Zaheeb Ajmal reports:
11:45 a.m.: Pradeep’s wife Shanti enters the Sargana branch of the State Bank of India in yet another attempt to open an account in the bank. She is clad in a red saree over which she has wrapped a shawl. Although she veils her head, one can easily discern the vermilion mark in the parting of her hair. The bank is far less crowded than the last time she was here, earlier this month: only six people are standing in the queue for depositing cash and four people are queuing at the withdrawals counter. Another four people sit around chatting with the office boy. Shanti approaches the clerk responsible for dispensing bank account forms, and requests for a blank application form- a feat she was simply unable to accomplish the last few times she had come to this branch. However, the clerk, a man in his early thirties who wears a jacket and a pair of jeans, shakes his head.
Clerk: Your account cannot be opened today.
Shanti (bewildered): Why?
Clerk (looking back down at the sheaf of papers on his desk): It’s the end of the year. There’s too much work to be done.
[I thought this rather strange. The end of the financial year is in March. Perhaps the clerk meant it was the demonetisation deadline by which all old high-denomination currency notes were to be either deposited or exchanged for new ones.]
Shanti (flustered): So when should I come?
Clerk (continuing to look down at the documents): Come back on Tuesday.
Shanti: Will it get done on Tuesday?
Clerk (looking up at her irritably): Of course! Am I not sitting here? Don’t you worry.
Shanti leaves the bank, as dejected as the last few times.