Article of faith

It was an incredible journey of not just a sheet of think paper, but of trust.

The present day generation may not know what a money order is. For us it was a fascinating postal instrument that ferried our money to someone who was far, far away.

All that one had to do was to go the post office and ask for an MO form. The clerk would then handover a thick long sheet free of cost. Filling it up was a bit confusing because we did not know for sure what to write against payee’s name. Is he the one who sends the money or the one who receives it?

Many a time we used to write our name against payee’s name thinking that one who pays is payee. It was our simple logic. But English is not that simple and we did not have MO forms in Kannada because demand for Kannada had not picked up momentum then. The clerk then would give us one more and this time we made no mistake. At the bottom of the form there was some space to write out a message – mostly to state the purpose of sending the money.

Once you handover the filled up MO form and the cash you got a receipt and the job ended there. It was now the responsibility of the PO to reach out to the payee, yes the payee, and handover the amount, collect his signature on the form you have filled and send that portion back to you. Thus the MO form did a three pronged service – hand over your money and your message to the payee, get a receipt from him, and send that receipt to you as confirmation of completing the job.

We found it intriguing  that  the MO form, which we filled up, reached the payee wherever he was — in Leh, in Ladakh or Chirrapunji in Assam or Koteshwar in Kutch – and he touched it himself by signing it and a portion of it came back to us, all the way again. It was an incredible journey of not just a sheet of thick paper but of trust and integrity. True there were cases of misuse but it was more of an exception. I still remember the first MO I received. It was from my father as pocket money. I was in college when the postman walked in and sought me out. The entire class chorused ‘oh’s and ah’s’ as I walked out to sign the form and get the money. It was just Rs 5 - but a princely sum then because it fetched 20 famed masala dosas of Vidyarthi Bhavan!

Today things have changed. It is the electronic era and the humble MO has come of age and is now called eMO. It is no longer a thick sheet but an A4 size paper. There are codes for different messages and all that one has to do is to tick the appropriate message box in the eMO form. Money for treatment of illness, money for payment of loan, money as humble offering to the god, money for books etc. – there are 21 reasons to send money.

The payee no longer handles, at the other end, the form that you have filled and a portion does not come back all the way to you as the humble MO form of my times did. Yet, in these days of tele banking and mobile banking the MO has survived in the new avatar. The only hope of old age pensioners who look forward to it every month.

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