Humble & Grumble

Do you need a pile of fancy toys and boxes of expensive chocolates to keep you happy?
Yes, says Grumble, until one Sunday...

Humble and Grumble were like chalk and cheese. No other children in the entire school were as completely dissimilar. Humble lived in a hut, while Grumble’s home was the largest mansion in town.

Humble’s hut was almost bare. The only furniture it contained was a rickety three-legged table, a broken chair and a little cupboard. In contrast, Grumble’s house was a veritable museum. Its many rooms were clogged with expensive curios and fancy furniture. Massive chandeliers hung from the ceilings, and heavy carpets covered every bit of every floor.

Humble was a soft-spoken, helpful child, while Grumble, puffed up with pride because of  his family’s wealth, was the most notorious bully in his class. He revelled in being the richest boy in the entire school, for it made him —or so he thought — special in the eyes of others. He had nothing but scorn for Humble, whom he despised for being poor.

Despite having everything a child could ask for, Grumble was never satisfied. He constantly complained about not having something or the other, and whatever he did have simply failed to please him. That was how he had earned his not-so-flattering nickname.

Often, people judge others by their material possessions. The more things someone has, the more ‘successful’, ‘happy’ or even ‘superior’ he is thought to be.

Since Grumble’s family was the richest in town his classmates were envious of him. At the same time, they sought to win his friendship. How they all wished they could have been in his place! It was really his house and wealth that they coveted and not Grumble himself, though little did Grumble realise this.

It was a Sunday that Grumble will never ever forget. How he had looked forward to spending the day having fun after a hard week at school!

That morning, Grumble hurriedly tore open the box containing the new — and very costly — train set that his father had bought for him on a recent trip abroad. Just then, his sister Tumble came rushing into his room. She wanted to play with the train, she cried. She was fed up of playing with the many toys her parents had recently bought her — a  dozen teddy bears in different colours and sizes, six sets of miniature kitchen-ware, a boxful of puppets and goodness knows how many Barbie dolls and board games!

Grumble, who was very possessive of his things, could not contain himself. He lunged at Tumble. Soon, the two children were at each other’s hair, scratching each other’s faces like wild cats.
Then, in a fit of anger, Tumble grabbed the engine of Grumble’s toy train and flung it at him. Luckily, it missed its mark but crashed straight into a giant crystal bowl that Grumble had planned to house some very rare ornamental fish that he wanted his parents to buy for him. How envious his friends at school would be when they saw those exotic creatures! But now the bowl was gone, and that only made Grumble even more furious. He snatched a bogey of the toy train and hurled it at Tumble. But in his anger his aim went all awry and it landed — you would not believe it — right on his father’s head!

“Ouuuuch!” screamed the children’s father, who had rushed into the room at that very moment on hearing the commotion. “You miserable children! No more gifts for you, did you hear? Never, ever again!” he said.

That night, Grumble tip-toed out of his room and headed for Tumble’s room, intending to give her a good hiding. And do you know what happened next? While rushing through the enormous drawing room in the dark, Grumble knocked against a giant Chinese urn. As that came crashing down, it brought down with it an entire set of expensive porcelain statuettes that were placed at its feet!
   Alarmed by the din, Ronald, the children’s dog, raced into the room, thinking it might be a burglar. As he scampered about excitedly he brushed against a tall oil lamp that was burning, spilling the oil on the floor. In less than a moment, the oil caught fire, and in no time at all the curtains and carpets were aflame!

The fire rushed through the mansion and soon tongues of fire began to leap from every room. Luckily, no one was hurt in the accident, though nothing of the house, or of the many things that it once contained, remained.

It took a few weeks for Grumble and his family to get over the shock and accept their plight. Theirs was truly a riches-to-rags story.

Now that their mansion was no more and they had lost all their wealth, do you know where they lived? They hurriedly put up a little hut, made of mud and twigs, in the empty plot just next to Humble’s home for they could not afford any other place!

And that is how Grumble and Humble soon became the best of friends. It took some time for Grumble to understand, but spending time with Humble made him gradually realise that the material things you possess (or lack) are really no measure of your worth.

Like the mansion that Grumble’s family once owned, he now knew, they can easily be lost, but if you are happy and contented with little, nothing can snatch that away from you!

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