Motilal- A Real Pearl

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Its a short story based on real life incident. The story highlights that "The stem of greatness sprouts from the seed of sacrifice.

Submitted: June 03, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 03, 2016



The moist breeze after the fresh monsoon showers was giving a gentle cradle to the drooping leaves, trying to rejuvenate them with its generous bounty in scenic lawns of the majestic Palace resort at Jodhpur city in Rajasthan, India. The awe-inspiring sun danced in from the horizon, dews on the blades of grass sparkled in the sunlight. Birds with sodden feathers were hopping through the gardens, shrugging off the water beads with a flutter. Amidst this all, Mavin, a middle aged flamboyantly handsome, senior Indian government officer walked in his conspicuous style; immersed in his thoughts through the cobbled pathway of the hotel to reach his room after a long day at the assigned official task. It was his third day here and he was leaving following day for his next assignment to New Delhi. He had decided to take refreshening shower before he could join his colleagues and friends for a drink and dinner in the courtyard of the regal style resort. This was one of the most fascinating forts and palaces India is proud to have as heritage, a true royal retreat. Light streaming in through the carved windows were a wonderful setting of the rich Indian Rajputana¹ royal heritage to soak in and get over the tiredness of a hectic work schedule.

As the dusk was casting its spell, there was a strong presence of nature in its full display that even though tired and weary, Mavin admired the sun setting in the horizon afar. The great scarlet arcs of silk, saffron, green and crimson, brought an unusual smile to his face, as if he was reminded of the absolute and infinite power of God hidden beneath the phenomenon.

The redness had seeped from the day, and night was arranging herself around. It was 8.00 PM, and Mavin wanted to make best of this evening time. The pearly rays of moon were bathing the courtyard of royal gardens along with the colourful lighting, gentle Indian traditional music ofSantoors™ and Sitar™ enchanted the guests. The fountains delighted everyone as they danced to the classical tunes, and that was the perfect ambience where Mavin and his colleagues were having a chit chat over the dinner. It was time to end the day and everyone left saying goodnight to each other. However, Mavin decided to take a solitary stroll before he could retire. To establish a communion with the supreme eternal power was a discourse he often followed as a routine. The whispering of the leaves was almost hushed. All about them, it was still and shadowy and sweet. He could hear the sound of his own steps as he walked alone. It was a wonderful moment. Stars twinkled from afar, shedding the tiniest rays of lighted hope. The hustle and bustle of guests was slowly fading down and
quietness had crept in. Mixed in with the rustle of the leaves and the sound of splashing water of slowed down fountains could be heard orchestrating the evening now.

As Mavin strolled through the backyard, he noticed a thin frail man, in his early fifties, wearing thick glasses, quietly sitting in one corner of the well chiseled lawn. His face somehow, appeared timeworn and wrinkled; hair was pepper-and-salt, and a faint crust showing at the corners of his mouth, like sugar. In front of him laid a mat woven from the dried palm leaves, where he had heaps of about 30-40 pairs of traditionalJuttis³ , and a few handmade leather bags. He was perhaps a resident of a village nearby who had put up a stall for selling his handmade items, but obvious to make a living from the earnings he received after selling his goods. His fingers were rhythmically dancing to the tunes with perfect move as he sewed his next creation. Mavin had seen him sitting there every evening for past three days, quietly making juttis. This man conspicuous with his detachment to the surroundings never ceased to take Mavin’s attention for a while as he returned from work every evening. The leather juttis were extremely traditional in their looks and seemed to be made of original camel leather. After a glance Mavin assumed that he must be selling his goods in a five star resort at prices much higher than available in the routine mall. Still, he could not contain his anxiety and went closer to him to check his stall. On a closer look Mavin admired the handcrafted leather and the intricate embroidery which was so skilfully done in each and every single piece and spoke volumes of the hard work and labour that would have gone in for each and every creation, telling a tale of sweat and toil.

Seeing him by his stall, deeply engrossed in his skillful sewing, the leather man lifted his head and gave a faint smile to Mavin adjusting his glasses with thick black frame. He waited for Mavin to begin the conversation, which would be so usual of a customer and a vendor.

