The Saga of Life
Eking Out A living
I was waiting outside a school gate like hundreds of other parents for my daughter who was sitting for her school leaving examination when a scantily clad man with a basket full of vegetables on his head perspiring profusely in the hot and humid weather moved forward inching towards me and said in a timid voice “I am an illiterate person but my son is taking the examination today. Could you please hand over this packet his mother has sent for him”. Since I did not know his son I took down his name to comply with his request as the middle aged man made a quick exit to sell his merchandise and earn the day’s income.
Study In A Candle Light
As the parents met their children during the intermission I accompanied my daughter to trace the boy with the help of the security personnel who took no time to identify the boy ambling alone near the porch of the school building, knowing full well unlike other examinees that nobody would be around to give him the much needed company and encouragement at that momentous time of his life. He looked to be a typical impoverished village lad with eyes his most striking feature. We took him aside and handed over the packet. He opened it shyly and we could observe puffed rice and a kind of cake of molasses had been sent for lunch. As utter embarrassment was writ large on his face he could not be easily persuaded to share the elaborate meal I had for my daughter.
The tiffin over, I told him “How have you prepared yourself for the examination?” when he looked very flustered but replied gradually “ I do not have any time during the day for studies as I have to somehow attend school and assist my father in his business. I study at night only when my parents are asleep and I can use entirely the only lamp we possess”. My daughter was visibly shaken by such account of sorrowful existence she never imagined provoking me to ask again “What does your mother do?” when he said ”She is a domestic help in some houses but prepares our meals”. I was totally dumbstruck listening to him narrating the sad tale of his miserable life and his firm resolution to continue studies nevertheless.
He was soon found to open his notes to quickly glance through during the short recess period. I stopped chipping in again lest it should disturb him as he was deeply immersed in his papers. I left the place with my daughter allowing him to study and complete the second half of the examination with last minute touches as he must have needed further studies.
A poor Student Struggles to be Established in Life
As the examination was over the boy took leave of us and began to walk back to his home destination . After much persuasion we could take him in our car and drop him at the nearest railway station to enable him to catch his homebound train.
That was all we knew about the boy and his hapless parents eking out a living but having the dream that someday their much cherished only descendant would be established in life giving them some respite and comforts at their old age. While chiding I began to lecture my daughter how the poor unfortunate boy was struggling in such a pathetic situation with lingering ambitions despite such adversity. I prayed to God for an end to their suffering and his success in the examination.
I forgot the boy and his parents gradually as we became busy with our daily jobs. As I prepared myself for admission of my daughter in a good college I took keen interest in reading the daily newspaper items thoroughly to know about the results which were declared in time and she got through securing good marks. But a featured report along with the photograph of a boy drew my attention suddenly. As I called my daughter she immediately confirmed the image as that of the poor boy who was receiving gifts from the Chief Minister with adequate assurance of support for his chosen higher studies after doing incredibly well and ensuring admission in the best colleges of the city.
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