There once lived an old man who had four sons and one daughter. All were married.
The sons, their wives, and the old man lived in the same house while the daughter lived in a different village with her husband.
The sons and their wives didn’t care much for the old man. He struggled to even eat and drink in good taste. They hardly spoke with him and were rude – unless they wanted a favor.
One day while his daughter had come to visit him, she asked –
‘Are your daughters-in-law taking good care of you, father?’
‘I am old. I cannot do anything on my own. They only bother to be nice to me when they want something in return,’ the father said with tears in his eyes.
The daughter was sad hearing this.
‘Oh, father! I would stay with you if I could. But a daughter has to be at her own house with her husband’s family. I can’t even take me with you,’ she said.
Her words touched him deep. The contrasting nature of his children flashed in front of his eyes. But he couldn’t speak a word.
‘I have an idea,’ the daughter said in excitement. The father paid attention.
She took off a gold chain from her neck and gave it to him.
‘I have a solution to this problem, but you have to do as I say,’ she said.
The father nodded.
‘This is my chain. Take it. You can return it to me later. The plan is for you to wear this and indirectly tell your daughters-in-law that whoever takes the best care of you will get it,’
He wasn’t willing to take the chain but the daughter insisted. He finally agreed to go ahead with the plan and wore it on his neck.
It didn’t take long for his daughters-in-law to notice the new shiny gold. Each of them came to him when no one else was around and asked –
‘Father, where did you get it?’
‘It is of my deceased wife. I have decided to wear it,’ he said to each.
‘What will you plan to do with the chain? It looks like it could be of great use to younger women,’ each said.
‘Ah, I plan to give it to the person who takes the best care of me,’ he replied.
Now the daughters-in-law competed with each other. Each wanted to give him the best care possible. They took good care of the old man’s drinks, food, clothes, and they behaved well. Even their husbands changed. All this resulted in the old man having a good life.
After a couple of years, the old man got ill. He knew he wouldn’t live long. He tried to contact his daughter but failed to do so. And as he had assumed, he died within a few days.
The daughter came and the family finished the last rites together.
In the morning of the day she was to leave, she went to her sisters-in-law and asked –
‘Did father leave me a parting message?’
‘Yes,’ they said. ‘He asked us to tell you that the firewood from last time was very good.’
She then covertly went to the courtyard and removed the pile of firewood. There it shined: Her golden chain! She took it and left for her home.
This tale is about a man who has worked very hard to ensure he and his children have a good life. But when he is old and unable to take care of himself anymore, his children brush him aside. (These kinds of incidents frequently occur). But the old man is lucky to have a caring and thoughtful daughter who understands his situation and comes up with a genius solution. The result: the old man is treated well. He lives in good care and attention until he dies.
What we can learn from this is –
Most humans are terrible. Yet, we all are forced to live together in this world. The cunning, the evil, the petty will try to make our lives miserable. To survive with them, we better beat them at their own game!