During our childhood days we read a number of stories from Aesop’s Fables and many other story books. These stories have Morals also. Here I would like to reproduce the story with the title ‘The Monkey and Cats’, as under:
It was the aftermath of a big festival. Two cats were prowling together. One of the cats saw a big cake and mewed. The other jumped and picked it up. The first cat said, “Give me the cake. It is I saw it first.” The other cat said, “Keep away from if. It is I who picked it up.”
They were fighting and fighting. But there was no solution. Just then a monkey passed by. He thought, “What foolish cats they must be! Let me make use of this chance.”
He came to the cats and said in a loud voice,“Don’t fight. Let me share the cake among you both.” The cake was handed over to the monkey.
The monkey split the cake into two parts. He shook his head and said,”Oho! One is bigger. One is smaller.” He had a bit of the bigger and then said, “Oho! This has become smaller now.” He ate from the other. And thus, he went on eating from part to part and finally finished the whole cake.
The poor cats without getting even the taste of the cake became disappointed and started cursing themselves.
Moral of the story: When you quarrel someone else gains.
That was a moral story but now what I am going to narrate here, is a real life story where I could play an important role. The story goes like this:
It was 1985 when I was posted in a village Branch. It was catering to a large number of villages in a radius of around 10 KM, particularly for lending under Agriculture and Government Sponsored Schemes. While I along with the Agriculture Assistant used to visit those villages frequently for the purpose of follow up and recovery of loan accounts, I used to talk to some comparatively well-to-do people for deposits as I had a stiff target to achieve in deposits. During one such visits, we reached a village (Let us name it ‘Jaypur’) where villagers appeared to very progressive and men of means. It was located around 5 KM from the Branch but on enquiry, it transpired that these people had no accounts in the Bank. I talked to them on why one should keep money in Bank as well as the various risks involved in keeping the money at home. It was also added that nobody would come to know anything about their accounts. In other words, full secrecy of the accounts would be maintained.
That started producing the desired results. People from all those villages started opening accounts and keeping their hard earned money with the Bank. As the story relates to two brothers from Jaypur village, I would like to keep myself confined to it. One day a gentleman from that village came to my chamber with a bag in hand. He reminded me of meeting him at their village. To be frank, I could easily recognise him as we had a cup of tea at his drawing room. He appeared to be a little anxious.
I offered him a cup of tea and asked him, “What can I do for you?” He said to me in a very low voice, “I shall open an account in your branch and deposit some money. But I find some people from our village in the hall. I am here with you as I don’t want them to know the amount I shall deposit.” I got his account opened and money deposited (Rs. 1 lac) in his new account. He then thanked me and left my chamber. After 15 – 20 minutes, he again came back and told me, “I shall deposit more money in phases but you have to keep it secret from everybody, particularly my brother.” I told him that we are bound by rules not to divulge any information to anybody other than the tax authorities. He appeared to be fully satisfied and left.
In a Branch situation, Branch Manager is always running against time as there are a large number of areas which need his / her attention. During business hours, a number of customers / potential customers also visits him. The position was no different for me. One day when a person entered my chamber, I wished him and requested him to take a seat. It appeared to me that the person was both happy and a little uncomfortable. Anyway, I asked him, “What can I do for you?” He replied that he would like to open an account to deposit cash. This made me to understand that he was a different man and not the one whom I knew. He also told me the same way, the earlier man said i.e., as he would like to deposit a large sum he didn’t want the others to know that. I arranged for opening of his account and accepting cash. While taking tea, out of curiosity I asked him, ”Do you have any brother?” He instantly replied, “Yes, I have my elder brother but how do you know?” I told him that I met a similar person in his village. As he was in a hurry, he told me not to share anything about opening of account with his brother. On getting the full assurance, he told me that he would tell me about his elder brother next time and left the chamber.
After almost a month, the elder brother (I could differentiate then) again came to me to deposit some money. I arranged for the same and threw him the question, “How many brothers do you have?” Apparently, he was not comfortable with the question but responded, “Yes, I have only one brother, younger to me but why are you asking this to me?” I told him that a few days back, one gentleman came to the Bank. It appeared to me that he was your brother from his appearance. He immediately asked me whether I told him about his opening of account in the Bank. I once again confirmed him, “It is simply ruled out as Bank is committed to maintain secrecy.” I further added that when I asked him the same question, he avoided telling me anything. At that juncture, the elder brother told me, “It is really a very sad episode as without any fault of mine, he cut off the relationship with me and my family.” He was apparently very upset and left the Bank saying,’Namaskar’. For a few minutes, I was loosely thinking what was wrong with those two brothers.
The time which does not know how to wait was moving ahead with full speed and I was also terribly busy with multi – tasking. However, I became very curious to know the exact problem between two brothers once I saw the younger brother coming inside the chamber. As his work was getting completed, I could not resist the temptation of reminding him his commitment of telling about his elder brother. He agreed and told me, “As you know I have my elder brother who is 10 years older than me. When I was around 15 years old, my father died. Ours was a joint family but we got separated about 5 years back. At the time of division of our landed (Agricultural) property, it came to my knowledge that my elder brother cunningly managed to get 5 bighas of land from my father. In the process, he has deprived me of my share of 2.5 bighas of land. I wanted to know the reason for this. He told me that father gifted the land to reward him for his contribution towards the family. I do not believe his version. To get equal share of land, I consulted a lawyer and as per his advice, I filed a suit against him in Pakaur (a Sub-Division) court which is still continuing”. Telling this, he asked me whether he was wrong but without awaiting my response, he bade goodbye and left.
