was opened. I was no longer in a crowd. It was a dark and dingy lobby. There was a circular stage in the centre surrounded by four chairs. My owner was sitting in one, the other three were also full. Turn by turn, women were being showcased on the stage. I deduced this was some human trafficking business. The place was disgusting. The don took a bundle of us and showered a volley of notes at the women. I felt disgraced as my corner slightly brushed the woman’s sacred body.
The woman clutched me in her hands and walked by. We both shared our humiliation. She rushed to her shelter. Many other victims lived there. Some involved in pole dancing while some in prostitution. My new owner had a seven year old son. She gave me to him as a present on his birthday.
The happiness I saw in the young child’s eyes elated me. He was awestruck by my value. The boy did not let me leave his sight. He ran and showed it to his friends who were fascinated by me. They all wanted to touch me and get the feel. The boy kept me in his pocket and time and again, he checked on me scared if by any chance I got lost. His friends asked him for what purpose would he use me or if he planned to keep me as a show piece in a museum. The boy had not decided yet what he would spend me on. Even I was eager to know for how long my stay would be with him. He put me in his piggy bank, with a hope to one day spend me wisely.
Honestly, I did not want to leave his company. He understood how valuable I was. I wish I looked prettier and neater so that I could have been more impressive. I was no longer crisp. My colour had also faded. However, my superficial beauty hardly mattered. Even this adolescent understood the value of looking at someone’s inner beauty, their real meaning and not to judge a book by its cover. He made me regain my belief in my worth.