Vinod had his account with the bank at the ground floor of his office building. It was manned entirely by ladies except for the security.Vinod never made use of ATM or credit card facility. The reason is not far to seek as to why he loved to visit the bank so often. It is not by any design of his that an extremely good looking lady happened to be the teller but that was the reason for his daily visit. She was around 27, quite efficient and businesslike. Though she smiled, her answers to Vinod’s questions were brief and to the point. This did not deter him from trying to cultivate her. He informed her unsolicited that he worked in the same building and that he was an engineer and in good position. Sometimes he would talk about the weather and of the overcast sky. She would just count the money and hand it over with a smile. But the pleasure of seeing her once daily was adequate recompense for the trouble he took.
Vinod had gone with his mother to a book fair on a Sunday. It was a huge fair drawing heavy crowd and on this day it was unmanageable. The weather was oppressive in the mid summer. With poor ventilation and narrow corridors, it was smelly and hot. His mom bought some religious books while he went for some cheap editions of old classics. It was nearing 8pm and they had covered more than half the fair.They heard cries ‘Fire, fire’ from one side and there was a mad scramble of the visitors for the exit gate even though smoke was coming from one corner. Soon the fire spread and engulfed larger areas. The unruly rush became a stampede near the exit and it was by luck that Vinod found an opening on the side to take his mother out. Someone had cut the power and the whole place was plunged in darkness. He could hear the bells of the fire engines rushing towards the different sides of the fair. In a short while the fire engines were dousing the fire and the shop keepers busy in salvaging the books. Most of the visitors had left except for idle and curious onlookers. There was utter confusion, smoke and shock
By the time he located his car in the darkness, it was 9pm.As he got into the vehicle, his mother shrieked from the other side and said ”Vinod, come here, I find a young girl sleeping on the ground near the door.”She was about five fast asleep. Obviously separated from her guardians she had strayed in the darkness to this place and fell into slumber.
“Mom, shall I leave the child with some policeman? You be here. I will come soon” Vinod said
“No, it is a girl child and it is night time. It is not desirable to leave her with some policeman. The girl looks from well to do family. Let us take her home and leave a message with our area police station that we have brought the child home and give our address and phone number. The missing parents would eventually find their way to us” she said.
The next day morning the little girl started crying when she woke up to the new surroundings.Vinod’s mom had gone to a temple. The child could not tell precisely where her house was located though she gave the name of the play school.Vinod decided to take the girl to the school, when the phone rang. It was from the police station informing that the girl’s mother was coming to Vinod’s house along with a policeman. The girl was tidied up, given milk and some toys to play with.Vinod was playing with her to keep her in good humour and the little girl took to him instantly.
The bell rang and the girl rushed to open the door.Can you guess who was there with the policeman? You did it right. None else than the teller at the bank in the building where Vinod worked. For a moment both were rendered speechless. It was broken when the girl rushed to the arms of the lady telling “Uncle is so sweet but did not know to play even in simple games.”
Both broke into laughter.”I am Vinod.Please come in. Mom should be here very soon. Lucky that we could find your daughter sleeping last night near our car. Should I say doubly lucky?” Vinod said and sent the policeman away after thanking him profusely along with some money.
“I am Archana.Thanks a bunch. I am indebted to you for ever for bringing her here and keeping her safely. I see you daily at the bank. Why doubly lucky?” she asked with a smile
“Mommy, can we take uncle with us to our home? I like him so much” the girl intervened
“Don’t worry little girl, I intend to drop you both at your place and meet your daddy” Vinod said
Her mom’s face fell . She said” My husband was killed at the Kashmir border three years ago. I am living alone with my daughter”
“I am very sorry. Can you wait for a few minutes? I want my mom to see you” he said even as the girl snuggled in his arms.
When driving them home, he asked with broad grin in the face. ”Should I explain why doubly lucky if you have not guessed it already?”
She looked at him and made faces before breaking into a smile. A love was born.