On the outskirts of Delhi is situated our Jhatikara branch under Najaf Garh block. Need not tell you about Najaf Garh as it has been made world famous by the cricketer Virender Sahwag.
But it was not so famous during the days I took over the charge of the branch. It had a staff of six people Nafe Singh being one of them. He had retired from the army & joined the bank as Guard. He was a disciplined fauji fellow, neatly dressed & punctual in attendance. He could easily relate to rural folk & used to guide them in opening of accounts, filling of deposit / withdrawl / loan application forms etc & hence was popular brand ambassador of the branch. In absence of peon he would gladly put the gun in the locker & start doing peon’s job as if it was his own job.
I got to know him better subsequently when he took me to his newly constructed home on a house warming lunch. It was quite a show with generator & loudspeaker giving a blast to filmy music & rustic dance. Menu of the day had rum & hot mutton biryani right from the ‘deg’ in one smaller tent, veg & doodh-jalebi in bigger one. Ladies were accommodated in third tent pitched a little distance away.
He narrated that they were Mooley Jatts who got converted during mughal period. But to retain their identity they suffixed ‘Singh’ in their names – Sultan Singh, Bahadar Singh, Shamsher Singh, Daryao Singh & so on. They did have photos of Mecca in their homes but at the same time celebrated Holi, Rakhi & Diwali as well. He had three sons two of them working as sub staff in ministries & third ‘looking after land’.
He informed that their substantial chunk of land has been acquired by govt & they were to receive good amount as compensation. Eventually a little over one crore was deposited in our branch which had shaken the regional office at that time.
Nafe Singh then discarded the ‘potli’ & purchased proper stainless steel lunch box. His shoes shined more & he started keeping pen also in shirt pocket. Customers started calling him Pardhanji & his son who ‘looked after the land’ purchased a maruti 800 car & a tractor. About 2-3 times a week he would come in his ‘mrooti’ along with his son to branch. And his car was the only car in front of the branch. Even branch manager did not have one. He requested:
-Saab aaj RM Saab se milwao, hum to Namaste karna chaate hain. Gaadi hajir hai Saab. Charan daalo Saab.
Over tea & snacks it was agreed that Nafe Singh shall try to bring more of such compensation being paid to others & that he will not be transferred from the branch till retirement.
Having extracted the promise of no transfer & having come to know the importance of deposits, he grew more confident with a touch of arrogance. Occasionally he will leave the branch early or come late as he had to contact ‘party’. Every time he brought deposits he will throw a party with all staff included in booze & biryani at the expense of depositors & brush aside all the objections.
Instead of uniform he now preferred to wear white pant, shirt & white shoes. Bit by bit he started bullying cashiers & officers also. He declared himself as branch secretary of the union & started meddling in union affairs. His voice was getting louder & angrier by the day. His face had a permanent frown & he smelt of liquor whole day. Now his car started coming daily & with a bottle or two of rum along with lunch box on the back seat. Some or the other shady characters always followed him. Barely 10 months after receiving the compensation, was he a transformed man!
It was a cloudy afternoon when he brought five of a family & deposited approx 25 lacs in different accounts. Evening party was organised as usual in Lucky dhaba. Party broke up early as drizzle had started.
Nafe Singh with his son was off to their home in 800. On the way they crashed nto a tractor trolley & went to their respective heavenly abodes instantly.