Neighbours always share an interesting relationship. They don’t belong to the same family (like relations) and they are not selected by each other (like friends). But still, they know so much about each other and participate in the important events of the other families. Sometimes, they keep in touch with each other even after being separated for a long time. Of course, they also gossip about each other! This story is about two such neighbors, who were faced with similar situations but chose different paths. And when their paths crossed once, they were shocked to find out the power. The power of influence.
Ram and Shyam knew each other since they were kids. Their families were neighbors for at least a couple of generations before they were born. Ram was the only son in their house and Shyam had an elder brother and a younger sister. All of them played together, went to school together and grew up together.
There was one more common factor between the two families – The temple. Their houses were very close to the biggest temple in their district. The temple was not only a cultural powerhouse, but it was also the place where a lot of economic activities took place. Over a period of time, the land value around the temple increased tremendously. Naturally, their houses were also sought by a lot of merchants who wanted to set up shop close to the temple.
Ram was the only son in the family and he was not interested in the temple service that their family was involved into. He wanted to start a business of his own. He worked for some years in a neighboring shop and eventually set up his own shop inside the town. The initial years were very hard. There were times when his financial situation was so bad, that he wanted to almost quit the business. But somehow he was able to get some loans and invest further in his business. The only reason why he was able to get loans was the house which he owned – since it was so close to the temple, it was valued highly, and people were not very reluctant to give him money. He was also of the opinion that if the business fared badly, he would sell the house and buy a smaller one in the town and settle the loans. But every time he took such risks, he was able to get some returns from the business and settle back the loans. People thought it was due to his hard work, but he thought it was pure luck! Anyways, slowly the business picked up and he no longer had to take loans as the business was doing pretty well after a few years. He was quite satisfied with the revenue earned through his business, and now thought he should sell the house and buy a similar house inside the town and use the remaining money to expand his business.
Shyam, on the other hand was not the only son in his house and had to share it with his siblings. There was not much of problems when they grew up, other than the small fights they had within themselves. It started when all the three of them were married. Joint families always give people the impression that they are getting less then what they deserve and the other families are treated better. Their family was no exception especially when kids were born and responsibilities increased. They did not have much expenses other than the clothes and food which was shared among all the families. But the temple, where they worked paid them a modest amount, which was shared till then. The siblings had other ideas and wanted to move inside the town so that they can earn more money in other ventures. Each had their own idea of what to do, and naturally they wanted some money to invest in whatever they wanted to do. They thought it was the right time to sell their house and share whatever they get equally and start living independently. Based on the amount of money that was offered by the merchants, each of them was confident that they can buy a house in the town and still invest in some ventures. Basically, they were not able to resist the offer of the merchants – they wanted the money.
It was at this time that both of them got lawyer notices from the temple. The houses, it seems were leased to them for 100 years by the temple, and the period was expiring in a couple of months. Since, they were not interested in continuing the temple service, the temple wanted the property back.
They got the shock of their lives. It was evident in their voice when they spoke to each other the next day.
“Did your father ever tell you about the lease agreement?”
“Not even once. Not even when he died, I always thought that we owned the house”
“My God. I took so many risky loans thinking that we had a property for back-up. Just imagine what would have happened if the business had failed at some stage. In fact, I asked my father if we can sell the house if there was a huge loss, and he nodded his head!”
“At least, you have your own business to depend on. We don’t have anything. We were totally dependent on the property, and now getting to know that the property is not ours, we are clueless as to what to do next. We never learnt any trade or business. God!”
They had to move on, and they did. Ram was able to afford a rented house and worked harder in his business with the goal of buying an own house. Since Shyam and his siblings had no regular business to hold on, they decided to stay togeather and share whatever was brought by each of them. One family made more money one month, and another made more money the next month. But they always shared whatever they got. It was required, as no one had means to regular income at that point. They had to support each other to help themselves and somehow were able to adjust, share and live together.
The same people who were not able to live together just a few months back due to the wealth (rather, non-existent wealth) were able to live together now!
They learnt the hard way that assets like Gold and Land can either make people work more and take more risks (or) can make people totally dependent on them. The investments made in gold and land can vanish instantly at any time, but the investments made to acquire them cannot vanish suddenly. Without such efforts, gold and land are only metal and mud.
PS: Don’t depend on inherited property. Its more important to inherit skills.