Sometimes, a series of occurrences brings out a fact or a hidden lesson. Strangely some days are such.
One day a lady heard a fruit seller calling from the road ‘Mangoes, fresh and ripe, come and buy.” She went outside, leaving her house work, to see an old man pushing a cart laden with Golden mangoes of an excellent variety. In India the mango is considered to be the king of fruits and in the beginning of the season it is quite expensive too. She asked him “what rate, would you charge?” He said, “Rs.40/- per kg”, She asked him to give her 10 kg.
He took out a small rusted weighing scale and put a 1 kg measuring stone on one side, “She said, don’t you have a 5 kg stone? It will take so long, to weigh 10 kg with this!” He said, “No ma’am, but I’ll do it quickly.” She said, “I have an electronic weighing machine inside, why don’t you give me 10 kg approximately and I’ll weigh them inside.” He put the mangoes into two polythene bags and handed them over to her. She turned to go in and said, “Won’t you come in and see the weight for yourself, lest I cheat you!”
He said, “What if you do, I would be poorer by a couple of Rupees, but you would become a cheat! You do it on your own, I’ll stay here.”
When the lady narrated the incident to her husband he remarked, “usually, this clan of road side vendors are cheats! They charge you for 10 kg and give you nine and a half or even less. But surely this man had character.”
That afternoon, the woman took her daughter to the stationer, to buy her a pencil box. The shopkeeper showed her an array of pencil boxes, simple ones and magnetic ones, cloth pouches and magic boxes! They selected a simple box, because mother explained to her daughter that the fancy ones would get spoilt sooner or later. As she was about to make the payment, she noticed a small bulge in the pocket of her daughter’s skirt. She asked her, “What’s there in your pocket, Nandini?” “Oh! nothing Mom, just some candies,” The look on the child’s face told her mother that she was lying. She put her hand into her daughter’s pocket and drew out a fancy looking pencil sharpener. She went red with embarrassment. She noticed that the side shelf over the counter was full of fancy erasers and sharpeners. She asked, “Why did you, steal, Nandini?” “Because, you never buy me fancy stuff!” came the answer. The mother put the sharpener back on the shelf and said, “I’m sorry, for my daughter’s conduct, I’m glad I noticed it before I left the shop”. The shopkeeper said, “It’s okay lady, I noticed what your daughter did, but I chose to keep quiet. You look like a respectable lady and I thought, I should not put you to embarrassment.” That, hit her even harder. By now the little girl was sobbing. The kind shopkeeper gave her a candy and said, “Don’t cry child, here take this. Next time you want something, you must tell Mama.”
The lady put the candy pack on the counter and said softly, “Please do not give this. Let not my child feel that there can be a reward for stealing. I’m really very sorry about this.” They drove home in silence. The mother was very upset.
After dinner, they decided to go to eat ice cream. Father stopped the car near a road side vendor. All of them took icecream of their choice. The bill was Rs.115/-. Father handed over his wallet to his wife and she drew a Rs.500/- note to hand over to the young icecream seller. He said, “Madam, I do not have change, please give me the right amount.” She rummaged through the wallet and was able to find only Rs.55/-. What should be done? Finally she said, “Our home is in next lane, we’ll just go home and get you the money. For how long are you here?” The man said, “Madam I am here till midnight. You can come before that.” “By the way what is your name?” “My name is Hrudaya!” said the icecream seller. So they sped off towards home to get the money. In a couple of minutes they were back. She handed over the balance amount of Rs.60/- to him. He said, “Madam you paid me Rs.50/- earlier, you owe me Rs.65/-” She said, “No, I paid you Rs.55 earlier.” He kept quiet. She was very sure that she had paid him right, but she did not want that there should be any doubt in the young man’s mind.
She fingered through the coin holder in the dash board of the car and took out coins totalling to Rs.5/-. “Here,” she said, “take this, may be I was wrong.”
He hesitated and said, “suppose you have already given me the right amount. I don’t want to take any extra payment. I just want what is due to me.” She pressed the money into his hand and said, “It’s okay brother, don’t think about it.”
They moved away from the spot. But she knew that “Hrudaya” had a heart of gold and so did the man who sold the golden mangoes.