A story from multiple perspectives
“You’ll have to change the address.”
He raised his eyebrows at her.
The bank staff looked at them and sighed.
Monday, noon-ish, at the branch. That’s when I saw them.
The Mr. sat with a bunch of papers that the Mrs. helped him leaf through. His movements were slow and shaky, hers were composed and sure. Both were 70-plus, seated on a row of chairs, fused together by steel rods. Each chair was a separate unit and yet chained to the other. Without one, the other couldn’t exist.
Chairs, tables, desktops and, now, face masks sat between them and the clerical staff. The Mr. sat on the chair and would fish out papers from a transparent plastic file and hand it over to the Mrs. She would then walk, in sure slow steps, to a desk with a notice asking “May I help you?” The lady at the desk asked her to get different papers. Denied of a chance to sit down, the Mrs. turned back dejected and walked to the Mr, again in sure, slow steps.
‘’She can’t update the home address.”
“But that’s where we stay.”
“The house is registered in Tushar’s name.”
I got called by the staff and moved away. When I looked next, the Mr had removed more papers from the plastic folder that the Mrs. took back to the lady. The Mr. stared straight ahead at them and waited impatiently for their conversation to begin.
I was irritated at him for sitting there and not going to the counter himself, till I saw the walking stick next to him. There was also something about his gait, the gait of an ill man. I turned my gaze towards the Mrs.
Like an obedient child, the Mrs. sat on her chair and heard out the lady. Her wrinkled frown told me she wasn’t happy with the outcome. She got up, then decided she wasn’t walking back. She sighed, looked at the lady for help. She took over and shouted out to the Mr.
“Sir, your son has a separate account.”
The Mr. started to say something, then paused. Finally he shouted back.
“What can we do?”
“Change the address in the Aadhar card.”
“ That’s our home address.”
“But you now stay with your son, right?”
The Mr. didn’t agree or disagree. He blinked his eyes, as the rest of his face remained hidden behind the mask. Finally, he reached for walking stick.
This was the cue for the Mrs. She walked back, helped him up and collected their things. Before they ambled out, the Mrs. turned towards the lady who had been helpful, but couldn’t help. their masks firmly on their face, they nodded at each other.
“They will be back next week, same time”, the officer across my desk told me in a light voice. I turned my attention towards the receding couple – Mrs. and Mr. SBI.
Mrs. – Change the address
Mr. – No. Change the son.
The bank staff looked at them and sighed.
The Mr. was armed. Be it the 1948 ration card or his dead mother’s angioplasty report – the records squatted like battle tanks in files/folders on the chair next to him. Despite it being a busy Monday, nobody from the SBI staff challenged him. Clearly the Mr.was nobody’s fool.
The Mrs. came up to him.
Mrs. – Need ID proof.
Mr. – They didn’t have that for so many years?
Mrs. – They want to update it.
Mr. – Now? When I’m like this?!
He glared at her. She didn’t flinch, His days of glaring and daring were long gone. Calmly, she reached for the folders. He shooed her away.
While searching for the papers, he threw dirty scowls at people. Tired and irritated, she.sat down. He fished out the papers just then. She sighed, took the papers and went back to the staff desk. They talked as he watched. Finally his patience gave way. He shouted:
Mr. – I want to change my address.
Staff and Mrs. stopped their exchange mid-way. Mrs. looked at the staff for help.
Staff – Sir, we need address proof in your name.
Mr. – But it’s my son’s house.
Staff shook her head at the Mrs. The Mr. added:
Mr. – He also banks with SBI.
Mrs. returned before Mr. could tell the very interested crowd his family banking history.
Mrs. – She told me we can change the address on the Aadhar card.
Mr. – Will she do it?
Mrs. – How can she do it? Tushar can apply on his computer.
Mr. – But the address on Aadhar is our house address.
Mrs. – Now we stay at Tushar’s address, right?
The Mr. didn’t agree or disagree. He blinked, the rest of his face hidden behind the mask. Finally, he reached for the walking stick.
Mrs. helped him up and collected the files. Before they ambled out, the Mrs. turned towards the staff who had been helpful, but couldn’t help. Their masks firmly on their face, they nodded at each other. That’s when he turned and shouted at the staff.
Mr. – Can I change my son?
He turned and walked away with her support — Mrs. and Mr. SBI.