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I Invest, So That I Live Like a Man…Not a Donkey, Dog or Monkey

In my collection of short stories that I have found on the Internet or in books and magazines, here is one that I believe carries a deep meaning, and a harsh truth, for our lives.

Here it goes.

God created the donkey and said to him:
“You will be a donkey. You will work un-tiringly
From sunrise to sunset carrying burdens on your back
You will eat grass, you will have no intelligence
And you will live 50 years.”
The donkey answered:
“I will be a donkey, but to live 50 years is much. Give me only 20 years.”
God granted his wish.

God created the dog and said to him:
“You will guard the house of man. You will be his best friend
You will eat the scraps that he gives you and you will live 30 years.”
The dog answered:
“Sir, to live 30 years is too much. Give me only 15 years.”
God granted his wish.

God created the monkey and said to him:
“You will be a monkey. You will swing from branch to branch doing tricks
You will be amusing and you will live 20 years.”
The monkey answered:
“To live 20 years is too much. Give me only 10 years.”
God granted his wish.

Finally God created man…and said to him:
“You will be man, the only rational creature on the face of the earth
You will use your intelligence to become master over all the animals
You will dominate the world and you will live 20 years.”
Man responded: “Sir, I will be a man but to live only 20 years is very little.
Give me the 30 years that the donkey refused,
The 15 years that the dog did not want
And the 10 years the monkey refused.”
God granted man’s wish.

And since then, man lives 20 years as a man,
Spends 30 years like a donkey,
Working and carrying all the burdens on his back.

Then when his children are grown,
He lives 15 years like a dog taking care of the house
And eating whatever is given to him.

So that when he is old,
He can retire and live 10 years like a monkey,
Going from house to house and from one son or daughter to another
Doing tricks to amuse his grandchildren.

That’s Life.

Indeed, that’s life!
I have seen people all around me living an exact life as described above.

From living like a man, to a donkey, then a dog, and then a monkey…all in one lifetime.

This process of growing and evolving brings with it seasons of freedom and joy, but it also carries immense fear and loss of personal worth.

The “what if’s” of life become a vivid reality and people find themselves torn between:

  • Independence…after years of hard work and doing things their way, and
  • Dependence…on their children and their children for money and love.

“We will do ourselves a favour by not expecting anything from our children when we grow old,” my wife tells me time and again.

“But why? Aren’t our children, whom we love and care for so much, supposed to take care of us when we grow old?” I ask.

“They may, dear! But why live with the expectation and then see it dashed?” she explains like a saint. “That’s why we must continue to save and invest so that we don’t have to depend on anyone for our living when we are old…not even our children.”

Then she recounts how Mrs. X’s aging parents and Mr. Y’s grandparents are having a tough time depending on their children who are least bothered.

“These are the same children whose parents never left them alone, afraid, or ignored, but kept them close at hand, always watching, always present…always there.”

“Indeed that’s the sad irony of our lives, dear!” I tell her.

“Yes, and that’s why we must be financially free so that we don’t have to live like a donkey, dog or monkey when we are old and incapacitated,” she says while I open my list of investments to check whether I’m investing enough or not.

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About the Author

Vishal Khandelwal is the founder of Safal Niveshak. He works with small investors to help them become smart and independent in their stock market investing decisions. He is a SEBI registered Research Analyst. Connect with Vishal on Twitter.


  1. True.
    Therefore first save and then spend what is left after saving instead of the other way around.
    In India, I believe that atleast 15% is the inflation CAGR, atleast for the urban consumption basket. Economic independence for the vast majority is a myth.
    Nonetheless, one should do whatever one can which is save and invest sensibly.

    • To defeat 15% inflation, you have to be 1) Warren Buffet or likes, 2) a brilliant employee, 3) a cunning scheming employee, 4) a crony capitalist / politician, 5) or the donkey followed by dog followed by monkey!

      15% inflation cannot be defeated by most people, the more you try, the less human you will be in that attempt. Maybe I am wrong, but tell me another way.

  2. RichFellow says:

    Let’s imagine i am retired with some good fortune due to my hard work and sound investment planning. I am living happily and enjoying my retired life on my own.
    Now if my child married, with two little kids, is completely broke due his insensible earning, spending and saving habits, comes to me and asks for some financial support, will i not support him?
    As per my Indian upbringing and emotions, i will certainly give him every available penny to bail him out.
    Moral of the story, you are happy only if u have:
    Sensible wife.
    Sensible childrends.
    good health and
    reasonable wealth.

