“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Respect for Money

It was late in the night and I had to catch the last bus home. I checked my pocket just before boarding the bus; short by 1 paise, for the 15 paise bus fare. I walked all the 6 km, not a care in the world except for the welcome at home I dreaded.
The year was 1972; I was in Trichur, in my 10th. It may seem ridiculous for the younger generation who may not have even seen the 1 ps coin, 2 ps, 5 ps, 10ps, 20ps and even 25 ps which have been since taken out of circulation. Even in 1972, 1 ps was the lowest denomination; I don’t think you could’ve bought anything for 1ps, except the most humble, handmade sweets. The incident taught me to respect even the lowliest amount of money. Because money is energy; and to throw away money is to waste energy.
Somebody stole K’s mobile phone a few days back. Smart thief; he neatly left the SIM card right beside the window through which he took the mobile phone. It was not a very expensive one; 4500+, I think. But K had loved it. I told him to get another phone. K vehemently said, ‘ Acha, I don’t want an expensive mobile, not even the same one’. I said, ‘Fine, you get one yourself’. But even after a week, he hadn’t bought any. He said, ‘You buy me one when you come to Bangalore next week’. ‘But till then I have to call you on your friend’s phone!’
Then K said, ‘Well, I wouldn’t mind the same model, but I don’t want to spend that much of your money either. I am in a Dilemma! I would rather if you bought me one’. I told him, ‘Look, there are much worse problems in the world. I don’t mind if you buy the same model; it is OK if you get a cheaper one, either. And what is this talk about ‘your money’? Its yours too, isn’t it?’
‘I can’t, I just can’t think like that, you know. That’s the way I have been brought up, that’s what I have always seen, you telling Mom about her money your money. I can’t bring myself to take yours freely’.
That hurt a bit.
I composed myself and told him gently. ‘Yes, it is my money, but you are free to spend it the way you want to. But I want you to use that freedom with respect. I have always asked your mother to keep her income separately, not because I see her separate, but I respect her rights as an individual. Her money is the fruit of her labour. We don’t keep an account of how much we contribute to the family kitty and I have no idea how much money she has in her accounts. Sometimes if I am short of cash, I borrow some from her and vice versa. You have every freedom to choose the phone you want; it is a choice you have to make. To buy an expensive one or a cheaper one is a decision you have to take. I have no objection either way. But you have to decide’.
It is quite likely that if I have to buy it for him, I would buy whichever model he wants. But surely, I felt that leaving the choice to him would make him wiser.
Take it from a banker; money can be, at times the most despicable thing. Ironically, the way one handles money is a yardstick to his/her character too.

********* Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 08.09.2010


  1. I'm of the opinion that more than the general attitude towards money it is the attitude towards money that came about through another persons sweat and toil that tells one’s character.

    And only if one has spent a moment in the least, feeling the helplessness without even a nickel, will one understand the value of money.

    And I do not blame K for the comment he reserved about over hearing your monologue about ‘my money and your money’.

    As for the loss of the mobile, well he must have sensed the pain and is peeved with himself.. Hence he wants the onus of making the decision about the new handset on you.

    Good learning for all.

  2. I have never had any attitude for money. I neither dread it nor like it..I am not right in this I know, but thats the way I am. very aloof as far as money is concerned. I have no fascinations for stuff money can buy me, for I have seen it fail very closely when my dad died inspite of everything money could do.

  3. I find myself uncomfortable at the thought of money. But things go along very smoothly. All our financial affairs are handled by the lady. For all our needs money appears at the last moment. Only magic can balance anarchy. She is knows the magic!!!
    Balan, I too had a very similar experience to yours with the bus fare shortage for bus journey!!!

  4. Amazing! The way you started it. A post titled Respect for Money can’t be started in a better way than you started it. Just short of 1 paisa and the walk back home 6 kilometres. I’m someone who is clueless about money management. If it’s there, just go around, spend it, make merry. If it’s not, be quite, and stay back, that’s my policy. I like K’s attitude, I like it very much.

    “The way one handles money is a yardstick to his/her character too.”

    Exactly, I can’t agree more, for this is something I always tell people. I’m also some one who hardly gets the lent amount back. People simply disappear, and after a while I too tend to forget. Perhaps the only wise thing that "tedious old fool" Polonius told us would be ‘neither a borrower nor a lender be’.

    And one last thing: Kudos to the honesty with which you write!

  5. 1 paise short has taught you a lot. Your child maybe was feeling sorry for losing his mobile and was frustrated.

    Money - I am not a good manager of money. But I do my best to save. But I am too kind and help people. They promise to return the money and they dont. I feel bad about it. Now I am careful.

  6. There are many thoughts in this writing and many messages that it has for all who read it. Lessons to be learned, as well. I think we should all respect money because without it, where will we be? I find it pleasing that your son was thinking of you, his dad, that had worked hard to earn that money. Today's children/teens think they have no more to do nothing but ask or take and that mom and dad OWE it to them...Well, off my soap-box on that..I highly admire your son for the way he felt in not just taking the money or assuming..He respected you and his mom...Excellent write with many things to think about in the content..............

  7. @sandy: Thanks for the beautiful words, Sandy! It is a great feeling when one's words convey the exact meaning to others!

    @Arun: Thanks, buddy! That IS a long compliment from you! :)

    @Anil, Sujata, Insignia, Venu: Thanks for commenting. Money is secondary is the post. The implied emphasis is on respect for others; like Anil said, how we treat other's money is a measure of our respect to them...

  8. I felt very bad about losing a very expensive model while travelling in a crowded bus. A graduate of Fagin's Academy helped himself to it. I bought a cheaper one to replace it and am very careful when riding with the dexterous gentlemen. After learning about my loss, colleagues began confessing about their own mobile losses. I was glad they lost more than one. Good post.


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