Tales that traits tell

The traits of an individual — from childhood through adolescence to adulthood — generally speak volumes of the person concerned. If a child habitually breaks or damages something -- pardon the slip, clinically dismantles a given thing, say a toy car -- elders at home and in society are inclined to predict a bright future for the child as a successful mechanical or instrumentation engineer.

Similarly, people foresee someone fussy about personal hygiene becoming a medical practitioner or a powerful orator turning out to be a politician. You do not need a soothsayer for this. Commercial advertisements too these days are harping on this point for marketing their products and services.

And these characteristics need not necessarily relate to predicting a person’s future or career but nevertheless serve as a pointer to his general nature, political acumen, commercial wisdom and the like. Even if such a trait in an individual is not discernible at an early age, it is likely to be pronounced, as the person grows up, in their behaviour or educational pursuits aimed at becoming successful bankers, legal practitioners or finance professionals, especially cost accountants.

The inadvertent mention of cost accountants reminds me of an anecdote which the chairman of Southern Regional Council would quite often narrate at events addressing members of the fraternity. A couple who were stinking rich had three sons-in-law who bonded well with the family.

The mother-in-law decided to test the loyalty of all the three and called them over to her home. The lady requested her first son-in-law to accompany her to the swimming pool and on the way casually confided in him that she did not know how to swim. At the pool, she slipped and shouted for help to be saved. Her son-in-law – a pious, god-fearing man --promptly dived into the water and pulled her to safety. The lady was immensely pleased and gifted him a Maruti car.

The next day, she was accompanied to the swimming pool by her second son-in-law. Again when she ‘accidentally’ slipped into the pool and shouted for help, her son-in-law – a shrewd businessman -- seized the opportunity to save her. Visibly impressed with this gesture, she rewarded him with a scooter.

On the third day, she was accompanied by her last son-in-law, who also happened to be a professionally qualified cost accountant. At the pool, as expected, she slipped once again and shouted for help. The son-in-law thought for a moment, the first son-in-law got a car for saving her life while the second received only a scooter and if he saved her life, in all likelihood, he would get a bicycle.

He quickly did some ‘cost-benefit’ analysis, figured out that it was not worth undertaking the trouble of saving her and decided to let his mother-in-law find a watery grave. Of course, it is a different story that much to his surprise, his father-in-law presented him a Mercedes Benz!

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