By SHOVON CHOWDHURY
MONEY is important, and we think about it a lot. This is normal. But we need to recognise certain truths, which are self evident, and take action accordingly. One of them is this. You can make lots of money, and let’s hope you do, but you can’t take it with you.
Whether you’re religious or not, this remains true. If you’re an atheist, you know it ends when you’re dead. Hoarding cash is not going to help you. If you’re religious, it’s the same. No religion promises special treatment to the rich. The head of the holy place might smile at you more, even give you a kissie or two, but he cannot ensure better placement. Either way, post your death, your money won’t help you.
Even when you’re alive, money won’t make you happy, as we can see from the examples of The Great Gatsby, Mughal-e-Azam and Scrooge McDuck. Mukesh Ambani hardly ever smiles in public. Whenever we see Sharad Pawar, he seems to be nursing some secret sorrow.
The Bill Gates of the eighties was cold and scary. It was easy to imagine him sipping wine and releasing the hounds. Now that he’s given his money away, he radiates warmth and sunshine.
Riches and happiness rarely go hand in hand. It’s because of the tragedy inherent in the pursuit of riches. In success lurk the seeds of failure.
In a novel that I’ve been trying to write, an elderly tobacco czar is terrified after all the poor people in India become invisible. They need money. He has a lot of it. He cannot see them. It’s his worst nightmare come true, and even technicians flown in from Switzerland are unable to make the poor become visible, despite staying at very expensive hotels, where their room service bills have been heartbreaking.
His mental condition deteriorates, until he ends up clinging to his Godrej almirah, neither sleeping at night, nor pausing for milk. His family are naturally concerned. He is the signing authority. It’s proving hard to remove him, because he’s gained some weight over the years. They had considered using a forklift truck, but the door is too narrow, and the repair work would have been expensive.
As in the case of all great literature, he is demonstrating an enduring truth. Becoming too rich in a poor country is fraught with peril. Please learn from this. Don’t let it happen to you.
The fact that you are reading this blog shows that your heart is in the right place. You know you want to help. You’re already online. Just click on the link here. You can choose how you help. You can help save children from polio, get schoolgirls off the floor, or support people who are kind to animals. You can mentor a poor kid, or help them with hygiene. You can help children lost at railways stations find their way home. You can teach kids to take care of nature.
Click on the one that you like. Enter your credit card details. Check your balance and enter the amount accordingly. Don’t be reckless. Leave five hundred rupees for emergencies. The whole process will take less than five minutes, and it will be incredibly good for your soul. You know you want to. You’re a nice person. They need a hand. Peace of mind is just a click away. Click here.
Pic: Clare Arni
Shovon Chowdhury is a slightly disturbed Delhi-based novelist. Due to a massive failure in quality control, his first novel, The Competent Authority, was shortlisted for the Hindu, Crossword, Shakti Bhatt and Tata Lit Live awards. It has also been the subject of two PhD theses, one creative writing course, and several unauthorised theatrical adaptations, against which he was unable to lodge FIRs due to lack of funds. His most recent novel, Murder With Bengali Characteristics, is a detective story featuring a brief appearance by a talking cat, who is in no way essential to the plot.