Longish post. You have been warned.

He’d moved recently into the neighbourhood. He was rumoured to be very rich. No one knew exactly how they knew, nor who had first pointed it out, but that’s how rumours start. The outward trappings of wealth were apparent though he never flashed it himself. But it is difficult to hide your two latest porsches from a curious populace, especially if you live in a part of town which holds only 1 millionaire (you) and a majority of the working class. Even then, he was friendly with everyone, always up for a chat, or drinks with his neighbours. The wealthy have many wannabe friends, and not all those wannabes actually get lucky enough to sip drinks with their idol at the local bar.

Strangely enough, he was not very forthcoming about his business, or how he came to be rich, but people  forgave him that. His name was Martin Warth, though he asked his many friends to call him Marv, short for  Marvin. When asked why, he used to smile and say ” What’s in a name? wrote the bard. I agree with it myself. You are so much more than what you are named. If tommorrow someone tells you I am not Martin, it won’t hurt me, or you, or anyone, for everyone will have known me as Marv.” And so eccentricity was added to his list of virtues, for the rich are always humoured. 

Another of his virtues was his being so down-to-earth. So much, that he took his trash out himself. And he always had a big bag of paper to throw every week. He didn’t seem to be very tech-savvy, for his papers were always unshredded. His closest (self-acclaimed) friend berated him often “Are you insane? You are throwing your valuable papers away, unshredded? Unshredded?  What if someone goes through them, forges something, steals your money? You will be left high and dry, believe me.” One such time, Marv just smiled his unruffled smile and said ” I have so much I can surely spare a few for the brave sod who takes such risks. Call it my way of giving back to the society, my unique method of philanthropy. Besides, I have so many friends here, so many buddies, not excluding you. You wouldn’t all disown me if I lost my money, would you?” The friend declaimed at that “Ofcourse not. How could you assume so?” And dropping the conversation, he silently chalked up Marv as being mentally deficient in addition to being rich and eccentric.

 Unknown to Marv, and Marv’s friend, someone was indeed rifling thorugh his trash every night. And was  finding wealth at his fingertips. A wealth of information, even if not actual cash. Blank cheques, transaction histories, balance sheets, a few credit cards and so on. The forager thought himself luckier each day. His courage grew with every cheque he encashed, every transaction he made with Martin’s cards. It grew even more when he had been going about his activities for more than a month without any repercussions; and nothing was seen amiss by either the bankers, or by the people around Martin. Around that time though, Marv did sell his cars and told his friends ” I had a few losses in business, and sold the cars to cover those”.

 Then one day the thief drew the ultimate lottery in the game he was playing. He proclaimed to his house and walls ” I am rich for ever more. That fuddy-duddy doesn’t care about his money, or even his identity. He doesn’t exist any more. Here stands the new Martin Warth, and he is going to be much more careful of his property and greenbacks than anyone else. He is going to live in hollywood, hob-nob with the very rich and is going to forget this cheerless old town. Yes, applaud for the new, self-made, Martin Warth.”

 Just as an added petition to lady luck, that night he made another forage on Marv’s trash. Going through the haul in the safety of his home, he found a carefully typed note.

” Congratulations my friend. You have done it, though you took much longer I expected. You have moved so slowly, so carefully, I itched to come and help you steal my identity. My identity. That’s actually a funny thought. You cannot steal my identity; you don’t even know who I am.

You need to be braver than this in the future, run more risks, if you intend to keep your new found wealth. I can tell you it’s not easy.

And you think you are rich, but you aren’t. What you have is a pittance of what Martin Warth had. Well, now  he doesn’t have a lot, and neither do you, my friend. However, my best wishes are always with you. Here’s to  Martin Warth, the old, the new, and the latest.



P.S. Constructive criticism, anyone?

Edited to add: Incidentally, I read this today after I posted this.