Thank you, Mr Satyamurthy!
This is an incident that I can never forget. It taught me that help does come from unexpected quarters. At times, even from a complete stranger.
His name was Satyamurthy. I remember having gone to his house with a box of sweets on that same day, but to my disappointment I could not meet him.
The year was 2010 and it happened in the city of Bangalore.
It was a Thursday evening and I was walking back to my apartment after work. I was in a rush and was mentally making a note of all the odd chores that had to be finished within the next two days. The rent was already delayed and I wanted that off the list at the earliest. The ATM was just a few blocks away from my flat and I frankly had no excuses for having waited till the 11th hour. With my brown leather wallet clutched tightly in one hand and mobile phone in the other, I decided to withdraw the money immediately.
Just as I was stepping out of the ATM, the phone rang and for the next forty five minutes I was lost in conversation with my cousin. Sitting on one of the park benches inside my apartment complex, I was oblivious to everything around me. Once our conversation ended, I walked back to the apartment still lost in the stories that we had just shared. A while after I entered my room, I realized that the cook had to be paid. I opened the front pouch of my bag and froze. No wallet! The pouch was empty. I searched the bag frantically, throwing every item on the floor.
Oh No!!! The park bench….
As luck would have it, the next minute electricity in the entire building went out. I rushed outside with a small flashlight. Time was running out. God please let my wallet be where it was….. Please.
Deep down I knew that no passerby would ignore a wallet lying on a park bench without an owner. And then with the entire building in darkness, the culprit would have easily slipped away.
My fears came true. There was no trace of the wallet at the spot. Not on the bench, not below it. Nowhere. I recklessly stopped a few joggers to ask if they had noticed a brown leather wallet a while ago. All of them shook their heads. One of them even tried to console me, “I hope you didn’t have too much money in it. Don’t you worry, if you have left your business card, then you might get it back.”
His attempt at reassurance made me feel worse because I didn’t have a single business card or any other related document which had my address and mobile number. I had some outdated visiting cards which belonged to previous vendors and they would have forgotten me anyway. My hard earned money was gone. All thanks to my foolishness. I quickly called both the banks and blocked my cards. But there was nothing I could do about the money which I had withdrawn from the ATM.
Above everything, I was ashamed at my carelessness. My fiancé tried to console me and offered to give me the money immediately. My mother of course gave me a piece of her mind because it was the second time in two years that I was losing a wallet and this time with a lot of money. Did I really not have any value for money?? I went to sleep teary-eyed and managed to sleep for barely two hours or so. The next day, I dragged myself to work. Everyone at the office sympathised with me but I know that they were equally shocked at my negligence.
That’s when I received his phone call.
The number was obviously unknown and I was in no mood to entertain any customer care officer or credit card sales executive. Reluctantly, I attended to it when it rang for the nth time.
“Hello, is this Miss Priya Jayarajan?”
“Yes” (Ok the name is Piya… but never mind!)
“Hello Miss Priya, this is Satyamurthy here.”
“Satya?.. Who?” (Not in the mood for small talk, please!)
“Yes, This is Mr Satyamurthy here. I have been trying to reach you since last evening. Did you lose a brown wallet last evening at Koramangala, National Games Village?”
I could not believe my ears.
“Well Priya, I found your wallet when I was out for a walk with my wife last evening. We were passing by Ganga Block and it was lying on one of the benches. You should not leave your wallet with so much money in it child! Did you not have close to Rs 20000 in it??”
“Yes Yes SIR, it is mine. I had misplaced it.”
“Misplaced it? Ok, pls be careful and you must always carry your contact details……”.
“I know Sir, I am very sorry….but I am so grateful that you found it and contacted me. Thank you so much. Where are you calling from Sir? Please let me know when and where I can come to collect it.”
“Ok, pls collect it today itself, as early as you can. Pls take down my address and phone number…..”
My head was spinning with joy. I wanted to rush back right then and meet this wonderful gentleman and thank him for his kindness. I told all my colleagues and even they wanted to celebrate my good luck. They were naturally curious. “But how did he find you? You didn’t ask him that?”
“Maybe it had something to do with my bank”. That’s when I received the next call. It was a colleague.
“Hi Piya, this is Prashant here from cubicle 6261.”
Cubicle 6261 was my previous work station number.
“Hey, did one Mr Satyamurthy call you?”
“Yes! I just spoke to him. Why do you ask?”
Apparently, after having found the credit cards with my name on it, Satyamurthy had called my bank and requested them to share my contact details. The bank had refused and he had to personally convince the branch manager that this was a missing wallet and that he wanted to give it back to the owner. After much persuasion, the bank manager had reluctantly agreed and shared the registered address which belonged to my office. This fortunately or unfortunately had my previous work station number where Prashant was seated at the time of the phone call.
“He kept addressing you as Priya and the first few times I even hung up thinking it is a wrong number. Thankfully, it struck me the third time. He said he got the number from your bank and that’s when I asked him the entire story. You are one lucky lady to get your wallet back.”
“I knowwwww… Thanks for all your help too, Prashant.” I gushed.
That evening, I rushed with a box of sweets to Satyamurthy’s house only to find that he had stepped out. His wife instantly remembered, “Oh! it is your wallet which we found yesterday, right? I am sorry he has stepped out for some urgent work. He has asked me to hand over the wallet to you.”
She removed the wallet from her cupboard and asked me to join her in the pooja room. She did a quick aarti to the lord and placed the wallet in my hands. I was deeply touched.
“From now on, dear, please make sure you are careful with money. This has now come back to you because of your good karma. Next time, you may never know. Please check the wallet before you leave.”
“No, that’s alright aunty. This is truly an unforgettable experience and an eye-opener for me. I do not know how to thank you all, especially uncle.”
As I took the wallet from her hand, I noticed that some old visiting cards had been removed and kept aside.
His daughter who was standing next to me read my mind. “Oh, Appa did call all of them, whose names are on those cards, thinking that maybe one of them will be your friend and they will know how to contact you. Many of them didn’t remember you, though. That’s when he decided to contact your bank.”
Having no more words to express my gratitude, I quickly handed over the box of sweets to her saying, “Please accept this as a gift from me.”
With a broad smile, she opened the box immediately and handed me a ladoo. “Here.., you must have the first one.”
Mumbai-based Piya Jayarajan says that writing keeps her grounded while dancing gives her a high. You can read her reflections on life and living HERE.
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