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When I was a child, my favourite story was ‘The Woodcutter and his axe’. The story was like this- There was a hard working woodcutter in a forest. He was cutting trees one day when by mistake, his axe slipped out of his hands and fell into the river. The river was deep so he couldn’t think of a way to find it back. He started praying to God and suddenly the water Goddess appeared in front of him. She went under the water and one by one brought axes for him so that he could choose the one he owned. First, she showed him a silver axe asking him if it was his. To this, the woodcutter denied saying it did not belong to him. Next, the goddess brought him a golden axe and asked him if it was his. To this also, the woodcutter replied that it wasn’t his. Then finally the goddess showed him an iron axe seeing which the woodcutter heaved a sigh of relief and said it was his. The goddess became happy with his honesty and as a reward gave him all the three axes.

Being inspired by this story ever since my childhood, I always tried to be as honest as the woodcutter. I remember returning an extra chewing gum to the grocery owner, an extra drawing sheet to the stationery shop owner and an extra game coin to the video game shop owner. The video game shop owner even rewarded me with an extra game coin the next time I went to play there. All these years, the morals of honesty have remained as strong as ever in my mind and my heart. I strongly believe in the power of Karma and that we have to clear all our dues in this life only.

But looking at the people around me, I wonder where this world is heading to! Fraud, deception and cheating are increasing each day and there is no honesty and no fear of God left. People want more of everything. Those who have education, need a job; those who have a job, need a better job; those who have a handsome salary, need a big house; those who have a big house, need a big car and it goes on and on. Having aspirations and desires is not wrong but striving to achieve them by hook or by crook is definitely wrong.

Let’s re-write my favourite story according to the reality of today- There was a clever woodcutter in a forest. He was cutting trees one day when by mistake, his axe slipped out of his hands and fell into the river. The river was deep so he couldn’t think of a way to find it back. He started praying to God and suddenly the water goddess appeared in front of him. She went under the water and one by one brought axes for him so that he could choose the one he owned. First, she showed him an iron axe asking him if it was his. To this, the woodcutter denied saying it did not belong to him. Next, the goddess brought him a silver axe and asked him if it was his. Seeing this, the woodcutter thought he might get an even bigger and better offer next so he denied again. Then finally the goddess showed him a gold axe seeing which the woodcutter’s happiness knew no bounds and he said that this one was his. The goddess gave him the gold axe knowing that he was cheating and that he will have to repay for his wrong deeds. On the other hand, the woodcutter went away with the gold axe, sold it off at a high price and enjoyed a lavish life for a good number of days. Whatever happened later on and how he had to pay for his sins is another story. But for now, we all know he cheated and was not even guilty about it. He had the courage to lie to God and acquire something which wasn’t his. He wanted to enjoy with the money he received from selling it without being afraid of the repercussions.

In the hustle bustle of life, we people forget the real meaning behind our existence. We forget that our aim is not to acquire everything but to be content with whatever we own. Life is not about owning possessions but having good relationships. Life is not about pulling the other person down for going up the ladder of success and prosperity but it is about holding hands with the people around us and climbing the ladder together. But this is exactly what is not happening these days.

How many times do we read in the newspapers or hear stories of brothers and sisters fighting for parents’ property? We have also witnessed episodes of big shot families where relatives end up taking each others’ life for the sake of money. All our lives we keep running after money but after a point we realise that we are left with nothing else but money. We become very rich in terms of our bank balance but too poor in terms of our morals.

I want to share few episodes from my life where I witnessed people cheating on me. One day I went to buy grocery with my mom from a store we had been buying from around 8 years now. On checking the bill, we figured out that the grocery store staff had tried to cheat on us by generating an incorrect bill. Biscuits which were worth Rs. 5/- were billed at Rs. 50/- and similar alterations were done for other products. On questioning the staff, they pretended as if they hadn’t done anything wrong and it was the system’s fault. It was clearly evident from their faces that they were trying to mislead us. 

On another occasion, I was working for a client for their marketing. I put all my efforts so as to yield good results for them. We had agreed that they will make advance payment to me for my work. Just one month, I delayed taking advance. On asking them for the payment, the client said it will be done and they will not run away with my money. Taking assurance of her words and trusting her, I worked day and night to complete her work. After the month’s work was complete, the client stopped taking my calls and started ignoring my messages. After a lot of efforts, they did talk to me but told me a false story saying that I had actually not completed my work and then they refused to make the entire month’s payment to me.

How and when such people will be punished for their wrong deeds, I don’t know. I just get amazed by looking at such people. More than feeling annoyed, I feel sad. I feel sad for them who, for the sake of some money are ready to put their dignity at stake. They might not show in front of us that they are ashamed of their doings, but as my mom says, every night when they close their eyes and recollect the day’s happenings, they know it in their hearts what they did which shouldn’t have been done!

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