Veeraswamy Krishnaraj
Govindan graduated from high school but did not immediately secure employment. His father, a wage earner engaged in odd jobs, informed him that they could no longer financially support him. Govindan received an eviction notice, coupled with two months' worth of food and shelter. The situation appeared grim, and Govindan felt a sense of fear. He realized the need to set an example for his younger brother and sister.
The looming possibility of having to pay the dowry for his sister and cover the expenses of her wedding weighed on him. At the age of sixteen, having led a sheltered life at home, Govindan now found himself on his own. He moved into a rundown house with a friend, suffering from leaky roofs and broken windows that allowed cold winds to permeate the space, chilling them at night. Life was challenging, but Govindan remained determined to make it.
One day, passing by his favorite candy shop, where he used to buy three palm dates for the price of one ana in the 1940s, the owner suggested he sell candies, palm dates, and dry plums on the street. The shop owner extended him a day of credit for the purchase of goods. Govindan could sell them and keep the profits.
He carried his merchandise on the flatbed of a cart, winding through local streets, announcing his sales loudly with a bell to attract children. Some mothers lacking money bartered broken pots and pans for sweets, which he accepted and later sold to a recycling merchant at a good price. Soon, Govindan had enough money to improve his living situation.
One day, a young mother traded a scarred, broken, and blackened tumbler for palm dates to please her child. Govindan, tossing the tumbler as he walked, noticed it weighed more than expected, suspecting it might be valuable. Consulting Honest Abe, the metal recycling merchant, he discovered the tumbler was gold. Abe gave him a price quote, and Govindan promptly returned it to the woman, informing her of its true worth.
Together with the couple, they confirmed the gold's authenticity, discovering that the tumbler had been in the family for centuries, passed down from mother to daughter. They went to a gold merchant, then the museum, where the tumbler was valued at ten times what the gold merchant had quoted.
The trio decided on a strategy: convincing a wealthy man in town to buy the gold tumbler and donate it to the museum. After authentication by both the gold merchants and museum officials, they agreed to split the money evenly, rewarding Govindan for his honesty. The tumbler found its place in the museum, and Govindan purchased an apartment in a posh area, while the couple moved to an upscale neighborhood.
During an inquiry by a museum official who was a psychologist, Govindan explained that his parents had taught him honesty, and now he had enough money to get his sister married and support his younger brother.
The couple expressed their decision to share the wealth with the street vendor, citing his honesty as the reason. The metal recycler, when questioned, stated, "I know the kid. Truth is my middle name. That's why I told the truth."