Harbinger of good news

One of the first persons I befriended on settling down in Madras, now Chennai, was our postman. Those were the days when we solely depended on postcards, inland letters and telegrams for communication. My father would send me money either through Demand Draft or Money Order, and I would look forward for the postman to deliver it. I drew comfort from the fact that he spoke in Hindi and was from Kanpur, the city I too hailed from.

On one occasion, I was anxiously looking forward to a mail from an institution which had to refund a deposit placed with them and, despite reminders, continued to harp on the same tune that the instrument had been dispatched. To get a duplicate instrument, the formalities listed out were one too many, starting from a request letter to execution of an indemnity on a non-judicial stamp paper and so on. Being cash strapped, and that too at the end of the month, besides running out of patience, I would call on the postman everyday, for I considered him my harbinger of good news.

One morning, the familiar sound of the bicycle bell drew me to the front gate. The postman had a cover in his hand and wanted know if it was the one I was looking for. The cover had my name sans initials and a couple of lines scribbled below that — an apology for address. Some good Samaritan in the postal department had in red ink marked on it ‘Try Chennai - 600044’ and that was the cover my friend had in his hand. The relief on my face was all too obvious and my friend pedalled away with a smile.

Soon, I joined the services of a public sector bank. There I wrote the CAIIB examination which, if passed, would fetch one three increments besides seniority in service. During the time of examinations, two places that I would generally frequent without fail were the temple and the post office. So, as was my habit, I started frequenting the post office when the results started to trickle in for some of my colleagues.

One day, the postman told me in strict confidence, “Relax, all is for good if the communication is getting delayed. From what I have seen over the last few days, all those who received the envelope have either failed or managed to clear just one or two of the papers.”

One fine morning, he was at my doorstep demanding a treat. Seeing the familiar envelope, I knew my result was in his hands and wondered how he knew its contents. “It’s a professional secret, but as you are my friend, I’ll risk sharing it with you. One big advantage the window envelopes have is that you can always steal a glance,” he said giving a ‘Priya Varrier’ wink!

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Harbinger of good news

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