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Father parked the car, put his hand in his wallet and handed the young girl some coins.

“Go, give it to the shopkeeper and tell him it’s from me”

The young girl looked at him quizzically.

“I owed him the change from last week”, he explained.

As she took the coins she asked.

“But it’s only change Father, you don’t need to return it”

A solemn expression came over her father and for a second, he looked like someone from the black and white photographs she had seen in the family albums.

“Return whatever you owe others. Even if it’s a few coins or a few hundred thousand notes. If you can’t return all of it, start returning what you can, regularly, until the debt is cleared”

His voice sounded different, a hundred years old.

She shrugged her shoulders playfully, “What if I forget to return the money?”

“Then don’t ever be in a position where you need to borrow money.

The only person who can forget is the one who lends you the money, and that too, if he chooses”

The girl stepped out of the car and walked into the shop. There were sweets and stickers  hanging from shelves at the entrance, she knew this shop well, her parents bought a lot of their daily essentials from here.  The old shopkeeper smiled and she extended her hand carefully dropping the coins into his palm. He smiled and reached out for some strawberry candy, her favourite!

As she skipped back to the car, her father grabbed the candy and quickly popped some in his mouth. The shopkeeper heard their laughter and sighed happily.

Copyright Mita Bhan. All Rights Reserved