I have always been interested in the concept of Social Entrepreneurship. It is exactly the kind of Innovative Business model that a country like India needs to encourage and cultivate en mass for a stable and secure future. But the kind of corporate sponsored tokenism in the name of Social Entrepreneurship that we largely witness in India today is not exactly what has to be envisioned. There needs to be a fundamentally strong, grass roots level, mass cultivation of Innovation keeping in mind the rich dividends that we, as a society should harvest. And it is to highlight exactly this kind of Socially profitable business model that i have come up with this short story. Split into 3 parts, it is the tale of The Unknown Social Entrepreneur
It really bothered the two of them.
Suhasini brought a kettle of piping hot green tea into the living room as Iniyan seemed lost in thought.
‘Are you sleeping?’ asked Suhasini as she poured the strong brew into the cups.
‘It really doesn’t make sense’ said Iniyan, sitting up at the sight of tea
‘Are you talking about the money?’ asked Suhasini
‘Well to tell you the truth, the ads in the papers have surprised me even more’ he replied.
‘Hey that’s rude’ Suhasini complained. Being the youngest member of the family, she loved her granddad the most.
‘I don’t mean to say he didn’t deserve any of the nice things said in the ad’s, it’s just.. .’ he hesitated
‘Just what?’ asked Suhasini
‘Why didn’t he tell any of us about the hidden wealth? I mean why did we have to know from the lawyer who read out his will? Why the secrecy? What was he hiding? It is such a niggling feeling’ Iniyan blurted
‘Thatha was a simple man of integrity. Do you doubt his honesty?’ asked Suhasini
‘No, I just wish I could find out more about what that simple guy did in his life’
Rajasekaran, known to his dear ones as Raja expired on the 5th of October, 2011. He was seventy three years old and succumbed to a vicious bout of Pneumonia. He left behind his wife, two children and three grandchildren who all loved him dearly. Raja worked for an automotive spare parts manufacturing company almost all his professional life in Chennai before retiring from the same as Zonal Manager of Sales and Marketing. Born in a lower middle class family, he struggled to complete his diploma education before settling down in the company to which he remained loyal till the end. He was known for his simplicity and humble lifestyle, caring little for himself yet satisfying his family within his limits. Not known to be a risk taker, this humble man epitomized the hardworking Indian born along with the freedom struggle, fighting his way through Socialist India before retiring peacefully in Capitalist India. And it was this image of Raja that made it even more difficult for the family to digest the turn of events after his death.
It all started the day the old man breathed his last. The family expected a moderate gathering at the house before the cremation- the usual family members, friends of the old man who were still alive, friends of the family and neighbors. But what took them all by surprise was the sheer number of strangers at the house on that day. Some wept uncontrollably upon seeing the old man’s body while other controlled their emotions yet sticking around for a long time. Many had brought their families along who shared their grief along with us silently. Not one of them said who they were and neither did the family ask about their association with the old man. The details were lost in the moment of grief. The family resented that in the days to come as the morning newspapers over the next two weeks were flooded with tributes for Raja from people of all walks of life, taking the family totally by surprise.
The next big surprise came almost ten days after the death. The family lawyer presented the old man’s will to the family. It really was a small will, starting with a cozy house in the heart of today’s city, purchased when the place was still known to be a dacoit friendly area in the Outskirts of the city, which almost everyone felt was a misadventure by a man who came closest to an adventure when he was forced to get off a moving bus. Other than that, instructions on his Fixed Deposits and his collection of books were all that was expected from the will. But to everyone’s surprise, that wasn’t all. Turned out, the old man had kept a secret bank account unknown even to his wife. As the lawyer proceeded to furnish the full details of the account, Iniyan and the others sat in utter shock. Clearly the old man had a lot more money than he ever showed or cared for. The only question was, how and from where?
By the time the lawyer had finished, the total value in the account was clear. With a balance of Rs. 2,00,00,000 and a further value of immovable properties across Tamil Nadu amounting to over Rs. 3,00,00,000 the overall estimate stood at a little more than Rs. 5,00,00,000. It clearly swept them all off their feet. The Old man had instructed in his will that the money and the properties attached in the mystery account were to be handled by the family members, particularly the grand kids upon receiving further instructions. No details were given as to from where and when the instructions would come. And it was this uncertainty that played on the minds of Iniyan and Suhasini as the days turned into weeks.
Iniyan was just about to sip the simmering Tea when the doorbell rang.
A young boy stood neatly dressed as Iniyan opened the door ‘Iniyan Sir?’ he asked
‘Yes’ Iniyan replied, ‘You are?’
‘I work near the Bus Stand’ he said, pointing out into the distance.
Iniyan did not recognize the boy.
‘What can I do for you?’ Iniyan asked sensing the boy’s hesitation.
‘I… I just wanted to give you this letter’ he said, holding out an envelope.
‘Who is it from?’ asked Iniyan.
‘Your Grandfather’ replied the boy
‘Come inside’ Iniyan said as he took the envelope.
He stared long enough at it before opening it slowly.