A token of love
N J Ravi Chander
For someone who has clocked four decades as a banker, there is no dearth of on-the-job anecdotes. The below tale is one of those astonishing ones.
In 1978 Peravurani branch in Thanjavur District, under Chennai Circle, came out in flying colours in the deposit mobilisation campaign run by the bank. Bagging the top prize was a proud moment, as the branch had to vie with scores of other competitors for the accolade. The glittering cup stood out in the trophy cabinet and became the cynosure of all eyes.
The branch under the able stewardship of Mr Narayanan Subramanian, the Branch Manager, had proved its mettle repeatedly and given rival banks in the vicinity a run for their money. A grateful BM complimented his team for their efforts in reaching the apex of acclaim and urged them to keep up the tempo.
A Narikuruva (a jackal catcher by profession) who had availed a loan under the IRDP scheme for trading in beaded ornaments became curious on observing the joie de vivre prevailing in the branch and the trophy nestling in the BM’s cabin. He tiptoed into the room, glanced at the trophy post-haste, concluded his transaction, and left.
The news of the branch winning a cup soon spread like wildfire and reached the nearby tribal hamlets. The Narikuruvas, keen to present the branch with something grander, spared no effort to mobilise funds and pick a giant-sized cup from one of the best trophy shops in town. After business hours, they strolled into the banking hall and implored everybody to assemble.
Their leader Mr Soundarajan armed with the memento began singing paeans about the bank. He recounted how SBI had come to their rescue with loans when they were in dire straits even though the other banks in the vicinity had turned them away. Pointing to the trophy in the BM’s cabin, he remarked the branch deserved something more significant for finishing on top of the podium. The leader recalled that special day when the bank granted him a loan, and his daughter-in-law complemented this by delivering a baby boy.
The proud parents unbelievably christened the newborn as State Bank – changed to Dinesh Kumar in later years. In a voice choking with emotion, Soundarajan praised the bank for throwing its lot behind the Narikuruvas, enabling them to lead a life of grace and dignity. A few in the gathering found it hard to hold back their tears. Soundarajan’s old savings bank passbook, which makes a mention of the loan amount credited, has become the family’s prized possession.
Soundarajan brought the curtains down on the brief ceremony by proceeding to present the grand trophy to the Branch Manager amid much cheering and clapping. It was a moment to treasure, captured not on camera but by the mind’s eye. The tribals held the branch in high esteem, and this was plain for all to see. Reciprocating the touching gesture, the BM treated the gathering to bread cakes, crisps and beverages. The trophy presented by the Narikuruvas would count as precious as it had their gratitude and warmth written all over it.
(The author is a former banker. He writes for the Deccan Herald, The New Indian Express, The Tribune, The Hitavada, The City Tab, The Hans India and Kashmir Vision)