True Story of A Pauper Billionaire
“Good morning Sir…My name is Ann Mary. I would like to get an appointment with you…”her voice was little shaky and sounded anxious. She said she was a journalist intern. This was her first project. Her professor was my classmate at school of journalism.
I welcomed her. Her project was to prepare a feature “how to be a billionaire” after interviewing a couple of rich men.
“But I am not a billionaire, not even rich…” I said.
“Sir, my professor told me that you are an editor for a UK-based firm so you must be immensely rich…”
“He is misleading you. I can’t help you…” I said.
“Sir, no other billionaires gave me appointment. I was pinning all my hopes on you Sir…Please help me…”
Her face fell. She became sad. I could feel her fight to stop tears rolling into her eyes. I suddenly recalled my days as a journalist trainee for one year in Janmabhumi, when I didn’t get a single paisa. The living was so tough then.
I smiled and said: “Yes – you can ask any questions. I am a billionaire, but in a different dimension. Shoot”
She kept her notepad and pen ready and asked seriously (trying to get the journalistic look): “Uday sir, when did you decide to make lot of money? How did the ambition of becoming a rich man sprout?”
“During my school days. I have decided to make money by hook or crook. Path was not important, making money was only motto. I decided to do anything to make money…” I said.
That was a statement of fact. I did schooling in a remote village. My parents were school teachers with very meager salary, struggling to make both ends meet. They did not even have any help from their parents too. They too were independent from very young age. As I was born in a Brahmin family there was no future – government was the only major employer then. All jobs will go by caste reservation and political recommendation. Even if I secure highest mark I won’t get admission for higher studies. Students from other castes/religions were getting cash scholarships, even if they were rich. I was angry. Very angry at the system. There is no value for merit and virtue in this world. So I should make money and become rich.
“Who gave you the first advice on how to make money?”
During 10th standard I had only two shirts and two half-pants. No chapels (foot wear). One shirt was very old and the other one was torn and stitched. Half-pants didn’t have buttons, so I have to tie it with thick threads. When I see boys wearing new shirts I would feel jealous. I badly wanted a new shirt. I was very angry at my parents. I was developing inferiority complex. I did not even feel like facing any crowd because I was worried whether they would tease me in public and therefore my involvement in extracurricular activities reduced.
One day my mother gave me a small cloth pouch with lot of coins inside it (5 paisa to 50 paisa coins).
“Buy a new shirt for you…” she said. I counted the coins. Rs 24/-
Next day, her friend Hindi teacher told me that my mother was not having her evening tea (10 paisa) and vada (10 paisa) for more than six months. She was starving and saving that money for me! My mother also used to go to bed without a meal just to keep our stomachs…
For further reading please check the book : TIDBITS: From The Life of Pai
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March 05, 2013
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