Inquisitively, Mavin asked, pointing to a golden and red embroidered shoe “How much does it cost?” “Sir, pick up any of these, and the cost would be rupees 350/- only (approximately US $ 6).” replied the man. Mavin was taken by surprise.He reassured himself by asking, “rupees 350/-?” “Yes sir”, Came the reply again in a gentle but firm voice. Still not convinced, Mavin thought of checking the price of rest of the items too. He pointed out to a couple of leather bags which were lying in the middle of the mat, and given a prime position in the layout. Beautifully crafted, sewn with finesse and lovely pink golden and green silk thread embroidered, the bags were a mute reflection of the craftsmanship and ultimate skill that man possessed.
“What would be the price of these bags?” asked Mavin, who was by now gaining anxiety to hear the unusual price. The man calmly replied, “Sir, the bigger in size bag is for rupees 350/- and the smaller one would be sold for rupees 300/-.”
By now, Mavin had set aside the idea of being just a prospective buyer. Now an anxiety had crept in his mind that how a humble looking man of limited means is so content and genuine in the sale of his hard work.
He tickled, “is the price you quote similar for your countrymen and foreigners alike? I am sure you must be able to fetch a good amount from the pockets of craft frenzy foreigners!” But the polite reply from the other end was, “No Sir, the price of my goods is the fixed one, same for the countrymen and foreigners.”
Quite surprised by his answer, Mavin said, “My dear friend, are you able to make your ends meet with such low cost selling, and sustain a family, which I am sure you must be having.” He replied with content, “Yes Sir, the God has been kind”.

Now that was getting interesting. And if I may ask your name too?” questioned Mavin. He was by now extremely curious to know about the simpleton sitting in front of him. The reply came in a polite tone, “Sir my name is Motilal, and I come here in the evenings to sell these goods from 6 PM until 11 PM. During the daytime, I teach.” The next obvious question was, “Teach? What do you teach and whom do you teach?” The next reply was enough to sweep Mavin off his feet.
“Sir, I’ve done my Masters in Chemistry in the year 1981. And I teach college students in the capacity of a government college lecturer. My monthly earnings are rupees 70,000/-. With this I am able to have a decent survival for myself as well as my family.” This answer had left Mavin numb and speechless. His curiosity of knowing the reason for a highly qualified college lecturer selling goods like a vendor was like a bird in a cage, trying to release him of the uneasiness that surrounded him.
Mavin said, “If you permit me Mr Motilal, can I ask you the reason which has prompted you to be sitting here every evening and selling these hand made goods?
This is unusual of someone in your capacity as an educated person. If you deem fit, can you tell me a little bit about your personal life.”

At this juncture, Mavin was in a battle. The battle field was his mind, his thoughts were his armour. He was perhaps witnessing a God created communion with a hardworking soul full of determination and perseverance. Magnet attracts a magnet, was perhaps coming true. By now, Mavin had perched besides Motilal, his thoughts curious to know about him. Motilal continued, “Sir we belong to the lowly cast, Shudras 4 , who are not well respected in our society. In our system of social stratification, the society considers us to be ‘impure’ and ‘untouchable’ due to the assigned tasks of toilet, garbage cleaning and removing carcasses of animals.

Despite all odds, I was educated by my parents to the highest standards and carve a niche for myself as well as my family.” Mavin repeated his question, “But what prompts you to undertake this kind of work, which is considered menial in our society, in your evening hours, when you could take up something else too?”

Motilal replied, “Sir, this is for the love and affection of my parents, to whom I owe my existence.” Looking at the question still hounding Mavin’s face, Motilal continued, “The craft of leather goods making is the ancestral profession of my forefathers, which has been
carried on until now by my parents. My father, Mr Laxman Rao and my mother, Mrs Suji Devi, both in mid-80’s, are now disabled by arthritis. Their knobbly and gout-swollen fingers find it difficult to grasp the sewing needle and leather, but their spirits refuse them to call it a day. Despite these many years and physical constraints age has been no bar for them, nothing has dampened their spirits of hard work. They still continue with the rigorous routine of getting up early in the morning, and get to their task of leather cleaning and making these goods.

To their utmost greatness, they never imposed their professional rituals on any of their seven children, and always encouraged us to achieve higher education and follow other discourses in life.”

