A LESSON LEARNT
Once there was a boy named Ajay. He was eight years old. Ajay was a spoilt child who had no regard for anything or anyone. His parents were very rich and so he had all the things a child could possibly ask for. He had an assortment of fancy toys, a vast collection of story books, good expensive clothes, chocolates and much more. Maybe this was the reason he did not value anything.
He was rude and impolite, throwing tantrums at the slightest excuse. He misbehaved at mealtimes, throwing his plate away and always demanding something different from what he was served. The servants meekly complied and fussed around him to make him happy. His misconduct increased day by day. There were regular complaints from his school, too. He disobeyed his teachers and bullied other children. His parents were at their wit’s end and did not know what to do with him.
Then one day Ajay’s aunt came to visit them for a couple of days. She was a social worker who lived in Mumbai. She was shocked to see Ajay’s behaviour. She suggested to his parents to let him spend some of his holidays with her in Mumbai. They agreed hoping that the change would do him some good. Everything was arranged and Ajay reluctantly left with his aunt.
They reached Mumbai. After a day’s rest his aunt took him for a drive through the city. On the way, their taxi passed through a slum area where Ajay saw children eating leftovers from a garbage heap. They seemed to be in a very bad state. They were dirty and their clothes were torn. They were hungrily grabbing any food that they could lay their hands on.
At a signal crossing, Ajay saw small children trying to sell flowers or magazines to people in cars. They would knock on the rolled up windows of the cars and plead with people to buy their things.
Aunty showed Ajay the different landmarks of the city. By the time they turned back it had become dark and Ajay saw children sleeping on the cold hard floor of the pavement. That night he was a little quiet and did not throw any tantrums.
The next day his aunt told Ajay that he will be accompanying her to a construction site, where she would be taking care of the labourer’s children. At the site, she rounded up all the children and made them sit under a tree. The children were of various ages ranging from two to twelve. They were dirty and improperly clad. Ajay was shocked to see their poor state. He watched, as his aunt made the children have a wash. They were then given some clean clothes to wear. His aunt then asked him to distribute biscuits and bananas to them. The children gratefully accepted these and started eating hungrily. Ajay felt ashamed of himself when he remembered the number of times he had misbehaved at mealtimes and not appreciated the good food his parents had served him. After eating, the children were taught some poems and songs which they learnt readily. At the end of the day his aunt found Ajay very thoughtful and subdued at the dinner table as he ate his food without a fuss.
The next day Ajay accompanied his aunt to an orphanage. There he saw many small children. His aunt explained to him that these children had no home and no parents. This orphanage was their home. These children had no one to call their own. They spent the next couple of hours playing with the children and telling them stories. The children seemed very happy to be getting all their love and attention. Soon it was time to go home. Ajay seemed reluctant to leave.
The next morning Ajay was ready and waiting for their next outing. His aunt was happy to note that for once he seemed to be enjoying doing things for others. Today they were scheduled to visit a blind school. When they reached there, they were taken to a hall where all the children had gathered. As they entered, the children put their hands together and said “Namaste” in a cheerful voice. They sang songs and then showed them the nice things they had made out of bamboo. The children seemed so full of life and happy even though they were blind and had to face a lot of hardships.
That night Ajay cried a lot. He was ashamed of himself. God had given him so much in life and yet he had not realised the worth of it all. He promised his aunt that from now on he would be a changed child and would not give his parents and teachers any cause for complaint.
The next morning he left for home. On reaching there he ran to his parents and hugged them tightly. No words were needed. His parents understood that something had changed him. They were overjoyed. A lesson had been learnt.