There was a rich merchant who had 4 wives. He loved the 4th wife the most
and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to delicacies. He took
great care of her and gave her nothing but the best. He also loved the 3rd
wife very much. He’s very proud of her and always wanted to show her off to
his friends. However, the merchant is always in great fear that she might
run away with some other men. He too, loved his 2nd wife. She is a very
considerate person, always patient and in fact is the merchant’s confidante.
Whenever the merchant faced some problems, he always turned to his 2nd wife
and she would always help him out and tide him through difficult times.
Now, the merchant’s 1st wife is a very loyal partner and has made great
contributions in maintaining his wealth and business as well as taking care
of the household. However, the merchant did not love the first wife and
although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her.
One day, the merchant fell ill. Before long, he knew that he was going to
die soon. He thought of his luxurious life and told himself, “Now I have 4
wives with me. But when I die, I’ll be alone. How lonely I’ll be! Thus, he
asked the 4th wife, “I loved you most, endowed you with the finest clothing
and showered great care over you. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me
and keep me company?” “No way!” replied the 4th wife and she walked away
without another word. The answer cut like a sharp knife right into the
The sad merchant then asked the 3rd wife, “I have loved you so much for all
my life. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?”
“No!” replied the 3rd wife. “Life is so good over here! I’m going to
remarry when you die!” The merchant’s heart sank and turned cold.
He then asked the 2nd wife, “I always turned to you for help and you’ve
always helped me out. Now I need your help again. When I die, will you
follow me and keep me company?” “I’m sorry, I can’t help you out this
time!” replied the 2nd wife. “At the very most, I can only send you to your
grave.” The answer came like a bolt of thunder and the merchant was
Then a voice called out : “I’ll leave with you. I’ll follow you no matter
where you go.” The merchant looked up and there was his first wife. She
was so skinny, almost like she suffered from malnutrition. Greatly grieved,
the merchant said, “I should have taken much better care of you while I
Actually, we all have 4 wives in our lives. The 4th wife is our body. No
matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it’ll
leave us when we die. Our 3rd wife? Our possessions, status and wealth.
When we die, they all go to others. The 2nd wife is our family and friends.
No matter how close they had been there for us when we’re alive, the
furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave. The 1st wife is in fact
our soul, often neglected in our pursuit of material wealth and sensual
pleasure. Guess what? It is actually the only thing that follows us
wherever we go. Perhaps it’s a good idea to cultivate and strengthen it now
rather than to wait until we’re on our deathbed to lament.
— Author Unknown