Synopsis: There is no substitute for hard and honest work. This blog gives an example of a person who succeeded in making a living for him through hard work and honesty .
Source : Google photo
There was a young man who did not have much in a way of formal education so suffered the fate of being unemployed like so many other people. But one day he decided to do something about it and started selling tea by the roadside during the Magh Mela festival that lasts for a month attracting a huge number of pilgrims.
In India any one can start his own business any time unlike in other countries where a business permit is required, fees paid and a lot of paperwork is required before a person can start a business no matter how small . The Indians are blessed because there is practically no regulation.
So the young man sat by the roadside whole day selling hot tea to pilgrims who were only too happy to buy a cup to ward off the winter chill. At the end of the month the young man made a profit of 900 Rupees. It may not sound much these days but 60 years ago 900 Rupees was a tidy sum not to be snickered at so with this amount in his pocket he came to my father and asked him to keep the money for safekeeping.
My father was a very honest person and always willing to help anyone in need so he was trusted and highly respected in our community. The young man did not trust his relatives with the money and told my father that with this small amount he wants to open a general merchandise store.
At first it was a ramshackle shack he rented and sold candies, stationeries, pens and the like because 900 Rupees was not a whole lot of money but he persevered and slowly built up his stock of things to sell as his customer base grew. I could see him taking meticulous notes of what people wanted and every afternoon pedaled his old bicycle to buy the things people had ordered the previous day. People were sympathetic to his effort to stand on his own two feet and patronized his store. My father was his first customer which he never forgot and the fact that my father kept his money safely.
Over the years his store prospered and he moved to a better location and decided that he wanted to get married because he was earning enough to support a wife. So a plain looking scarecrow of a woman was found and they got married at a minimum cost while neighbors and friends chipped in to pay for some expenses because everyone loved the great courage of this young man and his untiring effort to make his store a success without any help from anyone. The banks in India do not give loans to small entrepreneurs like him so he got the money by selling tea.
Then one day his doctor told him the bad news. He had TB. It was heartbreaking news for everybody because everyone rooted for him and wanted him to get well but TB is an expensive disease to treat. No one knew what happened to him for a long time because he had simply vanished leaving his store in charge of a relative.
This relative knew nothing about running a store and had never worked in his life so he ran down the inventory quickly and failed to collect what people owed the store. We all felt very sorry for the demise of his store that was his lifeline and we all knew how hard he had worked to establish it. Then one day the young man returned with puffy cheeks and good health because he had beaten the dreadful TB but the store had to be rebuilt from scratch so again he started to pedal his bicycle and buy the things people wanted to buy so slowly his efforts paid off and his store regained the financial health. It was brimming with goods of all kinds. Now the suppliers started to come to his store to inquire what he needed so he did not have to go to buy them downtown any more.
His scare crow wife gained health and they moved to a newly rented place where he also kept a room full of goods that his store needed. He bought his wife jewelries and told me one day that he now had a CD player which was the current fad.
He was now ageing with a lot of grey hair but still very jolly and rotund and with a great sense of humor. He always greeted me happily and was eager to know where I lived and what I did. He had known me since I was a 10 year old kid and always showed great pride in me. Alas that was the last time I saw him because he passed away quickly due to jaundice. His wife soon sold the store and left the town for good because she knew nothing about running a store even if it was so well established.
I write about this remarkable young man and his struggle because I believe that hard work always pays off in the end if one has the stamina and determination to succeed as he did.
This brings me to another story that is also heartbreaking. It was in my father’s village in Bengal where his elder brother lived. He wanted to do something useful in his life for a change and asked my father to finance his store that he wanted to open in the village. So my father built him a store from scratch and filled it with merchandise but this uncle did not know how to run a store and gave all the goods away to people who promised to pay him back but never did. He kept a meticulous record of who owed him how much but was never able to collect so the store closed, its roof caved in and walls collapsed turning a once neat store into a heap of mud.
So why the young man succeeded while the older man supposedly wiser failed? This is something to think about. We all face uncertainties in our lives at some point and need help. It can be a simple advice or a definitive guide to the road to success. When all is said and done, each person is literally responsible for determining his own future so every decision he makes determines his future.
It is not enough to get a college education these days as many young people find out to their dismay. I often asked the college students in my dorm in California what they wanted to study and why they were taking the courses they did. What they expected to do when they graduated? The usual answers I received were, I don’t know or I have not figured it out yet.
I was very impressed by a young girl in my home town who one day asked me what she should do for a bright future to which I suggested that she should study hard and enter a competitive IAS exam ( Indian administrative Service) .To my surprise she took it to heart , prepared hard and passed the exam.
After her training at the academy she was assigned as the district magistrate of a town with all the perks her job was entitled to including a big salary, free bungalow, servants, vehicle and many such benefits. I could not be happier for her success.
A classmate of mine who lived near our house also showed his mettle when he said that he will study hard to pass the forthcoming university exams so we studied together whole night for months and passed the exams with good grades. So the hard work pays off.
I also know that many people come forward to help when they see a young person is trying his best to succeed in his life. There are many kind people who have struggled themselves in their younger days and know the feeling of exasperation that comes to someone trying hard but not getting anywhere.
But the ultimate responsibility lies with the individual. People can help to some extent but the individual has to do his best and try the hardest. If you work in an office and always do more than your fair share of work and do an excellent job then you can be sure that someone will notice it and recommend you for a promotion. People who procrastinate , who show up late for work, leave early and do not prepare the report the manager wants on time are the losers and often get fired.
So I have come to realize that one trait that is most valued in a person is honesty. An honest person is a hard working person who always tries his best often without accolades. An honest person has a conscience that tells him what is expected of him and he does the job. He is a reliable person because his conscience bothers him if he lets people down when they depend on him.
The young man selling tea was an honest person. I miss him.
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