  3. Nice story Vishalji. Thanks for insulting openly :-). Yes, I am living a life of donkey, guilty as charged, but I refuse to live the dog and monkey’s life. Atleast, I hope and work towards it.
    I have lived considerably amount of my work life abroad and it is very common to see parents not expecting anything from their kids and kids too don’t want to be with their parents after 18years because they want to make their own life. This may sound strange to us due to the cultural difference, the world is flat now. Cross-cultural adaptation is very common in India as well. So, the day is not too far when we will be made to believe not to expect anything from our kids.
    Expectations should always be kept to the least with anyone, I sound stereotype like my mother, it’s very effective though. She has given a lot in her life for me and still loves unconditionally and without expectations. And I will do the same when it comes to her. Our culture is sometimes thought of bizarre but it’s the best. We love, live and share together. Life is better this way.

  4. Hari Kumar says:

    Dear Vishal,

    This article provided a great insight on all the effort and time I am wasting on my daily life. No doubt, one of the great articles read so far….

    Hats off you sir, you are changing my life.. never forget you.


  5. Sanjeev Bhatia says:

    Great article. Got link of this via facebook today only.

    One of our teachers in CFP used to say, “There is no worse curse than dependent old age”. Entirely true.

    Another aspect is, our children, depsite their best intentions, may not be able to help us in our old age due to their own problems and liabilities. It would be much, much better for us to plan our retirement well in advance to take care of our sunset years. The earliest you start, the better it is.

    Unfortunately, people understand the implications of the word “Retirement Planning” too late.

    • That’s the sorry part, Sanjeev! I was actually reminded of this article after seeing yesterday’s episode of Satyamev Jayate – on how parents must prepare for their future apart from worrying about their children’s. It was a stark reminder.

      Anyways, thanks a lot for your comment!

  6. Manish Sharma says:

    That’s my only fear Vishal! I am not a materialistic person, but old age dependency and prohibitive healthcare expenditure are the only two things I need money for.
    Sanjeev is right, people understand the implications of the word ‘Retirement Planning’ too late, but in India except for stock market there are very little avenues where one can invest for future income.

    • Most of us are sailing in the same boat, Manish! But a good asset allocation can always help us sail safely. Of course given the rising inflation, whatever you save and invest is always at the risk of eroding, but then the only thing in our hands is to – act, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

  7. Anil Jani says:

    The correct art of living in retire age is…

  8. Stark reminder, Vishal. But you leave us with very little options. There are many without jobs, so how will they save much to invest? And the job base rates are reducing too (chances of getting a well paying job). I think you have stated something that cannot be overcome only financially. Most of us will pretend we understand the gravity of this, then we will become more of a donkey or a dog at our jobs to save more, then we will attempt to be Buffet’s in order to beat inflation, but get too active in the pursuit if higher returns & most will end up on or below market averages, then continue being dogs or monkeys (since other fitter donkeys have since replaced them). But for a few exceptional among us, I am afraid the majority will end up monkey’s and die. This previous statement will only make many fight harder to avoid that inevitable fate, only to increase their hurriedness and competitive spirit to grab more and more of what is less and less. This invariably will spread the trap. Not surprising that most end up destitute, even the more educated (I know many such examples). There is a way out, but it means collectively choosing to compete less, hurry less, share more, breath deeply etc. Will this collective consciousness develop, I don’t know? Our only choice, work on ourselves.

  9. Maheswar Reddy says:

    After having watched elderly people in my own family and in the families of relatives and friends, there is one aspect which should be taken care of by everyone and that is basic health and fitness levels. “Health is wealth” is one truth that is going to stare at us all when we get old and one that most people ignore in their early life. Money is important no doubt but when we get old what we need along with money is also some basic level of fitness. I have seen families with healthy elderly people and also families with elderly people with severe health issues. My observation is that the family with healthy people is much happier and are able to take care of their elders more easily.

    In today’s busy world most of the people seem to find time for everything under the sun except time for some exercise or other forms of physical fitness activities. All in my opinion…..

    • You raised a very-very important point, Maheswar. It’s only when an illness strikes that we understand the importance of keeping good health. Sadly, it is forgotten again when you get better. Hope more people gave greater priority to their health. Regards.

  10. Chandrasing Jadhav says:

    What if a man don’t get marry! He will live 20 years as a man, 30 donkey and remaining 25 as a man again!!


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