In 1957, happiness cost 5 paise. Just introduced, the new Indian currency was a joy to hold, and the first child in class to add up the glittery coins accurately 20 times received a prize of "Panji", which counted a lot then, even in market value.
It was my pocket allowance. Even the richest parents wouldn't give their children more. Putting it into my hand, father would encourage me, saying: "Dharam, you are a lovely chap, make yourself sparkle from inside, too. Even gold's worth is inside, though it also shines from outside when polished."
In two years, I grew weak in mathematics, and my mother, who believed in superstitions, thought I had been cursed. One day, when father was at work in field, a wandering palmist came to our house and mother asked him to read my hand. He moved it from side to side, yawned, turned his mouth skyward, and said: "Mai, the boy has no education line. He will drive bullocks and till the fields, where one day a snake will bite him to death. But I can remedy it, provided you pay its price." Out of fear, mother pleaded: "Panditji, please help...I'll give you a cauldron full of wheat."
Father arrived just when the palmist was about the leave with his bounty. Seeing him, the palm reader took to his heels, leaving behind the wheat bag, which father gave away to a lame, blind beggar. For my fear of mathematics, he told me it was my own creation. Its origin was in the beating I had received in early childhood from the headmaster, who also taught us the subject.
I learned to overcome the problem, and that nothing happens by chance. One has to make opportunities count. Providence had taught me a lesson, not to believe in providence, and rather work towards solution.
Today, money counts a lot more, and yet rupee's value has declined. Corrupt people have more money than they can count; and yet all our ill-gotten crores bring us no joy worth 5 paise. Money has turned black, as the country has lost its inside sparkle, its golden character. The humble rupee weeps. How to restore its shine? How will its free fall stop?