This is the tale of how Mr. Chintamani Swamimetamorphosed into CHINTA-MONEY SWAMI! Born in an orthodox Brahmin family, Chintamaniwas the only son of his parents. His father was a poor schoolteacher and was the only earning member of the family. Wealth and opulence were distant dreams in the family. However, education was considered a prized ornament of their lineage. Thus Chintamaniwas inculcated into a strict disciplinary routine of studies and good behavior!
Chintamaniwas inducted into a school where English was the primary medium of teaching and his father spent the lion’s share of his income for the same. However, this was the commencement of a unique life of comedy of the convent educated orthodox Brahmin boy Chintamani Swami!
On one side, were the boys from middleclass to affluent families who reflected a stable and decent financial and social status along with their education. On the other side was Chintamani, for whom a meagre and ordinary living was held as a reflection of his father’s achievement as a poor teacher! This created a constant monotonous tune within the innocent mind of Chintamani.
“Money is power! It can buy comfort! It can buy respect! It can buy everything… Money is power!” rang the rhyme in his mind!
Then, one fine day, when the school authorities were taking down the formal spellings of the names of the students, Chintamaniwrote his name as… CHINTAMONEY SWAMI!
The incident came as a shock to his parents when they first saw the spelling of his name in the school’s report card. However, Chintamoneywas adamant to keep the spelling of his name unchanged. His father tried to persuade him with the calmness of a teacher but failed. His mother tried with strictness and failed as well. His stubborn mind could only think of one thing… MONEY! Despite his fascination towards the currency, Chintamoneynever ever resorted to stealing or forgery. In school, his performance remained good, but all his creative writings, his mathematical calculations, his vernacular prose had the single focus… Money!
“My life needs plenty and plenty of money!” he would often tell his classmates and then discourse a fantasy tale about his future affluence and how he would purchase everything with its power.
Even though his childhood was a nondescript one, the happiness and innocent world of fantasy that thrives within the heart and mind of a child, died an untimely death, unknowingly. In its place, a puppet of monetary-hunger made an entry. Thus, he was never happy.
“My son, not everything can be equated with money!” his father used to say,“Don’t worry about it. The human being within us is more important. You need to be happy with life, because life is simple. It is not complex!”
However, nothing seemed to impact Chintamoneyand he brooded over the fact that the shadows of lack of money always overwhelmed their household. There was never plenty and his father’s income could not make a difference to this stigma.
That was the beginning of a journey and it continued through the years as the little boy grew up through his childhood, adolescence and reached adulthood, while the rhyme rang around the corners of his ears, “Money is power! It can buy comfort! It can buy respect! It can buy everything… Money is power!”
The unhappy frown, the constant distress and consistent struggle within him, made Chintamoneylook a decade older than his actual age. Slowly, but steadily, he lost most of his friends (because they began to consider him insane) and family (as they considered him unsocial). He was a complete misfit for the society.
Chintamoney Swamihad one religion, one ambition and one desire in his life… MONEY! When he was 21 years old, his father passed away and then two years later his mother breathed her last. The young man felt sad, but there was a strange emotion of an ecstasy and freedom which churned within his heart. It was a happiness that he felt ashamed about, but it was very much real. He couldn’t tell it to anybody, fearing social taboo. He hung two big Framed Photographs of his parents on the main wall of the living-room, to display his attachment with them. The young man had just started off his career as a marketing executive and he became a staunch practitioner of transaction based relationship. Every move, every relation, every emotion of Chintamoney was associated with some monetary benefit and he ensured that his earnings register kept clocking in more and more in everything he did.
Soon, Chintamoney Swamibecame a real estate broker and began to earn handsomely. Another decade passed and gradually, his wealth started to inflate and his exhibition of affluence became more and more prominent. Within the social strata where he treaded, people displayed their camouflaged adulation, but laughed behind his back.
