(This is a translation of the story 'Naseehaton ka Daftar' by Munshi Premchand)
Babu Akshay Kumar was a lawyer at Patna and was considered to be a well-known lawyer, almost as good as a Rai Bahadur. As is prevalent about the famous personalities, his childhood, too, was spent in poverty.
Whenever the people in the neighbourhood had to rebuke their naughty children, Babu Akshay Kumar’s example was presented- Look at Akshay Babu! Today he is basking in the glory, as if an elephant sways at his doorstep, but in earlier days he did not have even enough to afford the oil for his lamp. He had to burn the straw to be able to study, and at times he had to sit under the lampshades by the roadside. This is exactly how knowledge is gained.
When imagination takes its flight, it knows no boundaries. Some people even admitted that they had witnessed Akshay Babu studying in the light of the glowworms. It, however, depends upon the listener’s sanity to judge whether the glowworm’s shimmer or the straw’s light is more stable for one to study.
The fact is that Akshay Kumar’s childhood wasn’t exactly something to invoke jealousy amongst others, nor was his lawyership era full of great fortune as was expected. Not to talk of a flood of success, the drought overtook it. His expectations, that the black gown would prove to be a Kamadhenu and every worldly desire would be fulfilled, proved to be false. The black gown could not brighten up the black fortune.
Awaiting the good days, a lot many days went by and finally when the good time approached, when he was gracefully invited to the Garden Parties, when he was honoured as the Chief Guest at functions, by that time his youth had bid adieu and his hair required some polishing. Especially because he wished to please the beautiful and pleasing Hemvati, whose presence had almost fulfilled Babu Akshay kumar’s last desire.
Just as charity hides all the ills in a person’s nature, similarly miserliness overshadows all the goodness as well. A miser has only enemies, but no friends. Every person hates him. That poor man hurts no one, normally he is very quiet, serious natured, social, holds self-respect, but miserliness is like a black colour which absorbs all other colours and reflects none.
Babu Akshay Kumar was also a famous miser. Obviously, he had earned this status owing to the jealousy of the people around. A person who earns the badge of a miser is basically very lucky because many people are jealous of him and that makes him feel important.
If Babu Akshay Kumar held the pennies in between his teeth, lest they should slip away, then what harm did he do to others? If his home wasn’t well decorated with the costliest of items; if he did not entertain a band of lazy worthless servants; if he didn’t ride a two-horse carriage to the court; then how did it matter to others? He followed a strict principle that- ‘You take care of the pennies, the rupees will take care of themselves.’ And he had every right to sternly follow this golden principle of life.
He had sacrificed his youth and his health for these pennies. If he held them with his teeth, he was absolutely right.
But the beautiful pleasing Hemvati was completely opposite in nature to him. Just like her sisters, she, too, was very fond of luxurious life. The simple living Akshay Babu wasn’t too rude with her and he took good care of her desires and needs but when she overspent, he had to utilize his court skills to suppress her increasing demands.
One day, when Akshay Kumar came back from the court, Hemvati placed a coloured envelope on his hand. He opened it and found a beautiful pink invitation card. He said to Hemvati, ‘These people are fond of some or the other way of spending money. I believe there was absolutely no need for this dramatic performance.
Hemvati was used to listening these type of excuses. She said smilingly, ‘Could there be any better occasion to celebrate?’
Akshay Kumar understood that now is the right time to show his skills of argument. He slowly sat down and said, ‘My dear, passing a B.A. exam (Graduation) is not such a big deal. Thousands of students pass it every year. If my brother had cleared the exam, I would have simply patted on his shoulder and appreciated him. I would never even dream of having a play staged in his honour. Doctor Sahab is a wise man. God knows what was he thinking when he sent this invitation!’
Hemvati- ‘I will have to go.’
Akshay Kumar- ‘Why? Have you promised them?’
Hemvati- ‘Doctor Sahab’s wife personally came to invite me.’
Akshay Kumar- ‘Then, my dear, you may visit them some other day. Why do you have to go for the function?’
Hemvati- ‘Now that you are insisting, I shall have to tell you. I have been offered the main role of the Heroine and I have accepted it.’
Hemvati looked at her husband with pride, but Akshay Kumar wasn’t amused. Earlier also Hemvati had played the role of Shakuntala twice. And on both the occasions, he had to spend a lot of money on her. He feared that he shall have to spend another two hundred rupees this time also. It was high time, he had to stop it before it was too late.
He softly held Hemvati's hand and uttered some honey-coated words- ‘Dear, you have invited this headache again. You don’t seem to care about your own problems and difficulties. You don’t even think that your troubles shall bother me so much. My dear, this function is morally unacceptable. These are the occasions that breed jealousy; where back-biting becomes a habit and taunts and arguments take birth.'
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