The LessonMarch 1, 2011
It was my second job after finishing college. I took it up because I loved the financial independence that came with it. I loved the idea of living all by myself in an apartment of my own, live on my own terms. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have to depend on my family for financial support. I felt on top of the world when my first salary came. I went on a shopping spree, bought all kinds of things for myself, my folks and for my apartment. It gave me immense pleasure because I was not answerable to anyone, how and where I was spending my money. It was all about me: my money and my independence. ‘To hell with the world!’ was my attitude.
But the way I thought changed, when I met Sai Prasad. I first met Sai when I saw him sitting alone across the breakfast table at Digicaptions, the company where I was working. I saw a faint smile on his face and our eyes met. He gave me a warm smile. Usually I am apprehensive about smiling at strangers, but there was something in that smile. It took my notice. It was genuine. I couldn’t help but smile back at him. We got talking and I learnt in our first meeting that he also had just finished college and it was his first job. As days passed, I got to know the person Sai was as we started speaking more often,and a new friendship bloomed. What struck me about Sai was his simplicity, the maturity and the sense of responsibility towards his family given the same age group we belonged to. He came from a very humble family with financial constraints which made him take the job. He was an engineering student and he took up this job to support his family of two. His mother and younger brother, who was still in college.
One day, Sai and I were in the middle of our usual daily conversations, when I asked him what made him take a job at DigiCaptions when he could have got himself a better job since he was an engineering graduate. That day changed my life in ways I never thought, when Sai told me his story.
Five years ago when he was still a student, his father left his family with a note, only to never return home again. This came as a big shock to Sai who had just enrolled in the engineering course. His mother fell ill at the news of her husband abandoning their family. With no savings and no idea about money, the entire burden of his family fell on him because he was the eldest son. As Sai spoke I could feel the sadness in his voice. It touched me. He told me how he struggled to make ends meet by taking up tuitions and taking loan from the bank to support his studies and his family.
He took up this job to pay off the loan that he had taken. He had already started saving so that he could put his younger brother in a good college and take care of his mother. I didn’t sympathize with Sai but I felt great respect for him and it grew manifold because that day I understood the struggles people go through in their lives. Sai was always a positive person. Of all the days that I was at Digicaptions, I never heard him crib or complain about anything. Meeting Sai changed my perspective about a lot of things in life. For me all I ever cared was my financial independence. I didn’t have to support my family. Shopping, blowing up money on friends, partying. It didn’t have any meaning. Sai taught me a great lesson of life: The value of money. It changed me as a person and the way I thought.
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