Charity begins at home. How many times did you hear this phrase in your life? A number of times, right? It tells us that we should take care of our own needs at first before helping others. But there was a Henry Preston who once took the meaning of this phrase to a whole new level. Jeffrey Archer talks about Mr. Preston, an employee of Pearson, Clutterbuck & Reynolds in his short story CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME ! Once I read the story, I felt like I had to share it.
Henry Preston, an extremely shy guy and with an almost nil social life, joined Pearson, Clutterbuck & Reynolds as a clerk. Neither Henry had any hobby nor he had any addiction to sex or drugs. His only indulgence was occasional gin and tonic and that too on Saturdays. In Jeffrey’s words – frankly, if there was a club for introverts, Henry would be elected chairman – reluctantly.
But Henry’s dull life changed forever just few years before his retirement from Pearson. He got the task of managing the accounts of Angela Forster’s company, Events Unlimited. Angela, after her husband left her for a younger woman, opened a small business that specialised in organising events – from annual dinners to Balls. Her natural organising skills made her business eventually more successful than she had expected it to be.
‘Why don’t you come along to one of my functions, Mr Preston?’ Angela one day asked after her meeting with Henry.
Henry accepted her invitation for a ball for African famine relief on Saturday evening. In his mind, Henry, a born introvert, was regretting as attending the event would mean missing his regular Chinese takeaway with gin and tonic that tops his priority list while watching the film of the week in television. Moreover, he had to be in time on Sunday morning for checking the church collection.
Still on Saturday, Henry found himself in the town hall for the ball, dressed in an old-fashioned jacket his mother gifted on his 21st birthday. Once Henry got the chance to slip away, he met Ms Forster. After few moments of conversation, he realised Ms Foster took back home a meagre amount of what her company earned from all the events annually. Ms Forster said she was unable to increase her income. Whenever she demanded a hike in her fees, her clients reminded they ran a charity. Henry thought something, asked Angela out for dinner and hatched a plan.
Henry commented, ‘Don’t forget that any winnings made from gambling are tax-free.’
Angela’s Westminster and City Conservative Association’s annual ball saw Henry entering the ballroom with an empty Gladstone bag in one hand and an umbrella in the other. The ball fetched £22,370 that evening. Henry gave Angela a receipt in exchange of £19,400 cash (which he later dropped in the nearest HSBC bank’s safe deposit) and entered the Black Ace Casino with the remaining £2,970 cash.
At the roulette table, he exchanged £2,970 for blue and white chips in the next three hours. After leaving the table, he reached the bar, carefully put all the chips from his pocket into the open handbag of a woman sitting next to him and made an exit from the casino. Angela, who sat showing no interest on Henry all the while took her bag and exchanged the coins for a cheque in the name of Mrs Ruth Richards at the cash counter.
In next three years, Angela managed to make £267,900, £311,150 and £364,610 annually as a charity to herself. Upon Henry’s advice, she transferred her first million to an offshore bank in the Cook Islands.
It was Miss Florence Blenkinsopp who discovered a shortage of £820 from an event’s earnings after an uninvited guest with a Gladstone bag entered the ballroom. Miss Blenkinsopp didn’t doubt Angela, her ex-pupil from St Catherine’s Convent, and reported the matter to chief constable. Detective Sergeant Janet Seaton was assigned the task of investigating the issue.
Janet followed the old man with the Gladstone bag from one of the events at Bebbington Hall to the casino. She understood Henry’s addiction to gambling and cracked his plan of exchanging cash at the roulette table for chips in return. What she could not understand was if the lady sitting on a stool near Henry was also involved in the plan or not. Was she Angela? Janet wasn’t sure.
However, police arrested Henry and his lawyer suggested him to plead guilty. The Special Crime Unit spent days trying to confirm Angela’s involvement in the crime. But they failed to trace any cheques made in the name of Angela Forster even after enquiring in all the casinos across London. Her bank account also didn’t reflect any suspicious transactions.
Henry, on the other side, admitted his gambling addiction and got three years sentence in prison. They released him 18 months later. Henry took his personal belongings in a Gladstone bag and headed towards the local railway station. Nobody saw him after that day.
Mr and Mrs Graham Richards have a happening social life in the island of Majorca. Mr Richards, the owner of a small and front-line villa overlooking the Bay of Palma, manages the accounts of the Royal Overseas Club in Palma. The chairman boasts the accounts of the club is well-managed ever since Mr Richards took the position as treasurer. He also informs the club’s AGM that Graham’s wife, Mrs Ruth Richards has agreed to organise their annual ball.
How do you find this act of charity that begun at home? Let me know in the comments.
The Girl in Room 105 is the latest novel written by renowned writer Chetan Bhagat. I got hold of the novel in the Crossword store during my last trip to Mumbai.
Do pay a visit to Kasa Kai Mumbai !
Coming back to the Crossword store, The Girl in Room 105 ,a paperback and a product of Westland publication, was occupying the first position in the Fiction department. I wasn’t surprised as this is where Chetan Bhagat’s novels usually end up. What surprised me was that this was the first time he has involved himself with a crime story. Or should I say in his words an ‘unlove story’?
