Ten rupees?

Manohar pours water overloaded tea in a dust stained glass and brings it to me, humming a tune from a new bollywood movie starring his worshiped hero Shahrukh Khan. He hands the glass to me and sits down  next to me, close enough to initiate a homosexual relation, "Bhaiya ji, tell me na bhaiya ji, when shall I become Super-Ishtar ''.
“It’s a long wait Manohar. Continue at your efforts. You would definitely shine one day, like a real Ishtar. Ok?” He walks back to his cooking vessels.

Useless people from all round the locality come to me, to know what future has for them. I am quite a reputed fortune teller in this Gandhi chawl and also a part time newspaper delivery boy. However I, being almost literate ,do not believe  in these fortunes. For me it is just a source of living. It earns me enough to pay my monthly rental, though with a fortnightly delay.

Having sipped his tea, Banwari uncle walks up to me this time. "Beta, I lost my ten rupees yesterday. Will I get them back ?"
"Why are you so worried uncle ji? It was just a ten rupee note...", I console. Almost every note that people own in chawls is in quite a miserable condition unlike the crispy notes that people from the shining India behold.
“Yes Yes, that one ! Will I get it back?"

My correct predictions have made me quite famous here. I predicted the marriage of our half-boned Birju with the chawls Katrina . I had rightly predicted Salman Khan’s Dabangg  to be a super hit. It proved to be a life changer for Ganesh, a famous black ticket seller of the area. He had bought a large number of tickets on my advice. He now owns a handsome flat in Juhu and I deliver a newspaper even at his bungalow. I rightly predicted the end of some endless bombay rains and power cuts. I even predicted the downfall of, our chawl owner. He fell down from the stairs while he was coming to collect my unpaid 3 month rent .

And many more useless predictions have been witnessed by the useless people of Gandhi chawl, and they trust me .It is sometimes tempting for me to check my own future but I stay away from it , for that is what my guru, Late Pandit Ram Prakash Batliwala told me once .

"Ten rupees do not matter uncle ji" I tell him as I put my hand in my pocket and bring out another almost malnourished note.
"See uncle ji .This is a ten rupee note, isn't it? Now I tear it into two pieces. Now both of us have lost ten rupees. The difference however is , I will not get it back whereas you might and you would." 
“I will?!" He gets up, happily. A child like glee appears on his worn out face
“Yes you will. Now my fees, please. Ten rupees.”

The spark in his eyes dies again. He slides a hand in his pocket and takes out a ten rupee note .
“Arey ! this is the very note I lost , I found it !! You have proved yourself again, my boy !” He smacks my back and starts to walk away.
“But uncle ji my ten rupees", I ask him .
“Ten rupees do not matter, my boy." He winks at me and walks away. I sit back and mentally kick myself.

Yes even ten rupees matter in the chawls and slums. Extreme poverty still exists, instead of making attempts to eradicate it, they believe Rs 2 a day is enough.


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