Good Business

There was a poor brother and sister who had lost their parents at a very young age. They used to live with their maternal uncle, who also was quite poor. Their aunt made them work more and eat less, they wore tattered clothes of their elder siblings.

Now, the seaside was their only solace. The pair would finish their daily chores and run to the nearby sea shore in the afternoon to collect sea-shells and pebbles, their favourite pastime, when their wicked aunt would be asleep, since none of them were sent to school.

One day it was rakshabandhan and both were picking up sea-shells and the sister said, “Brother, today is rakshabandhan, let me tie you a rakhi, and you give me some nice present.” The boy suddenly got carried away, he asked his sister to accompany her and took her to a nearby small market.

They went in one shop and he ordered his sister, “Pick up what you like best.” The sister, thrilled at the offer, picked up a pretty doll from the stand. The shopkeeper from a distance was watching the drama, “Will they run away, will she spoil it and put it back?” was his dilemma. The boy was honest, he went to the counter. He emptied the torn upper pocket of his big shirt and made a heap of sea-shells, he dug into his pocket and got a handful more. Proudly the brother looked at the shop keeper, gave a glance at his sister and said, “Take whatever is the doll’s worth and return the change.” The shopkeeper was aghast.

Every market has its politics, the competitor from the next-door shop was also sitting with him, chatting. He was also taken aback. He had always been a bit jealous of this wise shop keeper, he thought, “Today this so-called wise man will show his true colours.” But the shop-keeper was really a wise man. He thought for a moment and took a handful of shells and returned the other saying these were the change. The sister had tears of joy in her eyes and her brother tears of pride!

As the kids ran out happily, the nearby shopkeeper mocked the wise shopkeeper saying that today he had failed to do good business of which he usually boasted. But the wise man was but a wise man, he said, “Today after a long time I made a really good deal. The biggest lesson I taught the young boy is that even in today’s world you can get dolls for sea-shells. Imagine what will happen tomorrow when he will realize that he still owes those tears of happiness in his sister’s eyes! And this boy, I assure you, will be a big man. And if nothing else, I taught him a lesson of humanity which he will carry forward and someday it will come around. Remember, what goes round comes round.”

Needless to say, the boy did become a big man and returned with money to repay the shopkeeper the price of those tears in his sisters eyes. The nearby shop-keeper was still a small shop-keeper, since he never understood the lesson.