“Being mindlessly busy seems to be an incurable disease of your generation…”, Hari heard grandma’s angry voice as he entered home from work, and noticed that she was upset about something that his mom did not do well. “Now why the drooping shoulders, what happened to you?”, grandma asked as she noticed Hari. “Nothing granny, all good”, he said as he rushed to his room.
After dinner, Hari retired to his room and immersed himself into his laptop. He told everyone not to disturb him as there is “a pending deliverable” by tomorrow morning. Gradma approached slowly with a glass of warm milk, “now tell me nani(pet name of Hari), what is troubling you today?”.
“You don’t give up, do you grandma?”, Hari closed the lid. “No, not ever on those that I love so much, like my nani”.
“I let someone down at work today grandma”, Hari paused and took the glass of milk.
“We hired her to do something that requires more, let’s say, special knowledge about software..I mean, the work we do. And she did a great job. I was responsible from my company to submit it to my customer and my onsite, err, a manager placed in the same country as my customer. When they were praising me openly in a large forum, I took all the credit. I didn’t mention about Ramya, and that she was the one that did bulk of the work. I merely consolidated…gathered her work and that of others and submitted. She was in the room and kept smiling. She is like that, doesn’t expect any credit, but I should’ve informed everyone who was the real hero”, sighed Hari, as he finished the glass of milk alongside narrating the incident.
“Indeed, that is a very serious matter nani. I am glad you are thinking about it and didn’t waive it away”, said Grandma. “My friends told me to! They said ‘it is ok, everybody does it. You think our onsite team doesn’t take credit for the work we do? You think our customers don’t take credit for the work we do and tell it to their managers as if they have done everything? stop being ridiculous Hari, it is normal, people are manipulative and opportunistic’, they told me. But it doesn’t feel right and I feel bad for letting someone down after she put in so much hard work”, Hari looked at grandma with pleading eyes. “You just can’t let us both be to ourselves for a while?”, he yelled at his sister as she entered the room.
“What! Don’t bark at me like that! I thought grandma would be telling you a good story”, his sister cut back.
“Indeed! I have just the one, but this time, there is no quest involved Jyoti”, grandma lovingly took Jyoti into her lap. “If it helps me feel better, please grandma, I want to understand if I am thinking right and what should I do about it”, asked Hari.
Once upon a time, there was a unique village called Dhanyapuram. The people of the village were the kindest of souls, and lived as one big family. Those that visited the village for trade or for their rich vegetable markets felt extremely well taken care of. The hospitality was out of the world, and the dealings were very kind. It is said that no one could ever trick the people of this village, as they were protected by their collective good.
“Something really weird about them”, said a cloth trader from a neighboring village to another merchant on their way back from Dhanyapuram. “They spend a lot of time enquiring about our goods, who have helped make them, and they offer their thanks to each and every one. I thought at first that this was one eccentric person with a lot of time at his hand, but then every other customer who visited me to buy clothes did the same. They were not willing to buy unless I told them all about how we make the clothes, and who is involved. And they did not bargain for money, paid duly what I charged them”, he added. “I have similar experience, looks like they are simpletons”, remarked another.
Now there was a third merchant who was visiting Dhanyapuram for quite some time in his life. “Simpletons? far from it. It is their belief system that makes them behave so. They believe that if ‘one is not thankful for what they receive, the value of what is received vanishes sooner or later‘. They practice thankfulness as a way of life in that village. Do you know why no one can cheat them? Because they are so truthful themselves”, he said.
“What rubbish! I will prove you wrong, let us make a visit tomorrow again and test this out”, challenged the first merchant who was called Somu. So the three of them decided to make another trip to Dhanyapuram the next day.
Somu, the cloth merchant, Dina, the elder merchant and Anand, the third merchant visit Dhanyapuram and go to a small tiffin center. “I know the old lady that runs this place, she serves great local food”, said Dina as he wished the old woman who received them as if they were her close relatives. “Don’t they get bored with this ever-humble-act?”, Somu retorted. “Be gentle, she is not acting, she is a kind person”, said Dina.
They were served with local tiffins and other delicacies which they ate to their heart’s content. Dina requested the server to call for the old lady and when she arrived, he thanked her, the chef and the server for their kind treatment and tasty food. “This will sustain us for the day amma, God bless you”, he said and looked at the other two expecting them to follow along. Somu and Anand simply said, “ya it’s good. We might come back soon”. The old lady said, “we will be very happy to serve you again son”.
As soon as they stepped out of the center, Somu felt extremely light in the stomach as if he had not eaten in days. “I feel the same too, can’t believe we ate three-persons-fill just a few minutes ago”, said Anand. “Three persons fill? I ate more like three-oxens-fill, but I can’t move an inch without some food now”, cried Somu looking at Dina. “I told you before, this is a place where ‘thankfulness is a living trait’, if you don’t follow along, what you receive thanklessly will lose its effect instantly. Rush inside before it’s too late and thank the old lady and her staff heartfully, and if I might add with a sense of remorse”, advised Dina. Somu and Anand rushed back inside immediately to the old lady.
Through the rest of the day, Dina took the other two merchants around and explained to them the uniqueness of Dhanyapuram and its inhabitants. “They come together every week to thank their farmers and other craftsmen and understand if the village people can collectively help someone in need”, he said. “When I visited this place for the first time, I wanted to cheat these ‘simpletons’, by selling them poor quality material and buying all I want from their produce. But as soon as I left the village boundaries, all that I bought turned to dust and I had to immediately rectify my mistake”, he recollected.
