There was once a thief who used to commit theft every night. His wife was an honest woman. She would beg her husband not to commit theft. But her husband wouldn’t listen, so she was miserable. Like this it went on for years.
At times the thief used to be caught. Surprisingly enough, his wife would outwardly show no sadness. She used to say that he deserved to be caught; he deserved to be punished. But inwardly she always felt sad and miserable. After all, he was her husband. But he would never, never listen to her when she asked him not to steal. He would tell her, “If you really do not want me to steal, then why do you keep taking my money?”
She would say, “What am I going to do? I take very little money from you, next to nothing, and it is only for my necessities. But I don’t want you to do this kind of work. You can easily find some other profession. I am a village woman; otherwise, I myself would have found work. But now I have made a decision. If you continue stealing, I will go out and work. If I go out and work, then you will be embarrassed! You will be ashamed that your wife has gone out to work.”
In India women don’t usually work. It is beneath the dignity of the husbands to send their wives out to work. So when his wife threatened him in this way, the husband told her that he would stop stealing. The wife believed him because he started staying home at night. Previously he used to steal only at night, and now he was staying home at night. He told his wife that during the day he took jobs here and there and was making money. But he was actually stealing during the day and hiding all his stolen goods in a room that he had rented. The thief amassed lots of things in his rented room. But the wife thought that he had turned over a new leaf and become a good and honest man.
O God, one day he came to his rented room with something he had stolen and got the shock of his life. All the things that he had stolen over the months had been taken by some other thieves. He came home and cried and cried and cried. His wife asked him, “Why are you crying? Why are you crying? Has your boss fired you or has anything gone wrong today?”
The husband wouldn’t tell her. She said, “Am I not your wife? Can you not tell me what is wrong with you?”
Finally he told her the story. He admitted that he hadn’t stopped stealing. He had only lied to her. He had stolen thousands of rupees’ worth of things, and now they were all stolen by some other thieves. He was so sad and miserable.
His wife said, “Now look, you are crying for things that were not even your own hard-earned possessions. You went somewhere and in a few minutes’ time you stole things, and now you are miserable that they have been stolen from you. But look how hard the actual owners had to work to buy these things! It took them weeks and months of hard work to earn enough money to buy these expensive things. They saved money from their salaries for months. So if you feel sad now, think how much sadder the actual owners must have felt when their things were stolen.”
The husband said, “This time I am telling you the absolute truth: I am not going to steal anymore. I will get a regular job so that I can make you happy and also make myself happy. Stealing is not only an embarrassing task; at times it is also very dangerous. I want to be worthy of you. You are a very honest wife. I want to be as good as you are. I am giving up stealing, this time for good.”