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Don’t be a miser in life

Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar
Filed on September 9, 2021

Some people only love accumulating more and more wealth. The obsession with money and simultaneously the fear of losing it possesses their mind so strongly that they become reluctant to spend even a penny for charity. This narrow mindset transforms them into becoming a miser. The lifestyle and public behaviour of any miser become despicable as well as laughable to society. They are truly miserable as they neither enjoy their life nor their wealth. We all remember the character of Shylock from William Shakespeare’s famous drama — The Merchant of Venice.

Some time ago I read an old book named Lives and Anecdotes of Misers written by FS Merryweather and published in 1850. The book contained humorous anecdotes of world-famous misers from the 17th century. It not only entertained me but also reminded me that similar characters are still living around us and behaving in the same strange ways. I knew a person who was in fact a rich businessman but lived his life with extreme frugality. He was always sceptical about everyone, even his family. He didn’t allow his wife and children to spend comfortably in their life. This created unhappiness among them and a dislike for him. When he grew old, he encountered paralysis. He couldn’t write his signature properly on cheques with his frail hands. Still, he didn’t give power of attorney to anyone with the fear that his family would cheat him out of his money. The miser never disclosed the details of his property, transactions and cash to his family. When he died, I along with some friends went for a condolence meeting. We were surprised to see that the family was enjoying his demise rather than mourning it. They hadn’t even garlanded his photo. The widow and her children expressed their anger by saying, ‘Thank God. We are so relieved.’ Alas! The miser never earned respect from anyone — not in life and not even in death.

Sometimes the idiom ‘penny wise and pound fool’ comes true about misers. I remember once I had filed a tender for supplying groceries to a big company. My competitor in the bid was a rich and established trader. I did not hope to acquire the contract, but unexpectedly the company awarded it to me. Later when I asked the purchase manager of the company why and how he approved my tender, he smilingly said: “Sir, your competitor is rich but also a miser. I noticed his strange behaviour during our communication. He never made a direct phone call to me, instead preferred to give a missed call every time expecting me to make a call from our side. All his efforts were to save charges for a few calls. Such people are really tough to bargain with. We never entertain inflexible people in our business.” This incident taught me a lot.

Friends, my advice would be-earn honestly, spend wisely, help generously and live happily.

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