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Here, she was, feeling all superior to all the others when she didn’t even know the simplest of things. She felt like she was pushed down a cliff and was lost!
Mrs. Joshi was complacent- educated with a full-time job, she was also doing her PhD. Her family was extremely supportive of her choices. She and her husband shared all household chores and expenses. There were times when she needed to work long hours and didn’t need to worry about her family. Her children were intelligent and hard-working.
She had invested money, so she could go on holidays with her family, only her husband or even with her friends. Being a working woman, she wore clothes she wanted and was comfortable in, and no one objected to it. She could cook but since work involved going out early, the groceries and cooking was taken care of by her MIL.
In fact, she truly believed that she was a liberated woman. She could drive, change a wheel, do minor repairs around the house. Since her sister worked in a bank, her savings and earnings were invested wisely. Her company also had a CA who looked after all her investments.
She had a license and three credit cards to her name along with her voter id card, Aadhar card. Her medical insurance and LIC policies were always up to date. And she also owned a car, a flat and a small farm.
To make sure she had friends around, she had also joined three kitty groups. She believed she wasn’t a snob but she did pity her friends from the kitty group since most of them often only complained- either about their husbands or their MIL. Often, she felt superior to them and made it a point not to discuss such “feminine” topics with them.
Life was good for Mrs. Joshi and she was pleased with herself till that fateful month in 2016 when certain incidents opened her eyes.
It all began with a small annoying thing. She had gone to buy some clothes and when she tried to pay for them using her card, it was rejected. The cashier told her it wasn’t working and asked if she would like to pay in cash. Refusing that, she handed him another card, which didn’t work either.
Since her card wasn’t working, begrudgingly, she paid in cash that she thankfully had. As she walked back to her car she thought, “Just how careless can these bank people be! There’s enough money in my account, but they just don’t know how to use them. Really, just having computers is not enough. They really need to train the people to operate them.”
Once she got home, she complained to her husband about the car. He heard her rant for a while, then asked her to show him the card. Once he saw her card, he quietly told her that it had expired.
“Expired? What do you mean, expired?” she was stunned.
He showed her the card, “See here it says valid up to. And today is two days past the validity. So the card won’t work.”
“This is so irritating and typical! Shouldn’t the bank people tell us to get it updated?” she all but yelled.
Her husband was incredibly calm, “You should be the one going to the bank and applying for a new card.” Before adding, “Did you really not see the validity?”
A little abashed, she shook her head, “No.”
Two days later, she was embarrassed again, this time because of her driving license. While she was on her way somewhere and in a hurry, she was stopped by a traffic police. She impatiently whipped out her license and handed it to the officer.
“Oh, Madam! This has expired,” he said, shaking his head.
Thankfully, her husband was with her and told the policeman that they had applied for a renewal and showed him that receipt. Red-faced she drove on. She remembered her husband telling her to renew and that he had done it online.
Later in the week, during their kitty, the talk turned to credit and debit cards and, to her surprise, the women seemed to be aware of everything. They talked about Visa and Master cards and which could be used on foreign trips. For once she kept silent, simply absorbing everything.
Suddenly there was a loud crash and the lights flickered. “He received a shock!” someone screamed. As they started to rush in, her friend, the one whose house they had gathered in, ran to the verandah. “Typical,” thought Mrs. Joshi, “Running away.”
The women trooped inside to find that the worker who was repairing a cooler had received an electric shock and was thrown down. Just then the owner came running in, “I turned the main supply off. Is he okay?”
Though he appeared fine, they sent him to a hospital with the driver.
Mrs. Joshi was unable to sleep that night. Here, she was, feeling all superior to all the others when she didn’t even know the simplest of things.
“Where is our main electric switch?” she suddenly asked her husband.
“What? Which? Huh?” he was startled.
“Our main switch. The one we would turn off if someone is electrocuted?”
“What brought this on?”
Thus, out poured everything, “I used to believe that I was educated and better than them. But here I am, unaware of even the smallest of things! I feel so small.”
“No need to feel bad about it. You know so many things they don’t. All you need to do is keep your ears and eyes open. Being a working woman doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of other things. You sister invests for you, you are educated. But have you every asked her how much she invests?”
“How can I ask her? She is not going to misuse my money. Why do you always say bad things about my sister?”
“Why do you always think negatively? I meant, you ask her because you should know where your money is going. Tomorrow, if she is unable to do your investments, you should know how to do. She may have to go to the USA for six months to take care of her daughter and her delivery. Who will take care of the bonds, then? You trust your sister, but do you trust her assistant the same way?” he asked her, ever the voice of reason.
She looked at him, tears in her eyes, “It’s like I’ve been pushed down a cliff. People are definitely going to stop respecting me now.”
“Now, come on! Don’t be so dramatic! It’s not that big a deal. See, I’ll help you. Get your purse. See, here’s your license number, take a picture of this in your phone. Next, see this card, it expires next month. Let’s apply for the new one soon.
“Now do you know your Aadhar and passport numbers? Make a note of them somewhere. So even if they get lost, you can apply for new ones with these numbers.”
“What else should I know?” she asked, now eager to learn.
“Let’s see, your LIC policy numbers, everyone’s blood groups in the family and their birthdates. How and where do we pay the electricity bill, the water bill, the phone bill and the municipal tax.”
“I know!” she bounced excitedly one the bed. “This could be a game in the next kitty! I could make a list of questions and see how many are answered.”
“But who will check the answers?”
“Answers are not important. But if we can manage to make the girls aware of these things, it will be nice. Now don’t disturb me. I am going to make a list of questions.”
Here is her list of questions. How many can you answer?
Do you have your birth certificate given at the time you were born, not the school or the college one?
You may know how to drive, but do you have a license that’s valid? Do you have a Aadhar card, PAN card, passport and a voter’s id? Can you lay hands on it immediately?
Do you know the expiry date of your Licence and passport?
Are you aware of your blood group?
What side of the city do you live in- north south, west or east?
Do you know the ward number of your residential area?
Who is the Corporator of that area?
Under which Police station does your area come? Where is the police station located?
What electricity pole do you get your electricity from? Where are the electricity and water meters in your house?
Do you know the main electricity switch in your house? And what switch to turn off if you want to switch off electricity in your house?
What direction does your house face? Who are your neighbours?
In case of an emergency, do you have their contact details?
Do you have an emergency medical kit in the house? Can you do basic first aid?
How many banks do you have an account in? What kinds of accounts are these? Do you know the account numbers and the minimum balance you need in the account?
Can you write a cheque/fill an NEFT form/withdrawal slip/request a new cheque book/update your passbook without asking for help?
If you have an LIC policy, do you know the number and the premium you pay? Do you know how much sum is assured in your LIC policy?
When you get your credit card statement do you check if all entries are correct?
Do you know your credit card number? Is it a Visa or a MasterCard? Do you know its expiry date?
How much money do you have in your account? What’s the main branch of your bank?
Do you know exactly where all your family members work? Is it a salaried job or are they entrepreneurs? Do you know their exact designation?
Who is their boss? How many people are there in their team?
Do you know if your family members have any illnesses? Who is their doctor? What medicines do they take and their blood group?
Do you know the full names of all your household staff and where they live?
Are you sure they are who they say they are? Is there any identity proof you have of theirs?
Do you have their emergency contact number? And do they have your emergency contact numbers?
How many of these could you answer? Do let us know in the comments below!
Picture credits: Pexels
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