Story by Darminto M Sudarmo
Mr. Gembrul was the richest man in my village. He had a nice house, surrounded by a wall that was topped by spiky shards of glass. He also owned large rice fields. He owned not just one or two cars, but several. Unfortunately he was also very tight-fisted. His house was always locked and looked haunted. No neighbors ever visited the house unless they had a very good reason.
One day my father and some villagers went to Mr. Gembrul’s house to discuss something. My mother explained to me that my father and some villagers wanted to ask Mr. Gembrul to share the cost of building a floodgate at the end of the village. With a proper floodgate the water could be managed better and channeled to all the rice fields around the village, including of course to the fields of Mr. Gembrul.
Mr. Gembrul’s response was very disappointing. “Mr. Diding,” he said, “I can grow enough rice even without water. I have never been short of water. So why should I contribute? I can’t help you. I am very sorry. My business is not going too well at the moment and I just don’t have the money.” He was weeping crocodile tears.
However, the villagers were determined to build to floodgate, and they did. Everybody agreed to contribute, and they were all happy with the result. Everybody now got a fair share of water without all the arguments they had before.
One day the villagers heard that Mr. Gembrul’s oldest daughter was to be married. Everybody got an invitation, nobody was forgotten. According to Uncle Salim who worked as a gardener for Mr. Gembrul, everybody was expected to bring $50 as a contribution. If all villagers came, that would make a tidy sum!
Mr. Gembrul prepared enough food and drink for a lot of people. According to custom, all heads of family brought an envelope with money whenever a wedding was being celebrated. Mothers and other female guests brought a gift to hand to the host.
The day of celebration arrived. Everybody looked very gay and almost everybody was there. Only one or two people had not brought a present. Mr. Gembrul looked very happy. His smile grew wider and wider. Meanwhile his mind was busy counting the number of guests and calculating the sum of money he would receive.
Finally the celebration came to an end and all queued to congratulate Mr. Gembrul and to hand over the envelopes. The envelopes were all closed with glue.
When the guests had left, Mr Gembrul rushed to his room to count the money. His wife followed him and looked over his shoulder. But how surprised they were to find all the envelopes empty! Mr Gembrul fell unconscious and his wife screamed out loud. The other family members got a shock, because they did not know what had happened.
My father explained that the whole village had taught Mr Gembrul a lesson to make him change his behaviour for the better. And it is true, Mr. Gembrul has changed. Now he likes to give to the poor. Now they even call him a generous man. Mr. Gembrul was surprised himself, because even though he now contributes to people in need, he remained a wealthy man. In fact his income sometimes more than doubled!