Lid off the Secret Stash

How can anyone forget the evening of November 8, 2016, when the P M Narendra Modi stunned the nation with his big-bang announcement on demonetization? Nobody could have imagined that the date with Mr. Modi, his unscheduled address to the nation would turn out to be the epicenter of a massive earthquake sending shock waves all through the nation, affecting the lives of all Indians- men and women, rich and poor.

‘Old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 will not be legal tender from the mid-night.’ I was too shocked to react and register the implications of the announcement. As the reality sank in, I started rummaging through the umpteen pockets of more than a dozen of hand bags, purses and wallets that I have in different colours and sizes. I delved into each and every pocket, every nook and cranny- not just to unearth old notes but also to search for the smaller denomination notes and coins as well. Never in my life had I felt so happy to see a hundred rupee note. Even the soiled tenners suddenly became valuable. Why not, these small notes and coins were to be our life-line for the days to come the face of a severe cash crunch.

There was another mission, a mammoth task to accomplish; to search for the old high denomination notes hidden in different corners of the cupboard, in between the folds of the dresses. I started hunting frantically for my own ‘secret treasure’ that I had built over a period of time. The ‘treasure hunt’ was to search for my hoarded cash, the undisclosed money that I had been stashing away from my hubby’s gaze. As the notes kept tumbling out from their hide-outs in front of my husband, my secret treasure was no longer underground, but was out in the open.

At a time when I was feeling somewhat guilty for my unaccounted money (not disclosed to my hubby dear), I got validation from the most unexpected quarters. I happened to overhear conversation between my domestic help Kusuma and the part-time maid. In a hushed tone, Kusuma was telling that she had twelve big notes about which her husband had no information. Bala raised her five fingers to indicate her secret hoard. I realized I was not the only one! Almost every woman has her own secret hoard of cash, big or small. The note ban had taken the lid off their secret money.

Can’t say to what extent demonetization had been successful in flushing out black money, but, undoubtedly, it brought in the open hoard of cash women kept hidden in secret corners. I don’t know how many sleepless nights the hoarders of black money had, but women definitely lost their sleep as they had to come clean on whatever money they had secreted away.


(Published in The Tribune on Nov. 2017)

7 Replies to “Lid off the Secret Stash”

  1. Hello Ma’am

    Such nicely told stories. They hold the reader’s interest very easily. Remind me of the old Saturday Extra pull out of Tribune where Khushwant Singh would tell anecdotes, sometimes as a commentary on contemporary issues, in his column This Above All. I started reading them at 11 years of age and found them very interesting even then! Your posts have a similar effortless quality and a very honest and fluent style. Really enjoying them. Looking forward to more!


  2. Aastha , wonderful to hear from u .
    I mysef had been an ardent reader of ( now defiunct )The Illustrated weekly of India in my growing up days . And its editor used to be Khushwant Singh.
    Will be looking forward to your comments

  3. How true Rama . A living example was myself who unearthed a windfall ( a few thousands is a windfall for me ) during the spring cleaning post demonetisation . My hubby was delighted as he had a chance to get one up , whilst I was getting nightmares . But honestly I don’t think demonetisation was of much benefit to the economy as I believe majority of the grey money found its way into the banking channels . Clearly the poor suffered as an outcome of this initiative .

  4. True Anu , demonitization failed to meet its objectives.
    But this piece has been written in a lighter vein. Anu , your experience is on expected lines .
    Haa haa ..
    As if I was really smart !

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