It happened long time ago. There lived a potter named Tirath Ram in a village of Assam. He earned enough to easily make both ends meet. He had no desire for more money. He was fully content with what he was making. There was no sense in going crazy for money, he used to think.
He made a lot of pots in a day. It cost him seven or eight rupees. Next day he would sell them in the market and earn a profit of around two rupees. That amount was enough to feed him. So, he had no worries. He lived happily and was carefree. He would squat down with his flute in the evenings and played it for hours lost in its melodies. His days were passing by in this way. Then a day came when he got married. The name of his wife was Kalyan.
Kalyani was a good natured nice woman. She helped her husband in his work with great enthusiasm. She was good at housework too. Tirath Ram was now earning more and the income was enough to take care of both of them.
Their neighbours were very jealous of their happiness and contented life. The couple worked all day long. In the evenings, Tirath Ram played his flute as before to announce his joy while his wife worked inside humming her own favourite tunes.
One day, Kalyani suggested to Tirath Ram that they must save some money for the future. They were spending all the money Tirath Ram made.
Tirath Ram said, 'We are happy the way we are going on. Why buy the headache of earning more and saving? We have our small house and enough to eat. Why shall we need savings?"
Kalyani argued, “I know we are happy and we don't have any problems. But we must save for bad days or hard times."
Tirath saw sense in Kalyani's argument. They worked harder to make more money. Kalyani would get up in the dark hours of the morning to begin her work. Tirath worked till late at night. But they were not able to save much. The couple decided that getting overworked for nothing was of no use. They again started living a carefree life like before.
One day, Tirath was returning home after selling pots in the market. The evening had fell. He was walking on a bridal path that ran through the fields. He noticed a velvet pouch lying in his way. He picked it up. The red velvet pouch was full of silver coins. Tirath could hardly breathe.
Then, he realised that someone had lost while going through that path. He looked around to spot its owner. There was no one in sight. So, he considered it a gift from God to him and took it home.
He told everything to his wife. Kalyani thanked God for the bonanza.
Tirath remarked, ‘You were right when you said that we should save something for the future. This God sent gift of silver coins is our saving. We shall save it for future."
‘Very true," Kalyani agreed and suggested. 'We must count the coins to see how many we got exactly."
They sat down to count. The coins were exactly ninety nine. They talked about it and Kalyani said, ‘We must stash it away like a treasure for tomorrow when we will have children and a big family.'
Tirath spoke, ‘But ninety nine is an odd figure. We should make it hundred to have a round figure. Then we will store it away."
Kalyani agreed to it. They knew that earning a silver coin worth of money was not easy. But both made up their minds to do it. Now Tirath and Kalyani worked day and night. Tirath would set out early in the morning to sell pots and returned at night. Meanwhile Kalyani toiled at home front.
Both of them looked dead tired any time. Now, Tirath had no time to play merry tunes on his flute. Kalyani was too washed out to hum any song. She had no heart for singing anymore. The neighbours never saw Kalyani cheerfully going around any more like before.
They were saving money little by little. To save money Tirath and Kalyani had started missing a meal a day. But saving money to buy a silver com was taking a lot of time.
Three months went by. The neighbours suspected that the couple was in some kind of trouble that was why they worked day and night. And they always looked tired and worried.
Somehow in six month’s time they were able to add the silver coin to their treasure. Now they had hundred coins. By this time they had become addicted to saving money. They were not satisfied with a hundred coins only. They wanted more. At least a hundred more. They thought that with that capital they could start some business and live like rich people.
They continued the hard work and their miserly ways. Meanwhile the neighbours were getting restless to find out the reason of their worry. One day, Kalyam’s neighbour Rammo came to her. Kalyani was washing dishes.
After some formal talk Rammo asked, 'Kalyani! I used to see you singing merrily earlier. Now-a-days, I don't hear you sing."
Kalyani tried to put her off and kept busy in her washing chore. But Rammo was determined to find out the reason. She spoke, 'And you look tired Should I help you"?
The words of sympathy softened up Kalyani. She admitted, “Yes….you are right I had to work hard to make up hundred coins.’
"What hundred coins?" Rammo enquired. Kalyani told her everything Rammo remarked. ’Sister' You two have gotten yourselves in a very vicious cycle."
Kalyani asked in surprise, “Vicious cycle!?*
’Yes dear…It is called ninety-nine trick which leads one into a never ending cycle of turning odd figures into round figures." Rammo explained.
The couple realised their mistake and in few days turned back to their old gold days of joy and merriness.