This article belongs to Sweet Grace column.
Some fifty years back,
Every State was competing with the others by offering varieties of prizes for different digits of the lottery ticket numbers. Even if your last digit was correct, you got a small prize which perhaps was a little less than your investment. Nevertheless, people indulged in this public gambling happily because the waiting time made you dream to be a millionaire if God willed it.
I was never a believer in this game at all.
Anyway, the lottery project started showing kinks as years rolled by. Over fifty percent of the low income group men folk was known to be investing fifty percent of their income on lottery tickets hoping to turn into millionaires overnight. The wives started complaining loudly. They felt, that lotterying was as bad as drinking. Many States abolished the scheme completely and made ‘sale of lottery tickets of any
My old time friend PK, a lottery addict, came down to Chennai to spend his retired life in the southern city. Oh! How dejected he felt at knowing that Lottery was a prohibited game in my State. "Why did I choose Chennai for my retired life? " he lamented..
Then came a day when I had to fly to
You cannot hurt old time friends and so I agreed. No, he didn't give me any advance money. PK said he would reimburse the amount. My job in the far off
So, I got down to the business of locating this lottery shop called, Som and Home which is around Chandni chowk in Old Delhi. After about a kilometer of walking and when I couldn't locate this S & H, I sought some help from the passersby. "Oh,Som..? It's just over there," one friendly pedestrian said pointing a finger in a westerly direction. Alas! It was a sweetmeat shop.
Then I encountered an elderly man with scorpion like moustaches dressed in an impeccable safari suit. He was tall and imposing and looked a perfect gentleman. He spoke in polished English. I told him that I was from down South and was on the look out for a shop named Som and Home. "Som and Home" he repeated. "What's their business, brother?" he wanted to know. I felt touched when he called me ‘brother'. His esteem went up sky high in my view. "He is a lottery shop owner, Sir" I said in equally respectable English.
"WHAT?" he yelled out. "Lottery ticket shop, you said?"
I nodded somewhat trembling inside me at his tone and tenor.
The safari suit halted for a while, sized me up and down with fire emitting out of his eyes. "Lottery tickets, eh?" he bellowed at me like I had mentioned the unmentionable.
He positioned himself right in front of me and remarked, "You a pensioner?" "Yes"
"Now, go back to wherever you have come from. Stop wasting your precious money on lottery tickets, understand? Now, get lost…." he screeched out. I tried to argue with him that the tickets were for … for … PK and not for me.
He wouldn't want to hear a word more from me. He raised his hand and commanded me, "Out". I felt like a small little fellow standing in front of a no – nonsense type elder brother. "Go back.." he ordered again.
I had no alternative but to retreat to my hotel, pack up and head for the airport.
It was an evening flight and I reached Chennai at
Early on the following morning, PK rang up and asked when he could collect his
Prize winning tickets. "PK, I jut got up. Sleep is still on my eyes. Shall I ring you back after an hour or so..?"
I called him around "PK, I looked everywhere and I couldn't trace the tickets, my friend. I must have left them in the shop itself. There was a big crowd there, you know?"
How to tell him, an angel of light prevented me from buying those darned tickets. I thought it was better to tell a lie than to let PK suffer a loss of some 5 dollars.
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Israel Jayakaran (Sweet grace)