Dec 15, 2012

Fish and a bait - a true story

The sun shone directly above the head announcing the arrival of noon without wasting anyone's time looking at their watches. The last person in the street disappeared into one of the houses giving the street a deserted look. No one dares to take the wrath of the noon sun. "This is the time conmen would make an attempt", the police commissioner alerted the Trichy residents, "for they will be able to rob and leave without anyone to notice".

Pankajam finished her lunch and was about to take a midday nap when she heard the bell. Her instinct warned her to call the police and see who the caller was.

"Hello, Grandma. My name is Saravanan", he introduced himself with a sugar-coated voice when she answered the door, with a safety chain latched. She took a closer look at him. He appeared to be in his early thirties, neatly dressed in formals, two carton boxes in one of his hands and a briefcase in another.

"What does the briefcase contain?", she wondered. "I do not remember anyone named Saravanan. What do you want?", she asked him, her voice raised giving away her fear.

Pankajam was eighty-three, a widow who spent most of her time in solitude watching tv or sleeping. Both her son and daughter were married and settled in their respective lives. When they insisted to stay with one of them, Pankajam decided to spend her last days in the house that was built brick-by-brick by her husband. She survived with the pension money provided by the government after her husband died a decade ago.

"Grandma, I have come here to help you", he said. "I am a sales executive. Our company had recently launched a new product specifically for old people to help them preparing food faster with no extra effort", he explained. 

He showed one of the carton boxes to her and asked if he could demonstrate the product. Without waiting for an answer, he opened the box and took the induction stove outside.

"The induction stove helps you cook food in no time, Grandma. You can sit comfortably watching your favorite serials on TV while the stove cooks your food", Saravanan canvassed for the product.

"I don't need an induction stove. I already have one", she said.

"Look at our fingers grandma. There are five of them, but each one is different and serves a different purpose. Our company product is certainly different from the one you already have", he replied, without even bothering to have a look at the model she had.

"I am still not interested", she said.

Saravanan felt disappointed, put the stove inside the carton again and was about to leave when he said, "I'm sure you aren't interested with the freebies that we are giving to promote sales of our product too".

"What freebies?"

Saravanan knew that the fish had caught the bait. He opened another carton and took out a few vessels.

"As an introductory offer, we are giving you a complete set of cooking vessels in three different sizes and a non-stick tawa for free. You only pay Rs. 4200 for the induction stove and the complete set is all yours", he said.

"Rs. 4200? No way", she bargained. They finally agreed to Rs. 3500 and struck a deal.

Pleased with the bargain, she offered him for the first time to come inside her home and have a seat. "Show me the freebies, or else I would not trust you", she demanded.

Saravanan opened another carton from which he took out a set of kitchen utensils, three of them in different sizes, all made of stainless steel, a non-stick tawa and spread them in front of her.

Satisfied, she asked him to remain seated while she went inside her room in search of her purse. Rs. 4500 is all she had, from ten years of savings she had from the meager pension amount that is just enough for her to survive. She carefully counted Rs. 3500 with denominations in hundreds, tens and even a few coins, put the remaining amount back into her purse, locked it in safe and came out.

After collecting the money from her, Saravanan said, "I forgot to mention about a lucky draw Grandma", sensing how far he can carry the fish with the bait.

"What lucky draw?".

"There is a good chance for you to win another induction stove with a complete set of freebies, free of cost", he carefully prepared another bait.

"Oh! Really?", she gaped in amazement.

"Yes, Grandma! I would let you know if you win the first prize. But you must promise me to pay the remaining Rs. 700 if you win", he added. "Please have my card. It has my mobile number. Please feel free to call me anytime if you have any problems with the product", he said.

The induction stove worked perfectly and cooked her food really fast. Pankajam was only happy that she had bought a good product with a bargain. But her happiness did not last for long. The stove started making troubles after its honeymoon phase.

"The stove is not heating up even after a long time", she called Saravanan and made a complaint. "I will come to see you today itself Grandma", he assured her.

That afternoon, Saravanan came to attend her problems with the stove. "Customer satisfaction is our motto, profit comes only next", he said. "Let me take the stove and ask our technical representative to have a look at it, Grandma. We will replace the product with a new one if you are not satisfied with our service".

"How long will it take for servicing it", she asked.

"If we could not get it ready by tomorrow, we will give you a new product", he replied.

When he was about to leave, he said: "Grandma, by the way, I heard that your purchase has got the first prize in the lucky draw this month!"

"Wonderful", she exclaimed.

"Now that you had won the first prize, would you please give me the remaining Rs.700?", he reminded her of a promise made earlier.

"Wait a minute", she said, went inside, took Rs. 700 from her purse and gave it to him. "When will I get the gift?", she asked him.

"Tomorrow, along with your own purchase", he replied and left.

After two days, Pankajam tried calling Saravanan at his mobile number for the umpteenth time. "The number you are calling is currently not reachable", is all she got as an answer to her calls.