Seema Roy and her elder son Pintu at their Malda home on Friday. Picture by Surajit Roy
Malda, Jan. 20: Shock, shame, relief, forgiveness, gratitude, dignity and hope tinged with nagging doubt – a forgotten bag with Rs 23 lakh today sent two families on a roller-coaster ride of emotions.
A bidi supplier and construction material trader from Murshidabad today staked claim to the cash in the bag, which was found in a train and reported by Seema Roy, a cleaning lady, at Malda Town station.
Shahjahan Biswas said he was travelling with his nephew Matiur Rahman from Sealdah to Malda yesterday in the Gour Express. The 34-year-old nephew apparently left the bag behind by mistake.
The uncle said his nephew was “shocked and ashamed” at his “carelessness”.
“We had boarded the AC coach on Wednesday night with seven bags, including the one that contained the money to buy land. I had asked Matiur to look after the bags. We got off at Malda station and headed for our home. It was only late last night that we realised that one bag was missing,” Shahjahan told The Telegraph.
“My nephew is in a state of shock. He is so ashamed at his carelessness that he is not even speaking to me. Ours is a family business and Matiur, being my elder brother’s son, is one of the owners,” Shahjahan added.
Several attempts by the newspaper to speak to Matiur failed as he did not take the calls.
Once the loss sunk in, Shahjahan contacted local Congress MLA and municipal chairman Krishnendu Choudhuri. “He told us not to worry as he had learnt from the media that the money had been found and deposited with police and that he would take up the matter today,” Shahjahan said.
Shahjahan said there was “no question” of scolding Matiur. “It is as much his money as it is mine. Besides, these days if you scold a youngster you don’t know what he might do. You hear all these tragic stories of young people taking their lives after bring scolded.”
Shahjahan said he was “grateful” to Seema, who has to look after two sons with her Rs 9,000 monthly salary. She got the railway job after her husband passed away.
“I have come to know that her elder son is unemployed. I am willing to offer him a job in my company and give her a handsome monetary reward. Her act of honesty is rare these days. I will meet the family and thank them,” Shahjahan said.
For Seema, life continued as usual today. Cooking food on an earthen stove in her one-room tiled hut in Malda’s Coolie Para after returning from work, the widow said she had “no expectations” but her unemployed 24-year-old elder son would be “very happy” to get a job.
Seema said she was “simply being honest and doing my duty”. “I have no expectations from anyone. I may be poor but I am honest. I have dignity and prestige.”
HOPE AND DOUBT
Told of Shahjahan’s job offer, Seema said: “First let the offer be made to us, then we shall see. Rich people make a lot of promises. But I’m sure my son will be very happy if he gets a job. I did whatever I thought was right. I have made no demand in return. I have nothing more to say.”
Ravindra Kumar Gupta, the manager of Eastern Railway’s Malda division, said Seema would be given a reward of Rs 2,000. “She has made the entire Malda division proud.”
Shahjahan today visited the office of the Government Railway Police in Malda town to claim the Rs 23 lakh. The police asked Shahjahan to apply to the district court to get the money back.
“I have submitted a challan issued by our office in Calcutta stating the number of thousand and five-hundred-rupee notes in the bag. This can be matched by the court with the contents of the bag,” Shahjahan said.