I received several email and text messages over the past few days with people asking about my whereabouts.
“Where have you been? No posts for the past two days?” emailed a reader.
“I hope you are fine,” wrote another.
“Alive?” asked a friend who is also a reader.
Well, if you have been wondering where I’d been over the past few days, just want to let you know that I am still here…alive and kicking.
Over the past few days, I was in a small, nondescript town of Bankura in West Bengal – the place I was born.
This was a sudden trip, and I’d gone there to meet a man – Matadin – who has served our family for the past 55 years (out of his age of 70) in various roles and responsibilities.
Matadin had quit, and there was a small tremor within the family. We had grown so dependent on him and so accustomed to seeing him around us, that his quitting had raised fears of a sudden vacuum in our lives.
“You can’t quit, Matadin!” I told him the first thing as soon I met him on reaching Bankura.
“Why Vishal Babu?” (I had heard this word – babu, which means “sir” – in a long time but was used to such royal treatment from Matadin).
“Because our lives will be different without you being here!” I said.
“See babu, I have now grown old and feel incapacitated to deliver my responsibilities to my best!” he said.
“You are kidding, Matadin!” I said. “For the past 55 years, and without a single day off, you have been working tirelessly to serve my family. I have never seen you tired! So why now?”
“Babu, I’ve invested my whole life in your family, but now I am feeling tired and helpless. So want to quit!”
“You can’t, Matadin! I will not let you go! Nobody here will let you go! Have you ever imagined how our lives will change after you leave?
“Who will do the tasks that you singlehandedly performed all these years? Tasks like…
- Cleaning the house temple at 4’o clock in the morning
- Taking care of the entire house in the absence of the family
- Helping my father manage the business
- Dealing with demanding customers and ill-behaved labourers
- Frightening away stray cows and dogs that ventured into the farm
- Securing the house at night when we were peacefully asleep
Have you ever thought that we will need 4-5 people to handle all these tasks that you did all alone for the past 55 years?”
“What do I say, babu!” Matadin said this time with some sadness on his face. “I wanted to stay on, but…”
I now tried an emotional trick, and said, “I still remember the days when we were small and you used to show us the town on your shoulders. Or the days when you cooked your amazing daal-bhaat (rice and lentils) for us and then sat patiently watching us eat with aplomb.
“Who will carry my kids to show around the town now? And who will cook daal-bhaat for them when they are here?” I asked.
“I know babu, but…”
“Nothing doing, Matadin! You are not quitting! I won’t let you quit!”
This time I heard nothing from him!
How could he speak?
Matadin was lying at a distance from me…lifeless.
He had died a day ago. I was here to attend his funeral…to see him for one last time and to pay my homage to a man who had dedicated a big part of his life away from his home in Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh), and to serve my family. He never married, and thus had no family to leave behind.
Matadin’s work was his investment, and he made it for 55 straight years, not stopping for once thinking about his past or the future.
Why Matadin, and why here?
You might be wondering, “What is your Matadin and his story doing here?”
Well, I want to share with you a couple of key life lessons that I’ve learnt ever since I saw the lifeless face of Matadin.
One, I regret that I was not able to thank Matadin for his dedication towards my family for so many decades.
I want to thank him now, just in case he is able to hear my thoughts sitting up there.
“Matadin, you were the real ‘babu’ for me. I thank you so much for your service to me and my family all these decades!”
Matadin’s death has changed something within me. After having seen a body literally turn to ashes within an hour, I’ve grown more thankful to God for this life, for a complete and able body, and to everyone who has invested their time to my upbringing and development as a sane-thinking individual.
I want to thank each person who has invested a part of his or her life in me – my teachers, parents, and now my wife, who can do anything to ensure that I stay a sound-thinking man she wants to spend the rest of her life with.
Each one of us has someone around us who is investing (or has invested) his/her life in us – either as parent, spouse, friend, employee, or as someone like Matadin who can’t be put into any of these categories.
It’s time to say ‘thank you’ to those people who’ve invested their lives in us.
While we as investors are always looking for that return on our investment, these people have invested in us without expecting any returns.
There’s definitely someone Matadin around each of us. We just need to identify such people, and thank them.
There’s no point waiting for that ‘perfect time’ to thank them, like I waited and in the end failed to thank Matadin for what he did all these years. You must not regret later, like I am regretting now!
That’s lesson number one.
The second lesson is – apart from the monetary investments I am making for my future, I must find time out to invest in someone else’s future – like in the future of my kids, wife, parents, readers, underprivileged – without expecting any return on the same.
I read this somewhere, “When someone dies, a part of the people they left behind die too.” I can feel the same after Matadin’s demise.
I’m sorry for this emotional post, but I had to share this with you, my dear friend.
Anyways, the usual stuff at Safal Niveshak resumes this week. I will publish Puneet’s post on Charlie Munger’s mental models on Wednesday, followed by my review of Warren Buffett’s letter on Friday.
Thanks for reading! Thanks also for being my partner in this journey of long-term, independent, sensible investing!