This incident happened 6-7 months ago. I just got myself to write about it, today, me being on a blogging spree having published 5 posts in the last 24 hours. Yes, it happens with me all the time. Months without a single post, and then, days like these.
It wasn’t a deserted place. There were at least 20 people around. I was travelling by auto to office, waiting at the Traffic signal in Sector 49 (Gurgaon), mentally planning for the day ahead. 10 metres to my left, I saw a man with a full length beard, dressed in shabby clothes with a snake in his hand, begging for alms from fellow citizens. For a moment, just for a moment, he saw me looking at him and his snake. I don’t know what struck him, but he came running towards my auto. May be he sensed fear in my eyes (Yes, I was scared). May be he noticed the 3 gold rings on my fingers from that distance.
My heart started pounding heavily, with every step he took towards my vehicle. He wasn’t alone. There was one other bearded man who accompanied him, but without a snake. Our Auto was in the extreme left of the road. The other man covered the auto completely from the right side and our man got into the auto, with the snake in his hand. The snake was hissing and moving, centimetres from my face.
He begged for money. I refused. He then told, “Do rupaya de do”. Give me 2 rupees. I then didn’t know it was a trap. I was happy to give 2 rupees to get that snake out of the auto. I opened my wallet to get some change. He noticed the two 500 rupee notes (those were pre-demonetization days) and a few 100 rupee notes in my wallet. I gave him 5 rupees.
That’s when his tone started to change, like the transition from Ambi to Anniyan. He was carrying a small bowl with some kumkum inside it. He demanded, “Take the note having largest denomination in your wallet, keep it on the bowl and take it back”. I wasn’t a fool. I knew where he was coming from. He would take the 500 rupees and run out of the auto. I blatantly refused. The auto driver started cursing at him. The other man said, “Tu Chup kar. Aaram se baat karo”. You keep shut. Talk politely. The Auto walah then gave up, his loud curses giving way to murmurs and rants. The signal was already green by then.
“I have given you 5 rupees. Please leave us alone”, I said, trying to sound commanding, with my stomach rumbling with fear, underneath. When the man refused to move an inch, I took 100 rupees from my wallet to put it on the bowl. He was holding the bowl in his left hand and the snake in his right. Now he caught hold of my hand tightly. When I tried to pull it away, he took the snake an inch closer to my face, with my eyes staring at the snake’s. In all likelihood, the snake could have been a poisonless snake, used just to intimidate people, but who knows? Who’d dare take the risk of grabbing it and throwing it onto the road?
The man wasn’t satisfied with 100 rupees. His target was the Gold ring on my right hand. He tried his best to remove it from my finger, It was tough to remove it, with me having clinched my fist real tight. At this point, the auto wallah started to accelerate the vehicle slowly and I don’t know what struck the man, he jumped out of the Auto, with my 100 rupees (105 rupees in fact), with all 3 Gold rings safe on my fingers.
That was the last day I wore Gold rings to Office.