A play is about the hilarious events, which follows after a clerical error while processing a life insurance policy. How will the claimant get the money? Read the play by Subhadeep Banerjee to find out.
At the office of the Immortal Souls Insurance Company Mr. Handa a senior agent handling life insurance is talking to a customer named Professor Swaminathan Iyer.
Handa: My dear Prof. Iyer, I would like to congratulate you since now, you are our valued customer. We here at the ISI Company have taken over the charge of your life’s dreams… and also beyond… as you know we – The Immortal Souls insure our clients from their life to their afterlife!
Iyer: This is indeed very reassuring Mr. Handa.
Handa: And you also know that our monthly premiums are among the lowest in the insurance industry… If you can put your signatures here on the consent form, I shall hand you over your policy document.
Iyer: Certainly. Just one question… Have you added my wife Lekha’s name as a nominee?
Handa: Dear Sir, everything has been done as per your instructions. We assure you of our best services…..but would… you also not consider adding your minor son’s name?
Iyer: Very well Mr. Handa, as you suggest… then kindly send me the revised policy format with my wife and minor son’s name as nominees.
Handa: So the final sum assured amount will be that of Rs 50 lacs?
Iyer: That is correct.
Handa: I am sure you will have a long life Prof. Iyer.
Iyer: Oh so nice to hear! So… are you also an astrologer since you are so sure of my long life? (teasing him a bit)
Handa: Ehm… I mean, you are after-all in the pink of your health… I had carefully gone through your medical records sir…..you see we have a good screening process for our clients… Everyone in the family should have life insurance.
Iyer: Yes you are right. Indeed who knows what may happen tomorrow… without proper life insurance the dead may become bhatakti aatmaas.
Handa: Yes yes; you have a good day sir.
End of Scene
Ten years later Prof. Iyer has passed away well inside his life insurance term cover and his widow Lekha is now meeting Mr. Handa at the ISI company office to claim the policy sum assured.
Handa: I am sorry to inform you madam but you cannot claim the sum assured.
Handa: According to our records the nominee is a MINOR… at least was so… at the time of proposing the policy… see here for yourself.
Lekha: What is wrong with you… I… the wife… AM the nominee…
Handa: Wife? or son?
Lekha: Wife Wife! … see for yourself…
Handa: But it also says that since nominee is a minor she will have to produce form nos. 21, 109, 1001 and an affidavit stating that the person has become a major in case she has.
Lekha: A minor wife? How can someone’s wife be a minor? (thunders)
Handa: Hmm right… (thinks)… well why not?
Lekha: What do you mean?
Handa: Your husband MUST HAVE done child marriage!
Lekha: You idiot! (screaming)… see here my marriage certificate…
Handa: Sorry madam sorry… (looks at the certificate)… I CAN see your date of birth… but madam… now I cannot help you… according to our company policy… any change in nominee details can only be done by the policy holder.
Lekha: Can I not get an affidavit from court saying that I, so and so and the nominee of this policy are the same persons?
Handa: I don’t know madam… as per our company policy the monies can only be given to the nominee… who in this case was a minor wife… the ISI company will only entertain a minor wife… I mean one who was a minor then.
Lekha: One thing for sure I know now I was NOT a minor wife and YOU are a COMPLETE IDIOT!
Handa: Sorry madam… my apologies… but we need a minor wife… I am deeply saddened by the loss of such a great soul like Prof. Iyer… what noble thoughts… what great conversations… oho… oho!
Lekha: I shall see your company in consumer court! (thunders out)
End of Scene
Lekha has an appointment with Advocate Carriappa in his chamber
Carriappa: Madam I can understand this is a clerical mistake from their side… but how shall we prove this in court?
Lekha: Mr. Carriappa, can anybody’s wife be a minor? It is a matter of common sense…
Carriappa: No madam no… the law does not work like that… still so many child marriages are taking place do you know?… You have to prove on paper that the insurance company made a clerical mistake. But how?… (ponders)… your late husband had also signed on the policy without checking he is also equally liable.
Lekha: But we did not do child marriage!…
Carriappa: Well… I know… (grinning and a pause)… on second thoughts… perhaps you should have (teasing and grinning)…
Lekha: Mr. Carriappa please take my case seriously sir all my records will prove that I was an adult at that the time of our wedding.
