So, let me start by saying – I am a born workaholic and I get shit scared of ghosts! With these two premises in place it will be easier for me to explain what happened then and how.
I used to be a banker a few years back (though the popular adage “once a banker, always a banker” still holds true as also the new age fact – when bankers have nothing better to do, they turn to writing… yes I am referring to me too ;-)). I worked with one of the biggest and best multinational banks in India, that commenced business from the good old city of Joy! As my colleagues of yesteryears would vouch, I was a good, hard-working, motivated employee; and the fact that I am a workaholic really helped. After two years of hard work I was given my dream posting in the flagship branch of my bank. I was thrilled and decided to make this new position count.
My branch manager was happy to have a young enthusiastic kid (yep 15 years ago I was one!) in his branch and he went out of his way to teach me everything that I needed to know to become a great banker. That worked wonders and soon I was the most sought after banker in my branch. A pet of all the seniors, I never said no to any work – a trait I learnt from my mother. Very soon, I climbed up the ladder in the bank branch (no – it was a single storey branch so please don’t get those weird ideas in your head), and was promoted to the inside space. The inside space held the elite officers of the branch who dealt with the high net worth clients of the branch. I was euphoric since this was a dream job for me and put in the extra hours at work. I lived at a hop skip and jump distance from the bank branch and that helped my zeal of putting in the added effort. All in all, it was fabulous, until that day…
Many of you who have either worked in a bank or have held accounts with the premier banks would know that the security in a bank branch is very tight. Not in terms of security personnel and gunmen outside the branch, but the wired security, cctv cameras etc., A bank is also home to some of the most expensive jewels, property documents, legal as well as… erm… illegal stuff in the vault, so it is heavy guarded with alarm systems as well. A small mishap triggers security alarms at the security companies who in turn relay it to the main officers of that particular branch, as well as the important officers of the bank. Safety at its highest, no wonder my parents allowed me to work in a bank in the first place!
Alone, locked inside her bank, she finds help from unexpected quarters #bank #latenighter Click To Tweet
On that fated day, I was heavily loaded with work; and it also happened to be a Saturday. Those days, we worked on Saturdays as well and it is usually a very heavy day for bankers; as all office goers get a Saturday to complete their banking transactions. It was always a fun day for me because I met some of my favourite clients, who often dropped in just for the free coffee in the ‘elite’ section that happened to be my haven. Hence the real work only happened after banking hours and honestly, since I loved what I did, I didn’t mind staying back. That day, for some reason most of my colleagues left in good time; while I burnt the midnight oil! The branch manager (BM) is usually the last one to leave and he checks the entire branch before locking it. I have no idea where I was when the BM left too! Perhaps in the pantry/ washroom… I can’t seem to remember. But I didn’t notice that I was the only soul in the branch, with all the work on my mind and hence went back to my seat and got completely engrossed.
Sometime later, I realised there was NO noise anywhere inside the branch. There was pin drop silence and I felt a chill down my spine. Suddenly, all the ghost stories that my colleagues spoke about in the branch came to my mind and I was nervous as hell. Actually nervous is an understatement. I quickly walked out of the elite area to see if there was anyone else in the branch and… started shitting bricks! There was no one and I was locked inside the branch. I panicked, thinking about the free spirits now roaming around, freely; perhaps just next to me and wanted to hide under a table. I thought I should knock the ATM door, but I knew the security guard would be outside and would not be able to hear me. Damn! I didn’t even have his number, nor did I know if he had a cell phone.
I started sweating and ran into my cabin. Picked up the phone and tried calling the BM. As luck would have it, he did not answer. Who the hell answered cell phones on a Saturday evening, that too from an office landline, post 7 p.m. I didn’t blame him, but that didn’t help my case either. I was sweating profusely by then and realised my clothes were already wet at the back. I decided to call home and inform them, they would be able to help. Immediately I decided against it, because they would panic and anyways, they would be of zero help. They didn’t have the branch keys. Those days, no one really shared their cell phone numbers so I didn’t have the numbers of most of my colleagues. I swear at that time I felt someone pass by my desk, and I couldn’t move a finger – that’s how scared I was. I started saying the Hanuman Chalisa aloud (not only was it my regular prayer, but Hanumanji is supposed to help you ward off evil spirits as well). I closed my eyes and prayed continuously. I know I should have tried reaching out some other staff members as well, but the hysteria of the ghosts around me painted some horrible pictures in my photogenic mind, and none of those looked like Casper!
I have no idea how much time lapsed and I thought I heard some door open. I wasn’t sure whether I was dreaming or it was a reality, even if it was a reality, was it the ghosts of the branch and the building that held this branch? Totally petrified, I gathered the courage to open my eyes and walk out of the elite area. To my utter surprise and complete bewilderment, I saw my BM. I blinked and wiped the beads off my forehead. I squinted and knew it was him standing there in flesh and blood; and ran and hugged him tight, also cried in utter relief. He hugged me tight too and I realised he shat more number of bricks than me and in a way was more relived to see ME! Why and how was he here??
It seems the ZICOM guys (the company that monitored our bank security systems) called him. Like me, they tried reaching him on his cell phone. He hadn’t answered their call as well; but the lucky guys had his home landline number which he couldn’t help but answer. They yelled the words, “Where are you? Your branch seems to be locked but there is movement inside the branch; please rush there immediately while we inform the police. They will also be there within ten minutes.”
Movement inside his branch was the scariest thing he had ever heard and he left his dinner at the table and dashed out of the house, thinking there was a robbery in progress. He lived very close to the branch and was there within minutes, even before the cops arrived. No wonder he was so pleased to see me. But the words ‘movement inside the branch’ were like poetry to my ears, the best thing I had heard in ages and god bless the ZICOM folks, I said a secret prayer for their wellbeing. My BM knew my miserable state and after we locked the branch, he decided to drop me home. Ofcourse, the BM also promised me that he would never ever leave without double checking the branch in future. With the comfort of that promise, I looked back into the branch to see if there was anyone else too before locking it, bid good-bye to whoever it was who ‘moved’ inside apart from me and ran out; happy that the next day was a holiday and I didn’t have to come back! Ofcourse, I also swore never to work so late in the branch ever again.