In George Sumner Albee’s short story ‘The Next Voice You Hear’, suddenly one day god announces on transistor radios that he would revisit the world. People get surprised at this but they aren’t ready to believe it. God performs little but remarkable miracles and people slowly begin to believe him, but still there is this mulish kind of people who scoff at these godly miracles, but god manages to convince these guys in the end. How? Let me spill it at the end of this piece.
Our Prime Minister announcing Demonetisation on November 8 last year on TV was something like the incident in Albee’s story. Surveys even suggest this as the most astounding newsbreak in recent history; for some people it is the news of their life time. Yes, people were amazed, they awed at the resolve of the PM in weeding out black money from our economy and strengthening it for good.
That evening of excitement grew into a night of pushy dreams. In those dreams EMIs grew slimmer, banks offered loans at incredibly cheap interest rates, economy bloomed, and poverty was seen packing its bags hurriedly. Myriad colours floated in a hazy iridescence and a dulcet voice murmured, ‘guys, you needn’t pay Income Tax for a decade!’ The lesser mortals too had excitement, new Bank notes! They were overjoyed like a kid on the eve of Diwali waiting for papa arriving home with new clothes. They could hardly wait to lay their hands on the fresh-print pink notes.
As the news began to sink in it was a mixed feeling of excitement (no black money, new notes) and anxiety (for now, where could we get those 100 rupee notes?). There were some visible changes in people in the early demonetisation days. The neighbourhood morning walkers changed their course so that it had 2 to 3 ATMs en route. A rare and previously unheard rapport was seen among members of the family, ‘mama: this bank, papa: that ATM, anna: that bank, me: this ATM’. Some technophobe Rip van Winkles woke up and asked, how to begin net banking? My smart-phone can send and receive money, really? Also POS became the most searched acronym in Google from India and the noun ‘queue’ got two new synonyms, bank and ATM.
There were those disturbing scenes as well. A doddering old woman with a few 500 rupee notes in a bank queue. Agony writ all over her face, a village woman asking, where she could get change for the 2000 rupee. A differently abled guy trying to withdraw his 1000 odd from ATM, where there were only 2000 rupee notes. Yet, it seemed that people were ready to bear this out for the benefits in the long run. But the government and the RBI started shifting goal posts and demonetisation turned out to be a nobly conceived, poorly executed idea.
Let me come to Albee’s story. God plans for a grand finale for the doubting Thomases. He says he is going to sink entire Australia into the sea for one whole Minute. Till the last second before the sinking minute the toughies keep mocking god. Australia goes down into the sea, stays there for a minute and emerges back. A minute of suffocation and only the inflated things come out and float. Imagine demonetisation was a quick sink, you know what came afloat.
Read Also: Down The Memory Lane Of Demonetisation
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