Mahesh was the youngest son of cloth merchant Kishan Lal. Every morning at 9 am Mahesh opened their family owned shop in the main market and oversaw business till 5 pm in the evening. Mahesh had to tally inventories, supervise sales and take care of cash box. Some days, he had to sit till 9 pm and close the shop.
Business was doing well, but Mahesh was dying? What about his dreams? He wanted to be a writer. In a family, where most adult men had joined family business after high school, Mahesh was an exception. He did M.A. in Hindi literature. He wanted to be a writer like Chetan Bhagat.
One evening, Mahesh gathered courage and addressed his father in front of other family members, – mother, older brother and his wife,
“Baapu, I cannot work in the shop any more. This nine to five work is killing my creativity. I did not do my post graduation, to sit in your cloth store from morning till evening. I want to do better things”
Kishan Lal kept quiet for a while. He had long felt his son was not interested in family business, when he wanted to do M.A. in Hindi literature. At least, if he had done MBA, the degree would be of some use to expand his business. Now he had no choice but to deal with the problem at hand,
“Beta, this nine to five job is putting food on the table and clothing your body. Don’t insult your source of living. Beta, it is your shop too. I had told so many times, a cloth merchant’s son should learn the business. But you were stubborn, and wanted to study literature. See what you have got yourself into. Now you are embarrassed to sit in the shop!”
“I am not embarrassed Baapu. Simply I don’t enjoy this job. I want to be a writer.”
“Beta do you think it is easy to be a writer? You need to earn money by selling your book, beta. I give you in writing, some day you will tuck your tail between your legs and come running to me for your share in the business!”
Given the direction the argument was taking, Kishan Lal’s older son and wife tried to mediate. “Look, you also fought with your father to set up your own shop, didn’t you? I remember going trhough similar arguments then. Why not let your son at least try a new thing?” his mother said.
Kishan Lal understood the point and internally agreed to what his wife was saying. But, he had to be neutral as family head,
“Who will run the business? I cannot sit in the shop all day long anymore. Suresh is newly married. He also needs some family time. He cannot be in the shop all day long.”
“Baapu, why not let Mahesh try out his dream for one year. Then he will come back if things don’t work out. I shall work hard at the business for one year.” His wife nodded her consent, as elder brother looked at her.
“If you all agree, I shall give one year holiday form work to Mahesh. But he will not get any pocket money, other than food at home. For his hobbies, he had to spend from his own savings.” The business man and family head Kishan Lal had declared.
Today, after almost nine months, Mahesh was reappraising his progress, sitting on his desk by the window in his study. This room was on the roof top of this two storied family house. He had started to write, he was not getting idea, despite all the facilities extended by his family. His time is running out fast as are his savings.
He has not much choice but to go back to his father and his family business. Yes everyone, his family members and employees in their shop, will be looking at him, there will be a smirk of derision on their faces, but he would not have any option but not to care. A promise is after all a promise. Mahesh will have to return.
As Mahesh decides to go back to his family business, I have the following points to add :
- This story of Mahesh bring up eternal question that we face in our society, should we get into a routine job or follow our dreams? Given the degree of unemployment, and widespread poverty many crush their dreams and ambitions and latch on to something they can put their hand on to. This may be practical but kills the dreamer.
- In the western societies an innovative and curious mind is cherished. They understand, doing something new is risky and rate of failure is very high.
- If Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, were afraid of failure, we probably will never know of an airplane. Brothers, had failed many a times before they succeeded in being air borne.
- Thomas Alva Edison who invented light bulb, among many other things had said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10000 ways that won’t work.”
- There must be safety net for people that try new things and eventually fail. As present governemnt is encouraging Start Up culture, it will be important to create safety net such that once a business fails, the entrepreneur / innovator has something to fall back on.
- No society can survive without encouraging innovation. I am glad that Mahesh was allowed to try out his dream by his family. Once Mahesh has set the ball rolling and prepared the ground in his mind, he may get his idea someday and may become a successful writer. Mahesh going back to business must be considered a tactical retreat. An idea may come anytime and anywhere. A rickshaw puller in West Bengal wrote novels and landed book contract from publishers. Certainly, Mahesh is working in a more exalted setting.
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