But back then, I had just started reading Erich Segal’s The Class. So Chetan Bhagat had to wait for sometime till he could introduce me to The Girl in Room 105.View this post on Instagram
#theclass – A delayed but worthy read from one of those #yettoread novels from my book shelf. It is the second novel I read written by #erichsegal after #lovestory . ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The story is served as a delicious stuffing sandwiched between the #harvard class of 1958 and their 25th reunion in 1983. How did the things change in the students’ lives when they stepped into the reality after spending dreamy 4 years in Harvard? How did they finally realise their true emotions after 25 years of fight in the battle named LIFE? Although the story revolves around Harvard students, but I think this can be my story,your story and possibly everyone’s story. For we have all experienced life’s predictably unpredictable nature ! #lovetoread #bookloversalways #bookworm
I was in college when I first read Chetan’s Five Point Someone. From then onwards, his every novel has found a place in my bookshelf. Some may criticise his storyline, but to be honest that never stopped me from paying for a Chetan Bhagat novel. Not just because I am a big admirer of his work. But also for the fact that his effortless humorous style of writing always calms down my nerves. I look for that kind of humour in every novel I read.
Now, let us not keep the girl waiting in room 105 anymore and say Hi to her.
The story starts on the New Year’s Eve of 2018. Keshav Rajpurohit and his friend-roommate-colleague Saurabh are in the middle of a party thrown by Chandan Arora, the owner of Chandan Classes. However, Keshav is in a sulky mood. New Year eve always reminds him about his ex-girlfriend and now somebody else’s fiancée, Zara Lone. Keshav has tried and failed to rekindle his relationship with Zara several times after their break-up. Zara has turned cold shoulder towards him every time. Keshav’s only access to Zara these days are her WhatsApp DP and Instagram photos.View this post on Instagram
#thegirlinroom105 is the first take of #chetanbhagat with #anunlovestory. I genuinely felt like going through a #crimepatrol episode as put by Saurabh, the protagonist Keshav’s colleague-friend-roommate and a partner in all right and wrong things in Keshav’s life. However, even it’s a thriller, still you will not miss Chetan Bhagat’s signature sense of humour. In fact, it’s his humorous writing style that always draws me towards a Chetan Bhagat novel from the day I read #fivepointsomeone 😊 So, if you have not yet visited #room105 , then I would suggest you to enter there at least once and meet THE GIRL IN ROOM 105 ! P. S : Please have a little patience with Keshav as he is not a professional detective and adopts a numerous trial and error methods in solving the mystery in Room 105 😊😋 #chetanbhagatfan #chetanbhagatbooks #alwaysandforever #bookworm #readingisfun
A month later, one night Keshav and Saurabh are busy boozing up in their small flat in Delhi. Then Keshav receives a message in his WhatsApp. To his surprise, the message is from Zara.
It is her birthday and she is upset why Keshav hasn’t wished her this year. The allegation made by Zara is true. Keshav has always wished Zara on her birthday even after they broke up. But this time, he has promised Saurabh that Zara will be a closed chapter.
Of course, his vow doesn’t last for long before Zara’s subsequent invitation to meet her in the hostel room. She tells Keshav that she would keep her room 105’s window open. Keshav can enter climbing the mango tree(the way he used to do when they were dating). He sees a silver lining in the sky to bring back his relationship with Zara in track. He along with Saurabh, drives in a drunken state towards Himadri, the girls’ hostel in IIT.
At 3:00 am, Keshav enters room 105 through the window using his old tactics. And within minutes, he gets the shock of his life.
How does Keshav wish Zara on her birthday? Why is Zara showing interest in Keshav when she has ignored him throughout? How does Keshav’s life change after he meets his ex in room 105? I have no desire to be a spoiler. You need to read the novel to know the answers…
The story moves back and forth in different times giving a clear picture about the lives and backgrounds of Keshav (a boy from Rajasthan) and Zara(a girl from Kashmir). How they met in the Rendezvous Fest, IIT Delhi in 2010 and started dating each other shortly. When they decided to take their relationship to the next level, how complications creeped in and gradually set them apart. What Zara really expected from a relationship. What she received instead. How Keshav, a mediocre IIT student and a faculty in Chandan Coaching Classes lands himself amongst an upheaval after meeting Zara in room 105. The novel also subtly touches certain painful areas India is facing at present such as terrorism.
The novel is a crime story. Still Chetan Bhagat’s hilarious writing style will keep you entertained without cutting down the thrill factor. His easy way of story telling has always been his USP. And he hasn’t disappointed in this department this time either. As far as the story goes, it has got a wide range in terms of characters and locations. The plot is interesting and a complete page turner. Those who binge on Crime Patrol episodes (like me) will enjoy the bumpy ride with Keshav Rajpurohit.
So, if you haven’t met the girl in room 105 yet, I would suggest please meet her at least once 🙂