Wednesday, July 14, 2010
A Costly Lesson
I could never forget the fateful day. It was a April fools day. Gopi, a co-worker of mine, came to me with visible hesitation. He opened his mouth but words did not come out. He did not tell anything for a few minutes. Then he said shyly, “Sir, can you give me Rs.5000/-. I’ll return the money with interest next Wednesday” I could see trace of tears in his eyes.
I knew him only for six months. He was always polite and well behaved. I considered myself to be a good judge of people. I judged him favourably and said, “I’ll give you the money. There is no need for interest”.
He said firmly, “Sorry sir. I won’t take money free of interest. I’ll accept money only on interest @18%”
I knew he was different. I did not want to receive interest for one week period. But he was very firm on his stand. Finally I agreed and lent him Rs.5000/-
Many Wednesdays passed since. It seemed to me he forgot about the money he received. He rarely came near me. Three months later I reminded him about the money.
He asked with vague expression on his face, “What money”
I was stunned. “The money Rs.5000/- I gave you in April…”
His face cleared. “Oh…. that money”
I expected him to say something. But he remained quiet.
So I said, “You promised me to repay the money with interest within a week”
“Yes…yes… I remember. I agreed to pay you 18% interest also”
I was relieved to hear about his memory. “Yes”
“Because of unexpected expenses I couldn’t repay. Don’t worry. I’ll repay with interest”
Many months passed. But I did not receive money from him. He always kept his distance from me. As the necessity of getting back the money was mine, I approached him one day. “Gopi”
Without taking his eyes from the computer he said, “Yes”
“My money 5000/-“
Again I saw the vague expression in his face. I could feel my heartbeat accelerate.
He did not say anything for sometime and continued his work on computer.
I said “I am in urgent need of money”
Finishing his work he looked at me thoughtfully. “I know some people who lend money….”
I was seething with a wave of helpless anger. “I want MY money back….”
“Oh….that 5000/-…I’ll repay it with interest next month.”
“I don’t want interest. I’ll be happy if you pay the principal amount”
“No. Though the rate of interest 18% is high, I’ll pay it as agreed. Excuse me…” He hurried to answer the ringing telephone.
Again many months passed. Gopi did not repay the money.
Before mentally writing off the amount I made a final attempt and asked him the money.
He said curtly “See, I promised you to repay the money with 18% interest. I’ll repay you when I get money. You need not ask me at all”
“When will you get money?”
“When I sell my land”
“When will you sell your land?”
“I am ready to sell now itself. If I receive a good offer I’ll sell immediately and repay your money with interest.”
“Where is your land?”
“It is in our native village. Of course it is our joint property. The offer must satisfy my brothers also. One of my brothers is very greedy….”
Controlling my rage I said, “I don’t want my money. Keep it yourself.”
“I am not a beggar. I don’t need anybody’s money. I’ll repay it with full interest…”
”Oh, my God”
He said coolly “You don’t understand me”
“I’m beginning to”
To avoid murdering him on the spot I moved away. To retain, no, to regain my sanity I stopped talking to him.