Carriappa: That is precisely the problem… by any chance… did your husband have any other wife also bearing your name… who was this minor… huh? did you… know everything about your husband for sure? (grinning).
Lekha: No no!!!… I was his only wife! It is only common sense… if there were any other wives then would she not have filed any claim to his house now?
Carriappa: Common sense is not so common here madam… it needs proof… you know only last month in Court. THREE women were claiming to be the wives of one individual finally it was proved that none were so. Do you know how we figured it out?
Carriappa: All of them produced the SAME false marriage certificate in court… they all had the SAME DATE ON IT… now one man cannot marry 3 times in one day right? And… what to say… it was yours truly who spotted the evidence and rescued this man!
Lekha: So what can you spot here sir?
Carriappa: Frankly… nothing (grinning)… unless you become a minor wife… oh you may want to seek compensation from the government under the Child Marriage Prevention Scheme for your sufferings in a child marriage due to which you lost your childhood and your dreams… we will have to create a fake marriage record for you to pass you off as a minor during your wedding… please do consider me for a small share of the rewards… (grinning)
Lekha: But I DID NOT HAVE A CHILD MARRIAGE!… and I had a beautiful childhood… So you want me to create a SCAM because I cannot claim what is rightfully mine… I see Good Bye!
Carriappa: Good bye madam, anytime you need me, just remember my reputation, I am advocate Carriappa.
Lekha exits. End of Scene
One evening in his office, Handa is talking to himself.
Iyer: Good evening Ms. Handa…
Handa: That was a familiar voice… but I don’t see anyone Yes who is it?
Iyer: Well very good evening Mr. Handa!… Can you see me now?
Handa : (Surprised) Who is this… wait… Oh Prof. Iyer!… But… how come? You are dead, right?
Iyer: The show has ONLY begun my dear!
Handa: But… I don’t watch horror shows!
Iyer: This is not a horror show my dear… but only a small talk.
Handa: But are you not dead?
Iyer: Well now I am back from dead! To claim my AFTERLIFE insurance!
Handa: I see… well!
Iyer : (thunders) Not at all well! The nominee was NOT a minor wife… you were supposed to include my minor SON’s name!
Handa: I know… I am sorry…! But if I admit it I will lose my job!
Iyer: Then I will send many ghosts each time to claim all their AFTERLIFE insurance… remember your company’s ad line? Insurance from life to afterlife!
Handa: Sorry but I can’t do anything now!
Iyer: But I CERTAINLY can!… How would you like to die Handa? Out of fear or out of panic?… I can arrange for BOTH if you wish!
Handa: No no I don’t want to die, please help me!
Iyer: Oh! help? Okay, I will bring with me another one hundred ghosts all of whom you cheated and they will also claim their afterlife insurance. And, we will curse you to remain an insurance agent in your next seven births!
Handa: No no please, please, please do not do any such thing… I promise to never cheat anyone again… ok ok one thing is possible… just fill in this form 9 with a self-declaration by the nominee to correct the mistakes in the original policy. Just take this form and give it to your wife. I don’t know how you will but just do it and spare my life!
Iyer: See such a simple solution exists but yet you were not revealing it… just to cover up your clerical mistake…
Handa: Sorry sorry… but my God what a ghastly show you are putting up!
Iyer: Hmm… for now you may be excused… but if you play any more tricks and delay the payment… your ghastly nightmares will be for REAL! Good bye Handa!
(At Lekha’s home, her son walks in and wakes her up)
Lekha’s Son: Mom, please wake up it is late in the evening!
Lekha : (shocked) Huh… who?… oh its you… oh so… what did I just see? Where is Handa?
Son: Handa? Who? What are you talking about?
Lekha: (confused) well, never mind… that means I was just dreaming all along? (upset)… but wait! How come this form 9 copy is here? Who brought it here? This must be some ACT OF GOD but a UNIQUE one for which NO insurance company could decline the coverage! Some people CAN work wonders even in their AFTERLIFE. Now some dreams WILL turn true. Thank you Swami.
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Subhadeep is a scientist by profession, who also has a flair for creative writing. He is an associate professor of chemistry at BITS PILANI Goa. His debut historical fiction novel THE HIDDEN PATRIOT is available on amazon and has been well-received and reviewed positively by readers.