I got the version of younger brother and was eagerly waiting for the version of the elder one. You may wonder why I was so much interested. To be frank, I took a vow to get the dispute settled out of court. And, I didn’t have to wait for long. The elder brother came to me as usual. While his works were getting over, I started discussion over a cup of tea. Initially he was reluctant but when I asked him about the dispute with his brother on account of landed property, he started trembling out of rage. However, controlling himself soon, he told me, “Do you know what he did? If he was unhappy with me on account of father’s gifting me some extra land, he should have talked to me. Instead, he consulted his friends and on their advice, he filed a case against me. It is such a shameful act on his part that even today, I cannot think of it. Villagers are thinking that I have deprived my younger brother which is not the fact. However, to protect my dignity, I also had to file a case against him. You tell where I have gone wrong?” I told him, “Mr. Mondal, I appreciate your sentiment. It is certainly an unfortunate episode as two brothers living side by side have turned into enemies for some misunderstandings. While the cases have been continuing for years and money is flowing out from both of you.” I then told him the story of ‘The Monkey and Cats’ and compared the monkey with the lawyers. He was in total agreement with me and added that it was not only money but the harassment also. I then asked him, “What according to you can resolve the issue so that the two brothers can live together and the people who are enjoying it get a worthy reply?” He told me that he would require some time and would let me know within a week. From his reaction, it was clear to me that he would like to settle the issue once for all.
After a few days, the younger brother came to the Bank. As his works were getting over, I told him the same story and explained to him how the lawyers had been exploiting them and how others were enjoying their quarrel. He instantly said, “Yes, Manager Saab, I agree with you totally. But he has cheated me. How can I forget it? I am really fed up with the court case but now it is a matter of my prestige.” I told him, “Yes, I accept your logic but how long will you allow the case to be dragged. In any case, you will get a share of 2.5 bighas of land. Can you not think that you have given that land to your nephew and withdraw the case?” His reply was that it was not possible at this stage as he did not do anything wrong. I asked him, “Can you not talk to your elder brother and ask for your share? If that is also not possible, what according to you can resolve the issue out of court?” His responses were very simple, “I will withdraw the case only after getting my share but I am not willing to
talk to my brother.” I told him, “Okay, let me talk to your elder brother and I shall call you here if something positive comes through.” He nodded his head and then left the Bank.
Immediately after his departure, telephone started ringing. In those days, there were not many telephone connections. Moreover, they used to remain out of orders most of the time. So I thought it must be a false call and as such, I picked it up very reluctantly. To my surprise, it was a genuine call. The person at the other end was Mr. Mondal, the elder brother. He told me in a very simple tone, “We have discussed this in the family. We all want to get rid of the court case. I am ready to share the land with my brother. I request you to please convince my brother to tell me that he was wrong and has to say “Sorry” to me. You please help us.” It was apparent from his voice that he was very much frustrated and wanted to get rid of this hassle.
Getting the commitment from the elder brother, I decided to send intimation to the other brother to meet me. He obliged me without delay. I told him exactly the same thing which was said to me by elder Mondal. He agreed instantly and smiled like a winner. He then expressed a sigh of relief from the ordeal and requested me to do the needful urgently. I told him that I would inform the date once I fixed the date with his brother but gave him a tentative date of next Saturday afternoon.
Finally, 3 p.m. on Saturday was fixed for the reconciliation meeting. At first, the elder brother came in. After 15 minutes, the younger one also reached. He was hesitating to come inside. I called him and asked him to take a seat. He sat with his head down. I started the discussion and requested the younger brother to say sorry. He could not talk but started crying profusely. Seeing his brother in that condition, the elder brother stood up and reached near him. The younger brother controlling himself a little also stood up. Immediately, the elder brother hugged his sibling with moist eyes. It was such a sentimental scene, I will remember for ever. To be frank, I also became sentimental in that particular moment. When they could control themselves to some extent, the younger brother told, “I am sorry, Bhaiya (elder brother). I was instigated by some people in the village to file a suit. I followed their advice blindly to get my share of land. I was completely blind and as a result, my action gave lot of pains to Bhaiya and his family, lots of anxiety to me and my family as also we both lost lots of money. I deserve punishment and I do not want my share any more. Bhaiya please pardon me.” The elder brother then told, “Let us forget what had happened. It was like a bad dream. I do not have any grudge or bad feeling against you. If you still feel that I have cheated you, you can take the entire 5 bighas of land.”
At that stage, I had to intervene. I told them, “I am really very happy to see both the brothers together in a happy mood. Be like that always and for God sake don’t quarrel. You have to decide among yourselves what you will do with the land. But what you need to do is to talk to the lawyer and submit a compromise proposal for withdrawing the case to the court immediately.” They nodded together in conformity. I then offered them sweets to celebrate the momentous occasion. Then they left together after thanking me from core of their hearts. You will agree with me that it was a great experience for me.
I joined SBI as a Probationary Officer in 1981. Since then, I have worked in various capacities as Branch Manager, Regional Manager and Deputy General Manager at different places. My specialised areas are Credit and General Banking.
I also was Chairperson of Reserve Bank of India Working Group on Evaluation of Feasibility of Aadhaar based Biometric Authentication as Additional factor of Authentication for card present transactions and related issues.
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