Telegrams were always associated with urgency and more often than not, emergency for us during my childhood. My first recollection of anything to do with a telegram when I accompanied my father to Suri Post office from where he sent a #telegram to his office or boss intimating his inability to join work after the sanctioned leave period with a request for extension of leave. Natural , because we had been to our mother's place during my vacation.
Two telegrams are very close to my heart. One sent by my uncle which read - BABLU P 1ST DIV.That was about me clearing Matric board. Naturally again , I was enjoying the summer and the mangoes at my mother's place.
The second one was from #SBI informing my appointment as a PO and directing me to join Alipurduars branch for my first posting. That begun a chain of events leading to my nomadic existence till now.
Well, in those days money was transferred by telegram messages and these were called TT in short. Only authorised officials of the bank, generally not below the rank of Accountant could authorise the TTs under a code which was generated by an instrument resembling a toy with sliding layer of metals with holes on them in rows accompanied by a metal spoke. It used to be kept in the handsafe under the #custody of the designated officer along with a book of codes , which if not maintained properly could wreak havoc. Such was the aura and importance of the TT code and the responsibility ascribed to it that lesser mortals , meaning junior officers avoided it but craved for it internally.
Me ,the eternal fool always treaded the ground which the angels didn't . So naturally , with my uncanny gift of landing into trouble,uncalled for and unnecessary , I found myself gravitating towards Mr Badal Choudhury in the evenings while he affixed the codes to the TTs prepared by the Head Clerk. Mr Choudhury , may God bless him,was the accountant of SBI #CoochBehar Bazaar branch and the most powerful figure at the branch off course after the staff union secrtary. The Branch Manager , poor soul was always kept on the tenterhooks by these two persons, whom he considered villains in his otherwise tranquil life of exile away from the powercenter of #Calcutta. Actually the BM had confided this to me, in a moment of unguarded anguished moment when he lectured me on his glorious past.
Digression aside, Iet me return to TT . Now BC spotted the eager talent in me thirsting to be fitted on to higher responsibilities. He was at his #avuncular best as he took pains to introduce me to the world of TT messages and its codes. Bursting of self importance I learnt it in no time and within two days,I was able to gain confidence for myself and the accountant. BC stroked his thick bushy beard and congratulated me for being the first person he had met in his service life with such a reservoir of talent. He then went to meet the BM.
After 10 minutes or so , the BM called me and asked me to take temporary charge of the branch# accountant as BC was proceeding on leave for seven days due to sudden illness of his wife. I was flummoxed by this sudden googly. Later I realised why BC was so generous to me. It gave him the opportunity to take sudden leave by passing on the onerous charge of the #branch accountant. And naturally , he always extended his leave , that too ,by a telegram.
Of all the TT codes , two were very common in #foreign #exchange transactions. They were YHACA and YJGUZ. One meant sale of foreign currency and the other purchase.
They have now decided to do away with telegrams. Maybe they are right in doing so. In these days of betting by WhatsApp messages, the poor telegram is a misfit. Like the postcard and the inland letter. I have myself not used any of them maybe for the last 10 years or maybe more than that. Other than reasons nostalgia and antiquity, they are not relevant in the modern life.
So after sharing our joys and sorrows by giving us the news of births and deaths , informing us of the imminent arrival of unwanted guests, keeping us posted of important personal milestones and being used to create innumerable dramatic plots for novels and movies, the telegram brings us the news of its own demise. Rest in peace.