There was a husband who was very, very good and a wife who was very, very bad. Day in and day out the wife would nag the husband to give her this or give her that.
The husband would say, “You cannot see that I am poor? I am having so much trouble making ends meet!”
The wife would answer, “You are not poor! You are stingy, that is all.”
This went on until the husband was sick of it. It seemed his wife only knew how to beg for expensive things.
Finally the wife said, “If you give me only one thing, I will not bother you again. I want a real gold necklace.”
The husband went to a jeweller and said, “To be perfectly honest, I have very little money, but my wife is begging me to buy her a gold necklace. What am I going to do? Please give me some advice.”
The jeweller said, “That is easy. Take an imitation gold necklace.”
The husband said, “But my wife will find out.”
The jeweller said, “No, no, no! Only a jeweller can say whether or not it is imitation. Otherwise, for anybody else to recognise that it is artificial is next to impossible. Just tell your wife a white lie. You are quite safe.”
The husband paid for the necklace and brought it home. There was a struggle going on between his sincerity and his insincerity. He said to himself, “My wife loves me so much, and although she nags me and nags me, I have to admit that I love her deeply. Such being the case, how can I tell her a lie? He presented the necklace to his wife and, with tears in his eyes, he said, “Please forgive me. This is only an imitation gold necklace that I am giving you. From now on I shall save money, and very soon I shall be able to afford a real one for you.”
The wife was very deeply moved by her husband’s sincerity and love. A few moments later she asked her husband, “Can I tell people it is real?”
He replied, “Say whatever you want to say, but I am telling you frankly, it is not a real one; it is imitation. I am sincere.”
In a day or two the wife went to her parents’ house wearing the necklace. As soon as her sister-in-law set eyes on the gold necklace, she became very, very jealous. She said to her husband, “Look, they were only recently married. Their marriage is only a few months’ old, and already she has received a gold necklace. I have been married to you for five years and what have I received? Nothing! You are so bad.”
Her husband said, “What can I do? I am only a very poor man. I have no money to buy you a gold necklace.”
She went on, “I know it is because you are stingy. That is why you want to escape by inventing excuses.” Then she started barking at her husband and berating him.
Finally the poor husband said, “All right, all right. I will get you one. Do not feel miserable.”
He went to the jeweller and said to him, “My wife wants a real gold necklace, but I do not have enough money to buy one. Please tell me what to do.”
This jeweller happened to be the same one that the other husband had visited. Once again, he gave the same advice. “You fool!” he said. “You can easily deceive your wife. Take this imitation necklace. She will not be able to tell the difference.”
This husband was not as honest as the previous one. When he brought the necklace home to his wife, he told her, “This is a real gold necklace.”
She was filled with joy. Like her sister-in-law, she could now brag that she had a real gold necklace. She wore it every day and proudly showed all her friends and neighbours. One day the husband’s sincerity came forward and he told his wife, “I have to confess that it is imitation.”
His wife became furious. Why had her husband fooled her? The first wife sympathised when her husband told her that the necklace was imitation. She knew he was poor, and he said he would save up money and buy her a real one. This husband also told his wife that he would save up money and one day he would definitely buy her a real one.
Now both the wives knew that their necklaces were imitation, but still they went on bragging, telling each other that theirs was made of real gold. And neither one of the husbands had the heart to disclose the truth.
Every day both wives went to bathe in a particular village pond. One morning, one wife entered the water to bathe, and the other wife happened to pass by the pond. As she was walking by, she saw that the wife who was bathing had left her necklace on a stone slab. The sister-in-law quickly exchanged the necklaces. She said to herself, “Since my husband has secretly told me that mine is imitation, let me exchange it. They look exactly alike. My sister-in-law will never notice the difference.”
Later that same morning, the second one also wanted to bathe. Then the same idea entered into the first one. She said, “I know mine is not real. It is only imitation.” Then she substituted her necklace for the other one. Now both of them were so happy because they both believed that their necklace was real.
But this happiness was destined to be shattered. The first husband — who was very sincere or very stupid — wanted his wife to come up to his standard. Since he was sincere, he expected his wife to be sincere. So he had to say at a family gathering, “The necklace I bought my wife is imitation.”
Then the other husband came forward and said, “My wife’s necklace is also imitation.” So this is how the two husbands ruined all the joy of the two wives.