She had been lying there in the corner of the cold dark room, surrounded, suffocating with the others for what seemed an age. It had been a long journey, and now that the fatigue had worn off, she tried to move to look around at the others.
“Why has there been no movement for so many days? More and more keep coming and adding to this space?” She spoke into the darkness.
“Where are you from? Don’t you know why we are here?” The voice that responded sounded tired, but authoritarian.
“I have come from very far. I was looking forward to some change and movement. You see, I had lain at the bottom of a can full of rice for more than a year. Then a few days ago, a sweaty palm picked me up. I saw sunlight after eons. I was placed near the bosom, and along the way I was nearly deafened by the pounding of the chest. For an age, I remained there, while the cool breeze gave me some relief. Evening fell, and I was pulled out and placed with some others, in the cupboard this time. Next morning, the same sweaty palm clutched us and again we waited. By evening, another hand took me. I landed in a vehicle, was brought here,and for more than two weeks have been lying here. Waiting to move again.” She waited for a response.
“Oh, I had come out of the ATM some time ago. I was so happy to be in that wallet. It was taken out many times, I saw the sun, the city and even heard music in the car. But two days later, I was back in this dark damp corner, and no one seems to move me around anymore,” a younger sounding one lamented.
Another one was lying shriveled and wasted, “After years of keeping me in a sack in a windowless basement, one morning they threw me, with others in the sack, into the river. Many around me were torn, I escaped. After floating for two days, I was picked up and thrown here with others.”
“Will someone tell me why we are lying here, not moving for the past two weeks,” she yelled out from the corner.
“We have been demonetized dear 1000 and 500 notes. Don’t you know?” The authoritarian one announced. There was silence around the large vault. A small rustling began and then the cacophony began to grow. In the din the common question was, “What does that mean?”
“Quiet. Listen. It is simple.Your value now is not even worth the paper you are made of. You cannot be used for any transaction anymore,” the tired voice of authority spoke again.
A silent sadness swept the confines. A stillness came upon all of them. “Just like that we become worthless? It is unimaginable,” She was whimpering in her corner. Crestfallen, she relived her days of glory when she had so much value that the woman had hidden her in the rice for years.
One spoke from a bundle that had just been added, “No No, we are still being used in some shops, and some are even using us on the side. You can’t say we have become worthless!”
The authoritarian one laughed, “this is only for a while. Soon this use for us would also be over.”
“No, we should not let that happen to us.” The one who had ridden in the wallet cried out.
“What are you saying, we should resist or revolt? Is it possible?” the one from the river asked hopefully. They were all quiet, waiting for some response from the darkness.
“When will we gain value again?” the one who came from the wallet gave voice to the question that was hovering around.
“Never. New ones will come to take our place. Our day in the sun is over.” The authoritarian one who seemed to know a lot answered with a sense of finality.
With a clink and a tingle something fell from the top of one of the safes. It was a freshly minted ten rupee coin.
“You know we smaller guys are the ones with value today. The tens, twenties, fifties and hundreds. They are hoarding and saving us. It is a great feeling. They are not even giving us out in change for the new 2000 that has come.” The coin giggled as she announced.
“Oh a 2000 has come. That means it is the end of the road for us 1000 for sure.” A new voice said.
“Yes that seems to be the case. They have come out with a new and revamped 500 also,” the coin informed.
Gloom descended on the dark, stuffy vault. They all sat there bunched together in depression and sadness. The coin rolled, flipped and darted all over.
“Oh come on all of you. Don’t be so sad. Value is a very ephemeral thing any way. It changes all the time. Did not your value change vis a vis the US dollar all the time? Even those that you served valued you differently did they not? For some you were the reason for their existence, others did not run after you that much, and then there were those who barely subsisted on the few of you that came their way. Come on guys – don’t be so sad.” The coin said, feeling bad about her giggle a few minutes ago.
‘Its alright for you. You still have value. We have none.” The younger one had envy in her voice.
For a while the coin was quiet, she did not know what to say to the dying generation.
“But may be some decades down the line, when some of you are auctioned as rare pieces, you may be valued many times over. It recently happened with the notes that were demonetized in 1978. Guys, cheer up. Value is a relative thing. Remember that!”
The door to the vault opened, another bundle came and joined them.