In my previous article, I have discussed the importance of a simple and content life. I would like to tell you an interesting anecdote, which I heard from my father, who despite being the owner of a small trading company, never wore an expensive attire. I always saw him wearing a simple shirt and trousers. Once, I casually asked him the reason and he said: “Son, I love simplicity. A person should not be judged by the wealth he flaunts, but by the wealth he actually possesses.” He then told me a story.
Our Datar family hails from a small town called Lad Karanja in Maharashtra. It is historically a well-known pilgrim centre and also an important trading town. In the 17th century, the town was so prosperous that there was not a single poor family living there. Villagers were generous and being a trade hub, the town had everything. Once, a perfume trader stopped there for a short stay. As he entered the town, the first person he saw was a senior citizen in his 50’s in simple clothes. Staring at him, the trader enquired whether he could sell his perfumes in the town as they were very expensive. He also expressed his doubt whether the residents in the town could afford to buy such costly and luxurious items.
The resident asked the trader whether he sold musk. The trader replied affirmatively, but sarcastically remarked: “Sir, musk is the costliest item and only kings and wealthy people can purchase it.” The resident told him patiently: “I will purchase the entire stock of musk you have and pay you in gold coins. Follow me to my house.” The trader was shocked. He followed the person in disbelief to a site where a house was being built. The resident went to a house adjacent to the site and brought a bag full of gold coins, which he handed over to the trader in exchange for the musk stock. But there was something more shocking for the trader to witness. The resident untied the musk bag and poured the entire musk powder in the mixture of clay and lime and ordered the supervisor to polish the walls with it. The trader asked him the reason behind this unorthodox act, to which the resident said: “I was planning to buy the entire perfume stock you have, but its fragrance will vanish after some time. So I thought why not try something novel to keep my house scented for a long time.” The trader went away in shame.
I, along with my father, once went to a petrol pump. The person in the office was in simple clothes. I thought him to be an employee. But, later my father cleared my misconception by telling me that he was actually the owner of the pump and a millionaire, who also owned some other businesses. Remembering my father’s previous words, we both smiled. Never judge a book by its cover.
Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar is the chairman and managing director of Al Adil Trading.
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