Mavin had been absorbed keenly in the narrative of Motilal. Motilal was also in a flow by now. There was a changed tone of his voice which had become intimate, frank, slipping into a comfort zone with Mavin after sensing his very humane sensitivities towards him. Perhaps, it was his first recount in life when someone gave him the chance to speak up his heart and mind. He continued, “Sir, my parents have their soulful existence dedicated to the purpose of their life; that is, the means which have provided livelihood to them to sustain them and me and my siblings. It would be an abrupt end to their lives, if the endeavour of keeping this practice of making leather goods and selling off is stopped. Their age doesn’t permit them to do so anymore. Hence, this is for the love of life and years to my parents, I chose to fulfill their wish, I ceremonially carry on this tradition of my family.” A befitting tribute to them was to be able to get the permission of laying out a small stall in this heritage palace, where they worked as employees long back, until it changed to the present hotel form.

Blood is thicker than water. There are so many acts of kindness that we so often take for granted and will fully let pass by, but there are very few that can surpass the love of a family member. Mavin, a man of strong yet sensitive convictions was in tears to witness the selfless love of this duty bound son. His thoughts were owned by the amazement that this son was living up to every moment with unconditional love for his parents, and how great in character those uneducated parents must have been, who have raised a son with such fine abilities of head and heart. What wonderful values they have infused in him and ironically, they are known to be the downtrodden section in society?

A galaxy of dragonflies fizzed through the beams of light, wings a-glirr in the magical space between the two of them. It took Mavin a while to gather himself and reconnect back to the world from his deepest thoughts where he had transcended.

Further to his curiosity, he added, “Motilal, tell me if your children would follow the legacy too, which you have followed religiously?” “No Sir, they won’t” was the calm reply.
From under the mat Motilal took out an old mobile phone, and showed a picture of a lady. “Sir this is my eldest daughter, she is a gazetted Government officer.”
Next he scrolled to the next picture of a young boy, his son, who was pursuing electrical engineering from the premier Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, and the third picture he showed of a teenage girl, his second daughter studying in the grade twelve. “Sir, I wish to groom this girl to be a doctor.”


Mavin was now empowered with a sense of great respect for Motilal, who seemed to him as an accomplished human being, who rode on high determination to assist all those around him to pursue their quest in life. A life ‘worth living’ was unfolding in front of Mavin’s life.
Men with soft, warm eyes have a special appeal. Warm eyes exude kindness and an understated strength. With his wet eyes, so overwhelmed and moved by the unsung man with humble means, but a great magnitude of illustrated glory of character and values, Mavin requested him  for a photograph, to keep with him forever as a reminder of goodness he witnessed in past half an hour. Motilal was obliged to grant his humble wish and as he was about to get up, Mavin’s words next made him realise the realm of God-gleamed light when he has lived his life throughout looked down upon for the caste he belonged to in the society. With an unfathomable respect towards him, Mavin requested him to remain seated and chose to sit beside him to take the picture. This small gesture from Mavin made Motilal feel the highest tribute to ‘karma’ of his life until now, his pride illuminated to the glitter of billions of stars above him.

For Mavin, it was yet another moment of awakening, a state of surprise, indignation that follows a convincing dream.
Somewhere, was he witnessing the grandeur of divine? Yes, probably he was! Mavin in his own fine sensitivities, felt within him highest form of admiration towards Motilal and his parents, and as an ode to them, decided to buy from him two beautifully crafted hand bags for two beloved little girls. These bags were not merely a gift anymore, but through them he had decided to pass on a wonderful treasury of lesson of life, a lesson of hard work, perseverance, determination, pride in the love of labour, and above all, love and gratitude for the parents.
Mavin wasn’t satisfied still. He returned to his room to get a pen and paper for taking Motilal’s invaluable signatures and contact information. Today, he realised that he was able to prove his words to his children by carrying home the ‘autograph’ of an ordinary man who carried an image larger than life. Motilal, a real ‘moti’ (pearl) of his own small world, created an impeccable impression on Mavin. It is truly said


The stem of greatness sprouts from the seed of sacrifice”.




Motilal " Hindi word meaning ‘Pearl’

1 Rajputana " Traditions related to Indian Martial caste of Rajputs belonging to Indian
State of Rajasthan

2 Santoor & Sitar " Indian classical string musical instruments

3 Juttis " Indian traditional leather shoes worn by villagers


4 Sudras " Lowest of the traditional social classes of India

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