99 Syndrome- Are you also a Cobbler like me ?

My grandfather was a master storyteller. And listening to his stories was one of the prime attractions of the long summer vacations, eating bucket full of mangoes being the other. He excelled in narrating stories from Indian theology mostly but sometimes he narrated random stories full of morals. “Ninyaanwe ka Fera (The 99 Syndrome) is one such story:

Long ago, there lived a wealthy businessman in a small town. He owned many shops there. He had acres of agricultural land in the nearby rural area. He lived affluently. His family got to eat the best food and wear the best silks. They lived a prosperous life. The kids were doing well at their studies. The businessman’s wife was managing the house and servants well. It was a life that everyone dreams of, but they were not happy. The businessman returned back to his home late in the night, quickly munched his food and went to sleep. Kids woke up and slept at time, they seldom got to see their father. After her husband and kids were gone, the businessman’s wife felt terribly lonely. She felt strangulated. The marbles of her house haunted her.

A cobbler lived right beside her house. The cobbler mended shoes in the main town market. He went in the afternoon and came back home in the evening. He made just about enough money to provide two meals to his family a day. But his family rejoiced every moment. They always dined together. After eating the cobbler started singing some folk song and his family joined him too. They sang for what seemed like an eternity and then slept peacefully. A beautiful smile adorned the cobbler’s wife’s face. She never seemed lonely or depressed. The businessman’s wife hated the fact that a poor family was happier than her own rich and prosperous family.

One fine day, she stopped the businessman who was rushing to one of his shops as usual. She narrated the entire story to him. The businessman listened to the story and smiled. He said that the cobbler’s family hasn’t fallen prey to The 99 Syndrome. The businessman’s wife got confused. She asked him to explain. The businessman asked his wife to bring ninety nine 1 Rupee coins, place the coins in a bag and throw it in the Cobbler’s house in the night. She did as directed.

The cobbler’s elder son found the bag the very next day and presented it to his father. The cobbler got excited. He thanked the god for taking pity on their poverty. He then asked his wife to hide the money somewhere safely. He worked till late to earn an extra rupee that day so that he could make a full hundred rupees saving. That day there was no family dining. There were no songs that night.

The businessman then told his wife that now the family has fallen prey to The 99 Syndrome. They’ll keep saving to add an extra rupee every day. The 99 never converts to 100, because with 100 as the saving, people start trying for 500 and then a thousand and so on…It’s a vicious cycle. It never ends.

And he was right. The cobbler’s family stopped dining together, they stopped singing. The cobbler’s wife appeared worried most of the times. The cobbler now went to work in the morning and continued working till late in the night. His savings kept on increasing; his happiness went for a toss.

So how many cobblers do we have? Are you also the one? Count me in. I certainly am one.

Clicked this someday when I was sitting in office and wondering !