On certain occasions in life you are at a dilemma – do I satisfy my desires or take overall responsibilities. At such points, it is essential to curb our feelings for the larger good. To do what I really want to do would surely give me pleasure. But the pleasure I would get in fulfilling the desires of the entire family would be incomparable. If I have an opportunity to get ‘incomparable pleasure’, why should I get satisfied with just ‘pleasure’?
In 1965, I appeared for B.Com exams and was contemplating what was best for me to do thereafter. I had to decide whether to join business or go for a job or pursue further studies. The ground reality was that we were ten brothers and four sisters. Except one sister who was married, the others were younger to me. They needed to be educated, married and ultimately settle in their career. There was always a financial crunch at home – even for essential day to day needs. We desperately needed regular income in the family.
I always wanted to run my own business and I had the confidence that I had acumen for it. It could then be debated – why did I not join dad’s mining business? The mining business was not giving returns. To make it profitable, processes needed to be mechanised for which an investment of Rs.15-20 crores was needed. We did not have adequate sources nor securities to get the large funds to run the mining business.
The maximum financial help I was offered was enough to set up a grocery shop – a very common business occupation at that time. Though business could give better earnings, there was no guarantee of any fixed minimum returns. A single wrong decision in business could ruin the dreams of the entire family. It was too big a risk for me to take. I had to play a safer game. Therefore to ensure that all the family members are taken care of, I decided against setting up a business.
The other option was to study further which would result in a further financial burden. The family would continue to struggle for at least 3-4 additional years.
Employment gives regular assured income. It was better to go for assured income by doing a job. At any later time, as and when I saw the family settling down, I could take the risk of fulfilling my dream of experimenting with my own business. Under the circumstances, I was convinced that doing a job would be the thing to do. It was a compromise and of course, not a very happy situation to be in. I was still in dilemma
Just then, the results of my final B.Com were declared. I had secured the top rank in the University. After getting the results, I went home, took my mother’s blessings and headed to the office room. I missed my dad. He was away on one of his trips to the mines. By this time, a few of our family, friends and neighbours who had heard of my results had already collected in the office with a garland to honour me. One common question was, “Badri, what do you want to do next?” True, I now had to take a final decision.
I was blessed with a surprise. My dad had unexpectedly returned from his trip and entered the office, full of well-wishers. He was not aware of my results. He heard it from the people already collected there. I could read his face. He was a proud father. As if the garland was waiting for my dad. He picked it up and garlanded me. What an honour!
The same question was asked again, “what next?” I was still confused. Before I could answer, dad answered. “With such bright results, what other option would he prefer other than to take the family responsibility after me.” I was happy that dad had come to my rescue and took a decision for me.
Dad looked at me and continued “Beta, you study as much as you want. No limits. Leave it to me, I will handle the affairs at home. You don’t have to worry about the expenses. I have energy and strength to take care of all of that. If you study now, you can take care of the family tomorrow!” I was lucky to have such a dad!
A very sensitive occasion for me. My dilemma was no more. I got what I ultimately wanted. Study further. I thought for a while, I could continue study now and still earn later with higher status and earnings. But if I went for a steady income now, it would be very difficult to go for studies later on.
It therefore was decided that I would go for further studies as long as dad had energy.This was the opportunity to show my worth in studies and then take up the challenge of supporting the entire family. It also reminded me: in business I might earn, but it would be temporary because there can always be losses. But if I acquire knowledge, it would be my permanent asset and I would never lose it. That asset would help me later, whether I go for employment or business.
Vidya Dhanam Sarwa Dhana Pradhanam.