Chintamoneyunderstood this gesture. Every evening, as he sat on his comfortable sofa inside the living room of his plush apartment in Mumbai, he used to look at the framed photographs of his parents and used to speak with them, “These people are jealous fools who are envious of my success and wealth! Let them be so.’
Deep within his hardened heart, a subconscious soul of a child tried to break away from its chains and free itself, but Chintamoneyensured that it remained caged and wished that it died a predetermined death. When the uncomfortable feeling tried to irritate him more, he used to scribble on a piece of paper and write his own name… “CHINTA MONEY! MONEY, MONEY…. MONEY!”
Two more decade passed and Chintamoneywas now past his middle age and was a rich man. He had the abundance of currency notes and lived alone in his bungalow. Inside his ever grander living-room, Chintamoneyhung the framed photographs of his late parents. Every evening he used to look at them and scorn the rest of his acquaintance in the society, “These people are jealous fools who are envious of my success and wealth! Let them be so.’
One rainy evening, somebody came to meet him. As the person came in, Chintamoneysprang up from the sofa as a sudden rush of memories flooded his consciousness. In front of him stood Radhika! Chintamoney could recognize her from her face. From inside the overflow of memories, Chintamoneycould recall a glimpse of the little girl who used to study with him in school. Chintamoneyknew that she secretly adored him, but his own obsession for money never allowed him to indulge in anything else. His young heart garnered a hidden admiration for Radhikaand desired her love, Chintamoneysuppressed everything with all his might. Every emotion seemed to him as a barrier that was supposed to stop him from thinking about how he would become rich one day! Those days had gone past and so had those years of untold affection of little Radhikawhose affection Chintamoneyhad never reciprocated. At this juncture, after so many years, Chintamoneyfelt an unexpected pinch in his heart.
As Chintamoneystood silently, he observed that little boy of about ten-years stood holding Radhika’shands.
Before Chintamoney’stransactional soul could brush away the sudden gust of emotions. Radhikalooked at him with her large expressive eyes and asked, “How are you?”
Chintamoneypaused a while and replied, “I am fine. How are you? And who is this young man?”
Radhikabroke down in tears and replied, “I am not good. I am a single mother and this is my son Raghu. He is suffering from a critical ailment of a malignant disease of the liver! I need a lot of money for his treatment, else he will pass away! He is all that I have… Please help me! I have faced rejection from everyone. Nobody is ready to help us financially. I don’t know what to do!”
As the words emerged out of Radhika’svoice, Chintamoneystared at the despondent kid. In his eyes, he could see his own childhood where money was never enough. However, there was something more in those eyes that haunted him. There was a question… Is money always enough? Can it buy everything? What is happiness and how can we buy it? Can it buy innocence? Can it buy life? Can it buy love? Nobody asked these questions but Chintamoneyfelt their pricks deep within the layers of his flab and inside his throbbing heart.
Chintamoneywas speechless for some time. Then, he got up, almost mechanically as if drawn by a controlling inner force. He took out his cheque-book and wrote a cheque worth a fortune and handed it over to Radhika.
The latter looked at the figure on the cheque and then asked with an awe in her eyes, “Thanks! But, I don’t think I can ever refund this money! Do you want anything in return? I only have my own self, that I can offer you in return! I am ready to do so for the sake my son! The people say that you never do anything for FREE…”
Chintamoneysat down on the sofa with a thump. These last words shattered him. He somehow gathered his disposition then quietly replied, “No, I don’t want anything in return… just never come back to me again! And take care of him… he is special.”
As Radhikawent away without further delay, Chintamoneylooked at the framed photographs of his parents. He felt that there was a sardonic smile on his father’s face. He could hear a distant voice… “My son, not everything can be equated with money! Don’t worry about it. The human being within us is more important. You need to be happy with life, because life is simple. It is not complex!”
“Yes Baba!” said Chintamoney, as if he was speaking with his deceased father, “I wish I had never grown up! What have I earned in my whole life? I wish Chintamaninever became Chintamoney! I wonder, how life would have been then…”