The Treasure Within – Summary

The treasure Within is an interview. It is based on a conversation between Ms. Bela Raja, Editor of a Newsletter and Hafeez Contractor, one of India’s leading architects.


Every child is capable of doing big things. He can become a hero in the area of his interest. What is needed most is to discover his talent or aptitude. Hafeez is a living example of such a hero.

Hafeez Contractor is today India’s leading architect. But he was unhappy and careless at school. He loved doing things and hated mechanical learning. He used to have terrible dreams about appearing for a maths examination in which he knew nothing at all. When he reached the third standard, he lost interest in studies. He took interest in games and playing practical jokes on others. He passed all the school exams by using unfair means.

But, later, one sentence spoken to him by his Principal changed his life. He was in the 11th standard then. The Principal said that Hafeez was a good student, but had little interest in studies. He (the principal had taken care of him till that day but now he could no longer take care of him He should study hard. Only sports won’t take him far. He took his final examination. He could never get more than second class.

No doubt he was pulled up by his teachers at school. He received a caning every week for not doing homework or for his bad behaviour. Caning did hurt him badly, but he forgot about it soon when he was in playground. Every Saturday he went to see a movie. He was the leader of a gang of boys and took part in going fights. He used to open his textbooks only on the day just before exams.

How then he could become an architect? Hafeez told the interviewer that he wanted to join the army or the police force. But his mother told him to do his graduation first. So he joined Jaihind College in Bombay. There he studied French for seven years without learning anything. He later learnt this language from his cousin, an architect’s wife.

It so happened that Hafeez saw somebody drawing a window detail. He told the man that the window won’t open. He had a bet and he won it. His cousin’s husband asked him to design a house and he did it. He then asked Hafeez to join architecture. And Hafeez got first position in the entrance test in that college of architecture. He thinks that all his qualities grew from what he used to play and do during school.

He admitted frankly that he was bad at languages. He was also poor in maths. Gifted boys are said to be poor in learning. Class toppers often do very ordinarily later on. He himself could sketch on the spot. He judged the taste of a client from his way of talking and eating. Hafeez always hated maths. But now as an architect he loves that subject.

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