There was a very rich man who was extremely cruel and miserly. His wife was kindhearted and affectionate, and full of sympathy for everyone. No one liked the husband, but everyone liked the wife. However, she thought, “God gave me this bad husband, so what can I do? Nobody likes him, so at least I should.” She was kind to him and served him day and night.
A famine struck the region where they lived, and many villagers came to them for help. The wife gave money to everyone and showered them with affection and sympathy. Her husband did not mind her generosity, in spite of his miserliness. He said, “As long as I don’t have to personally give, I’m satisfied.”
When she gave money to the people, they said, “We’re only borrowing this money. We’ll pay you back.”
She said, “No. You don’t have to pay it back. It’s a gift. just take it.”
They refused, saying, “No. We’ll repay you when the famine is over.”
She said, “If you really want to repay me, then give me the money the day my husband dies.”
Some people were shocked to hear her talk like this. Others thought that when her husband died, she would have many expenses for the funeral and that was why she said this.
One of their sons happened to be present when his mother made this odd statement. The son loved both parents dearly, but when he heard what she said, he was angry. He went to his father and told him, “Mother is asking people to repay the money she’s giving them after your death.”
The father could not believe this. “How can she say this? She always gives money freely, so why is she now asking them to return the money and why does it have to be after my death?”
The husband went to the wife and asked her, “Tell me why you’re asking people to return the money after I die?”
She said, “You don’t understand. You see, people don’t like you. They hate you. Everybody wants you to die today, but many people have taken lots of money from me, and by nature people don’t want to pay it back. From now on, instead of thinking of your death, they will pray to God to keep you alive so that they don’t have to pay it back. I want you to live for many, many years. Who knows? One day you may also become very affectionate, kindhearted and sympathetic.
“I played a trick. I want them to pray to God every day that you live. This will make me happy. Who cares for the money? I want you to live for a very long time.” The husband was extremely touched by his wife’s wisdom and love for him and he vowed to be more compassionate toward others.
by Sri Chinmoy