Hard Earned Money

by K Jambulingam

Hard Earned Money

I bundled all the saris and was ready to go to the nearest weekly market to sell. Behind this bundle was the hard work put in by every member of my family. My aged mother, newly married wife and myself were partners of this family business of weaving. This was what my grandfather did which my father followed. My father never wanted me to carry on this and therefore he wanted to educate me to get a white collar job I wanted to fulfill his desire. I studied well till 10th standard. I was the first rank student in the school. The second rank was always secured by my friend who went to a medical school and became a civil surgeon and employed in Erode government hospital. We both were friends as long as he was in school. After school we met once or twice. He attended my marriage at this village and gave me a gift which I valued it more than any other gift given by my relatives. Thoughts about my friend used to crop up in my mind but my possession as a waver stopped from visiting him.

I spread my wares in Erode weekly market. Since the next day was a festival which was celebrated by almost all religious people I had good sales. Especially the building workers who were given yearly bonus bought most of my goods. By sun set all my saris were sold. Before returning to my village I searched for the list given my wife. It was very safe in my purse which was presented by my friend during marriage. I glanced the list there were as many as ten items. I purchased all the items as per the list because I did not want to disappoint my wife. After all once in a year she had asked me to buy such items as cashew and plums. The thought of a big lunch the following day was in my mind.

I went to the bus stand. The festival day I had planned to take up a holiday from my work. I got into the bus. When the conductor came to me to issue the ticket to my horror the purse was not found not in any of pockets and in the bag in which I was carrying grocery items. Luckily the money I kept in the upper shirt pocket came to my rescue. All my programmes of the festival disappeared. I was all the while planning t from whom I had to take loan to buy yarn for making saris and what to do for the home expenses for the fortnight. I reached my village Thuduppathy and went home. My wife was happy to see all the items she wanted for the special lunch. I did not want to spoil her mood so I did not talk a word about the purse.

The next morning my mother-in-law and sister in-law came to present us the gift of a sari and a dhoti. They had also brought two hens to prepare for the lunch along with some sweets made of jaggry. I could not show my grief openly. I had my breakfast and was helping my wife preparation of lunch.

Around noon a big car came and stood in front of my house. My wife told that some big people had come enquire about someone's house. I went and to put on a shirt. Meanwhile the people had entered the house. I was surprised to see my friend with his wife. I made them to sit on the mat. They did not mind it. My brought water in two tumblers and some sweets in plate. My friend asked how I was doing in my business. I said I was doing just OK. He with a mischievous smile he asked where was purse he had given to me as a marriage gift. I told him that it was safely kept. He told me that the purse was with him and he put it on the mat in front of me. I was flabbergasted. He explained to me everthing.

The purse was found by some good soul and handed over it to the police station. The police opened the purse and saw the visiting card of him and along with a photograph taken during my school days. Police asked him whether it was his. Looking at the purse and photograph he thanked them and assured them that he would safely return it to the lawful owner. I thanked him for taking the trouble of visiting me on a festival day. My mother-in-law was telling my wife that was hard earned money therefore it came back to the place where it belonged.

K JAMBULINGAM

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