Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vendors of Dreams

There are vendors and vendors of dream in the society. The Politicians sell dreams of Utopias. The builders sell dreams of heavenly abodes. They describe the dreams they offer in such attractive

terms that people suspend their judgement and go in for them.We see long queues of voters at polling booths on the eve of elecftions clutching the Voter's I Card in had patiently awaitig their turn

with distant dreams in their eyes. We also see them at the Estate Agent's office or at the sites seeing with blown up eyes the ready sample flats and the towering minars rising skyward there.Both

these vendors are respected members of the society and an opportunity to talk with them is considered as an honour.

However, the vendors of lottery tickets by the roadside is not looked up with great respect even though he offers an opportunity to make millions with the investment of a few rupees. Even if you

were to loose that much change through a hold in the pocket you may not even think twice about it.I am talking about State Run Lotteries not some lots thrown by charltans.Though I find that even

there are queues of people furrively making payments and receiving a token of sorts whose only authenticity is voluntary and which will not stand scrutiny in a Court of Law.However, it is found that

none of these vendors, whether it is a State Lottery or Playing Figures the vendors are not much looked up to and in fact are looked down upon though the offers made by them are concrete and if

you win you are entitled to and will get the prize amount. In fact, lottery tickets which are declared winners could be deposited in Banks for encashment. The'matka' transaction are cash.However,

in spite of such reliability the vendors are not looked up to very highly. And,in fact, the 'matka'walas are treated as downright criminals.

I run a lottery stall by the roadside. Usually such stalls are run by roadsides or at a nondecrept place in a shop.Even if some of our customers have won lakhs we continue to be the same vendors

eking out our life on the marginal commissions that we get on the sales. Of course our customers at the time of making the purchases from us are perhaps no better financially than us which may

perhaps be the reason why they go in for the lottery tickets hoping to get a break from the stranglehold of want. Most of our customers are regular/. If somebody drops out we know that he must

have made his millions and does not feel any need to make such roadside purchases. From the result sheets we can see that a ticket or tickets sold by us has won the race and even if the customer

,unless he is a regular one, we may not be able to recognise by face. Some who make marginal wins do show up and thank us for giving them the winning ticket.

But I met some customers who will always leave a mark on my memory. They did not win millions. Such never showed up and we do not blame them for that. It is not,as it ware, that we signled out

the precise ticket that would win and gave it to them. In point of fact the choice is enirely theirs. Some are guided by combination of figures, some by auspicious nature of the time of purchase

etc.However, there are some who make who make it good,may be even marginally, do share their joy with us for which we are thankful to them. Of course we have not done much.Just sold a ticket
for money. We did not and cannot give any concession on any size of purchase. And yet we feel good. I sometimes think of those great souls who work for others without expecting any

remuneration and also make their lives. How very fulfilled they may be feeling. I had attended the felicitation ceremony of one such Great Soul and with all the life of thousands hehad helped to

improve he was saying,'I am sorry I could not do much for them!' To tell you the truth, even if we are not legally not entitled to any commission on the sum won we earnestly desire that the winner

would give us something. I won't call them beggars for in a way they are the ones who feed us. In fact,if anything,the appellation would fit us more.

And yet when we come across some people we are flabbergasted.They are needy no duubt which is he reason why they went out and purchased the ticket hoping to get some help through it. And

yet there are some great souls, yes there is no alternative nomenclature for them,great souls who breakaway above the water they are drowning in and extend a helping hand to anoher being

drowned.When you learn about them you will also agree.

There was a regular customer of mine. He was a poor man wih a brood working as a cook in fesivals. He used to win marginally on some occasions.One day when I went to erect the stall I found

him with his family members waiting for me. He waied for me to complete my insallation and then offered me the ticket he had pufchased from me a few days ago. The customers usually approach

me for finding out the outcome of he purchase. I took up the ticket and looked into the latest result sheet received. I was glad to find that he had won a nice sum ,not too high,just nice. I

congratulated him and offered to encash it(as we usually do) or else...' 'I knew I had won!' He beamed 'from today's papers. I just wanted to confirm it."He said gleefully and would I please give him

the cash. I gladly gave it. And then the unforeseen happened...
He touhed my feet,made his wife and children also to follow sut despite my protests. And...
As if this was not sufficient he took out a nice sum and offered it to me for my selling him the winning ticket!
Of course I am a businessman,may be a small one and I could certainly used that money and found it useful. But I was ashamed to accept them. I could see his entire family before me-thefamished

look, the dirty clothes, the torn saree on his wife.I vehemently protested against it. But I saw that he was hurt so for his satisfactioin I took just one rupee and returned the rest to him . I could see the

tears in his eyes. I immediately swerved sideways because I rfound that my eyes were also welling up.
To avoid any further embarassment I told him in dry tones that he may now please permit me to open my stall.

A yet anoher customer of mine,perha;ps it would be difficult to call him a customer for he made only one puchase from me,came to me once. I observed one old couple passing by my shop. They

stopped abruptly before my stall. There appeared to be some argument going on. Suddnly the old lady walked u;p to my stall stamping her feet. She addressed me
'Now you tell him,Baba.We have Laxmi fetching water in our house.And this guy wants to purchase a lottery ticket. What difference even a Million rupee prize would make to us? Tell him.Hehas

crossed sixty and his intellec has become knotty!"
She certainly had a point and a strong one at that. Of course the prospect of losing a prosective custmer rather made me nervous! Before,however,I could symtaxise the words the old man lifted

teburden on my soul
"But just because we purchased a ticket does not mean wegot a prize.Isn't it? If we do we can distribute it to the needy. Can't we?"He confronted me.
Therewas no alternative for me but to confirm it. But the old Momwas not to be outdone," Well, we can do it with our own money. Or even more than this prize !"
After some going ahead and filling in took place the missus agreed to the purchase subject to the stipulation that ,if won, the amount would go to her for distribution.Agreed.
That was that and also that was not that. Lady Luck could have helped her compatriot by ensuring that theticket would not draw any prize. But did not oblige. The ticket won a modest prize.I

received an invitation to attend a function for the disposal of the prize money. He had invited the managers of some philanthropic instittions and hedistributed th prize money suplemented with

some of his own money equally among all. My contribution to it was NIL. However, I somehow felt myself blessed that I have, may bde just a wee bit,helped in this donation.

I,therefore, am not at all ashamed to run this stall by a nondecipt roadside. Such people indeed paid me more,much more than the cost of the ticket. I am still inrigued if I am feally entitled to that credit.

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