“This appears too good to be true. Are there no others from the village who are thankless and unmindful? I mean that’s natural for the rest of us outside Dhanyapuram isn’t it? I don’t remember saying thank you to my mother in a long time, and she doesn’t seem to mind. Ya, I thank outside folk for formality, you got to do what you got to do for business right…”, Somu spoke honestly. “I am glad that the place is already having its effect on you, you are being very truthful”, Dina smiled. “Yes there are a few who do not practice it naturally, in fact you are in luck, see that young man approaching us? What do you make of him?”, asked Dina pointing at a pale looking young man.
“He is moving like he is carrying a ton of weight on his shoulders although he is not carrying anything. Why does he look like he hasn’t taken a bath in a while, haven’t seen someone look so dull & dark since morning”, remarked Anand.
“They call it ‘the weight of thanklessness‘ around here”, said Dina. “But the villagers don’t give up on such people. They see thanklessness as a disease, and people who happen to exhibit it, get special attention and even more support. The best way to deal with thankless people is by being kind to them and repeatedly reminding them of the support they have“, he added.
“From what we have seen so far, such people may not have the means to live on thier own very long here…”, reflected Somu. “Right you are brother, I am glad you have understood the power of this place, let us return now”, said Dina as he alighted the bullock cart.
“You made me feel even worse grandma”, cried Hari. “I will apologize to Ramya first thing tomorrow. No, I will send an email right now to my managers and customers and tell them about the real hero of our recent project”, he announced. “Very good nani, that is indeed a good thing to do. Give credit where it’s due, else you incur the weight, like you have now”, smiled grandma.
“But I have a few questions grandma. It is easy to be thankful if every place is like Dhanyapuram where the majority are like that. But in the real world it is just the opposite, it is not easy to exhibit this, and I am not sure if people really care and respect the ones that are being thankful. Like I did to Ramya today, people exploit good people. She always says that although she did not get permanent employment with our company, she is so thankful for having a job, and she doesn’t mind who gets to take the credit, such a noble soul”, Hari spoke fast as he got worried that his mother might come by and call off the story-telling party anytime.
“By saying so, you are judging everyone nani. Not everything and everyone is so negative. And even if that were to be true, you should practice being thankful as thanklessness and stealing credit that belongs to someone else adds a lot of weight to the mind. If it becomes a habit, then one eventually becomes numb, and will lose self-appreciation. Such people also tend to look constantly for outside praise. I and your grandfather have seen such people when we were growing up, I am sure it is the same now also…”, she paused, “…and nani, Dhanyapuram very much exists, let me wait till you finish sending your mail, then I will continue”.
“Done”, announced Hari after a few minutes. “How do you feel now nani?”, mocked Jyoti.
“As if a ton of weight has been lifted away from me, thanks junior grandma”, Hari winked at her. “Really, where is this Dhanyapuram grandma?”, he asked.
“Inside ourselves nani. When you came home and up until a few moments ago you were carrying the weight yourself…”
“…exactly like that young man in the story granny?”, interrupted Jyoti. “Oh keep quiet now! let her speak”, shouted Hari.
“Tut tut, don’t quarrel so soon. Yes dear, like the young man in the story. That is the negative side. But on the other hand, if one is sincere and puts their heart and mind in what they do, no one can steal it, for long. As they say ‘hard work never goes waste‘. This is another moral of Dhanyapuram, which is a play in our mind”, said grandma.
“But it is so difficult to believe, many times I am told, we don’t hear back nor get appreciation for what we deliver…err…the work we submit?”, asked Hari.
“Remember this nani, you mentioned earlier also that your colleagues tell you how bad everyone is – don’t believe everything you hear, unless you examine it for yourself. Most times people are not bad, but repeated negative talk and perceptions make them so. And as the village people do, be kind even to those who are being thankless to you or appear to be stealing your credit. They will turn around soon.”, she spoke in a comforting tone.
“Okay I will try. But then, to be thankful I mean, isn’t it difficult to ask, in every interaction, let’s say if I buy a phone or if mom gives me something to eat, or if someone helps me at work, I mean, where is the time to ask ‘tell me how much effort you put, what did you do, who helped you to give me this object/service of value? and who all should I be thankful for?'”, Hari persisted, “…yeah, sometimes it’s easy if something big happens, like this project where Ramya did a great job, and it is visible, but not always it is so, isn’t it?”.
“Yes it must be difficult now, back in our times, life was somewhat simpler. But then that is the reason it is even more important to cultivate an attitude of being thankful, open and grateful, and not be in a rush to consume and look for the next thing to consume. And that is the pillar and real foundation“, she smiled. “Like all things nani, practice makes one perfect, this is the second moral from the village story – make it part of your life as an attitude, then it will reflect in your words and actions. People will notice how kind and receptive you are, and you will be amazed by how much you will be blessed in return by all those around you”.
“Indeed, this clarifies some of my queries. I will practice surely gradma. Let me start by thanking you for all the morals you have gives us since childhood…and…”, Jyoti cut in again, “…and all the laddus and sweets you bring everytime you visit us”.
“…yes for that too. I will narrate the story of Dhanyapuram in my team meeting, if I get a chance, people don’t hear such things as much as they hear some inciteful stuff…”, Hari sighed.
“Nah nah! put in your effort sincerely, and it will never go waste, don’t belittle others by thinking negatively about them often. Now off to bed, before my dear daughter freaks out, it is very late”, said grandma as she walked out with a dozing Jyoti from the room.