Most of us will have had the misfortune to live disgusting moments watching folks flaunt their wealth- writing away cheques to the Church, other religious and charitable endowments. Their face mulched with haughtiness, moue and with glee. A certain satisfaction would writ in their face and comforts their mind coming to think that the apparent act of benevolence would cocoon them from nemesis. Further it is the adulation that comes when the act of munificence is publicised. Finally, the thought of the eulogies that would be incessantly read out in memorial services after they are gone! They will enjoy the vainglory even as they lay putrefacient in their graves! The philanthropists!
Philanthropy as practiced often shamelessly is as lascivious as philandering. I just cannot tell between the two, see any difference. Both are indulged in, one to satisfy the ego and the later gagging. And some folks do both.
However some are different and this guy is quite different. He cannot be called a philanthropist, because he doesn’t think that giving is the ultimate act of charity. In fact, he believes that the act of giving must make a substantial change in the life of the receiver. Failing which it is just an empty act like the ostensible statutory reservation that is provided to socially backward people in education and jobs in government.
Going back to his tale of riches from an ordinary middle class existence some twenty five odd years ago one feels envious and at the same time awe. He told me about the specter of future staring without bating its eyes. He was married and the young bride and he were travelling by train from Vizag to Kerala precariously perched on top of their steel trunks that held their belongings inside an overcrowded, smelly second class compartment. The future looked bleak. He was out of job and was not certain if he could collect the small capital that two of his friends suggested he bring so that they could begin a venture. The only source of income was the job his wife had as the teacher in a government owned Engineering college. It was then quite meager, but handy nevertheless and very vital.
From there, in a while life took a turn that he and his wife could not fathom. The business that he began with his partners flourished and exponentially too. Within a few years they spread overseas. A new life with remarkable shift, riches and money flowing in copiously and it continues. It is indeed different in a rich man’s world he would say later.It seemed almost like little Alice falling down the rabbit hole into a wonderland.
Now in the mid fifties he opined that matters like success and money are irrelevant to him. It has been so he says since long. He began practicing the art of giving after him, one day some fifteen years ago asked his wife if she really wanted to keep the job she had. Money was no more a necessity for her to be working. Children were growing and she could probably blend as a home maker. Besides inquisitive and intrusive opinions were passed in the family and among friends about her being employed and they alleged too greedy and self serving that she has little time to care for her family. She told him that she would like to keep the job, not for the money, but because of the passion she has for the profession- for teaching. Then, the very moment he suggested that she foregoes her monthly pay from the university and give it to students who are genuinely in need of financial support. Since that day, he said, it has been fifteen years and she would not touch a nickel from her pay cheque and personally ensured to credit the bank accounts of children who were finding it difficult to pay fees and other cost.
That was just one case of his voluntary promotion of human welfare. He dislikes limelight and as in his own words the left hand shouldn't be told about what the right gives away.
There is something else besides money that can come to the aid of people. I saw used that well in him intervening as a good Samaritan and counselor when hard times and difficult issues almost plowed down the family of a good friend. Isn’t it so very true that the greatness of a man is not how much of wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and ability to affect those around him positively?
The wads of note one throws into the cash pots in places of worship, the large cheques signed off to prelates, the ostensible charity all which many do are seldom done out of love for the disadvantaged but as insurance against the malice and wretchedness that in many cases are their associates and as a passport to a nonexistent paradise in the netherworld. But there are a few exceptions, I suppose.