ATM By Dr. Tulika Sarkar


  • Creativity and Originality
  • Writing Style and Language
  • Plot and Structure
  • Character Development
  • Readers Appreciation
3.8/5Overall Score


Mr. Nabin, a retired man, receives an ATM card from his son. Excited, he explores its possibilities with his wife, Paromita. However, during his first ATM withdrawal, a mishap occurs, leading to a tense encounter with the police. The incident triggers reflections on the complexities of modern life. In the end, Nabin decides to cherish simple joys and values over the conveniences of technology.

Mr. Nabin signed the registry envelope. Then, he gently took out the ATM card that had been enclosed in the letter. He carefully examined both sides of the card, inscribed with Nabin Ghosal’s name. These cards had become his passion lately. His neighbor and friend, Shankar, often used the ATM when they went out together in the afternoon. Nabin was sure he did it to show off. Nabin, too, wanted to use ATMs to withdraw cash and make purchases using his card.

Mr. Nabin was a peace-loving, non-violent, and reserved man. After forty years of service as a ledger keeper at Samanta & Sons, he had retired six months ago. His salary had been average, but he managed to secure a bank loan and enroll his son in an engineering program. They lived comfortably in a rented home. “You don’t need to wait in line at the bank to withdraw money, dad; I’ll get you an ATM card,” said his son, who now worked at an IT company.

Now, he held that card in his hand. “Look, this is my ATM card,” he exclaimed as he showed the card to his wife, Paromita. “I can withdraw money whenever I want. I’ll withdraw 500 rupees and give Shankar 200 rupees as well.” After saying this, he joyfully hugged his wife.

Paromita was a simple woman. Though she was delighted by Nabin’s sudden excitement, she still felt shy. “Aren’t we too old for this kind of affection?” she said. “Don’t forget we’ll soon be in-laws.”

“That’s true, my love. I was preoccupied with work when we were young. Now, after so many years, I don’t understand,” he sighed.

Paromita’s heart swelled with pride for their son. “Is this card loaded with cash? Did our son do this? Let’s go to the jeweler’s shop then. I’ve wanted to wear earrings like my sister for a long time.”

In this middle-class environment, Nabin couldn’t always fulfill their wishes or live a life of luxury. Paromita never complained, but during their happy times, he made an effort to fulfill their requests.

“Heard about money laundering through ATMs?” Chaudhury asked during their tea conversation. “Someone cloned my brother’s card and stole 36,000 rupees from his account. These cards come with significant risks.” Nabin fidgeted, wanting to speak about the difference between debit and credit cards, but he refrained from asking. He had put up with Shankar’s nonsense for a long time, but not anymore. Shankar couldn’t properly raise his son; his son worked as a broker in an insurance company, while Nabin’s son was an engineer and used the company car to commute.

The conversation about money laundering continued over tea. Shankar exclaimed as he flipped the card, “What a surprise! Now you have a debit card from your son. Good for you. But I have a credit card. Use yours with caution.”

Nabin was happy to see Shankar envious. Despite wanting to know the difference between the cards, he kept quiet. He couldn’t bear to listen to Shankar’s explanations anymore. Instead, he rejoiced in having a card of his own.

As he inserted the card into the ATM in Ichhapur to withdraw money for the land deposit, Nabin’s hand shook with anticipation. To his shock, numerous 2,000 and 500 rupee notes poured out from the machine. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He counted with a hint of sweat on his fingers, “Twenty-eight… thirty-two… thirty.” His heart pounded loudly. He felt relieved and continued counting. Exactly thirty thousand rupees, and he was unsure what to do with the remaining 20,000 rupees. Just then, a man with sunglasses entered, and Nabin hastily left after packing the cash in his bag. Had he entered the wrong amount? He received no messages from the bank on his phone. A few notes were stained. What if Debabrata refused to accept them?

He wanted to report the issue and exchange the stained notes at the bank, but it was closed on Sundays. He worried if the notes were fake and if he’d end up in prison for unknowingly using counterfeit money. He felt helpless and unsure about what to do next.

As Nabin was walking, a police van pulled up next to him. A police officer inside the van asked, “Did you just withdraw money from the ATM?” Nabin was scared but protested, “What’s the problem with that?”

“Threatening the police? Let’s go to the police station!” the constable scolded him and took him to the van.

At the police station, the chief asked, “What’s your name, and where do you live?”

“Nabin Ghosal, sir. I live at 11, Elgin Rd, Sreepally, Bhowanipore.”

The chief was surprised, “You live in Kolkata and came to Ichhapur to withdraw money? Don’t they have ATMs in Kolkata?”

“No, sir, I came here to pay the land deposit.”

The chief frowned, “Your answer seems rehearsed. How much money did you withdraw?”

“Ten thousand.”

“Liar! Put the cash on the desk.” Nabin hesitated, but the chief threatened him, so he complied.

Nabin’s heart raced as he knew there was more than ten thousand rupees in the bag. The constable said, “This guy is quite clever, sir. He won’t be honest with you.” The chief got up and shouted, “Didn’t the message reach your ears?”

Nabin put the money on the table and said fearfully, “Sir, there’s thirty thousand in there.”

“But you said you only withdrew ten thousand? Did you bring the rest with you?”

Nabin caught on and said, “You’re right, sir.”

“Is that so? You’re a forger then. According to the informant’s report, more than ten thousand rupees was withdrawn from that ATM.”

Nabin insisted, “I’m telling the truth, sir. I requested ten thousand, but the machine gave me thirty thousand. Believe me, sir.”

“You also tried to bribe us? What do you mean by leaving the rest here? Do you think you can fool the police into something? Tell me who else is with you.”

Nabin pleaded, “Please give me the phone; my son gave it to me. I’m not involved in any fraud, sir.”

“Ratan, give him a little treatment; he’ll talk soon.”

As Nabin grew more desperate, his phone rang on the chief’s table. It was his wife, Paromita, calling. The chief asked, “Who is this? Another accomplice?”

“No, sir, it’s Paromita, my wife. The name is shortened. She has high blood sugar and pressure. If I don’t answer, she’ll be worried.”

“Oh, a family man, I see. Whatever I thought.”

Nabin protested, “What did you think? I come from a respectable Brahmin family. I served 40 years for Samanta & Sons Company with integrity and reputation. My

 son is a software engineer working in Bangalore in a high position.”

The chief said mockingly, “I won’t let you go just because you can speak a little English. Your engineer son is the mastermind behind all this drama.”

Nabin felt insulted and angry. When the constable moved toward him, he shouted, “Save me, Paromita! They’re going to kill me!”

Suddenly, Nabin woke up with his heart pounding. He took some time to adjust and walked to the balcony. The new day had begun. He realized that his dream could have turned into a reality, with him potentially facing jail time for forgery. Life had become complicated. In their time, life had been simpler and kinder. Now, the modern era was dominated by machines, and man had become their servant. He decided that he needed relief, not convenience, at this stage of life.

Excitedly, Paromita exclaimed as she exited the jeweler’s shop, “The earrings are exquisite. But you promised to use the card to visit the large retailer.”

“Of course, we need to buy jewelry for our daughter-in-law. Let’s enjoy a sweet beverage together now.”

On Sunday, Nabin arrived at Ichhapur station and hailed a rickshaw. He felt at ease, and today, he knew they would finally have a home of their own. “Let’s go, brother,” he said to the rickshaw puller, making sure he had 10,000 rupees in his pocket.

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