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One so often hears people talking about his or her “hard earned money” that it has almost become a cliché. But can all money really be classified as “hard earned money?”
Hard earned money, I believe, is money that is obtained after a tremendous amount of effort and work. And work as you all know has always been considered to be the domain of the lower rungs of society. The poor work and they work very hard be it in rain, storm, landslides, cyclones, floods, earthquakes or even when they are sick or dying. And the rest? The rich, the well-off, the well-known? Well, they stay cocooned in their little ivory towers and enjoy the fruits of somebody else’s labor.
When Nirupa Roy, the epitome of the ideal mother in Bollywood, carries baskets of bricks up a steep incline to where a mansion is being built and there is a song in the background extolling the virtues of Indian motherhood, then the measly wage she gets is hard earned money. When Amitabh Bachchan carries heavy baggage on his head on the platforms of VT Station in Mumbai, he gets hard earned money.
So also in real life as in the movies
As in the movies so also in real life, hard earned money is what the daily laborer or the sweeper or the coolie or the truck driver or the security guard or the cigarette and paan shop owner at the corner, or even the prostitute, earns. They have to undergo a lot of hardship to earn money for their daily needs.
There are other people also who work hard, not physically but mentally – they use their brain power and mind and inborn talent to earn a living – the artists, the intelligentsia, the literary folks. This is a different class altogether. They are not under discussion here. I am referring to the moneyed elite who think they are working hard when they are more often than not on the golf course or at their club or at a corporate “retreat” downing liquor, eating rich food and eyeing the women around.
When the moneyed talk of hard earned money
When the upper class or the moneyed people talk about their hard earned money, it seems a bit of a farce to me. Many of them do not work in the sense of using physical labour. Imagine a big corporate honcho sitting in a plush air conditioned office, sipping tea from his bone china teacup, while glancing through the latest gossip tabloid and occasionally picking up his pen to dash his signature at the end of a letter that has been composed and printed out by one of his underlings – when he talks about his hard earned money of a few (!!) lakhs a month, it does seem unjustified in my eyes.
Or look at the established celebrities these days who earn pots of money by “working hard” at cutting ribbons at the opening of a boutique or judging a fashion show or posing for a brand of hair oil which they say stops falling hair or maybe a talcum powder to prevent skin problems in summer, or even a well established luxury soap (but God forbid that they should use the brands themselves in real life – tauba! tauba!). Isn’t their earnings money for jam? Something extra for their Swiss bank accounts? Can we justifiably call it hard earned money? Or maybe we should coin a new term for this income – call it the “hardly earned money” or maybe “easy-come money” (the term “easy money” does however exist) or “indulgence money” or just plain “recreation benefits”.