Instead of saying I can’t do it, keep trying with a will to improve. Instead of saying he’s better than me; ask yourself what you are missing. Instead of cribbing over things you do not have, thank god for what more you possess than others.
Mr. Seth was writing the formulae for finding out the perimeter and area of a square. As soon as his chalk clinked the last word, in came Keshav, huffing and puffing. The clock read 7:08 AM for the whole class to know the fact that he was 8 minutes late. Being not on time once or twice in a while was acceptable as of course students had the best excuses that saved them from the teacher’s ruler prints on their palms; “Mom woke me up late, I took time to have breakfast as the milk was too hot, I had to wait for the water to be boiling in the geyser because the morning was very chilly.” But Keshav never made any of these excuses. Maybe because he wasn’t fortunate enough to acquire a simple and typical morning routine just like all of us.
Keshav walked back home and waved to his friends in the school bus with the meek hands that were on the receiving side of a wooden ruler for 4 straight days now. Keshav never took a rickshaw or a bus to his home not only because he couldn’t afford it, but also because he just wanted to reach the filthy place he called his house as late as possible. He hated the cramped one bedroom white walled flat which was shades of red by now thanks to his dad’s gutka habits. He couldn’t sleep at night owing to the pleading cries that children made in the congested area when their frustrated and drunk parents came back home and hit them. A father is supposed to and morally bind to be your saviour, the one who looks out for you at every step and supports you, takes care of all your basic needs emotionally as well as financially and spoils you once in a while. But at times, Keshav wished to have been an orphan instead.
It was 6:00 in the morning and Mr. Seth was starting to sweat in his grey jogging tracksuit. He decided to opt for a different path that day, a longer one to test his stamina which was well built by now, thanks to his wife who was determined to make sure he set foot out of the house at 5:30 sharp to lose those extra kilograms. Choosing the other route was a great decision taken by him because not only did it prove that Mr. Seth’s endurance had indeed been built well by now, but it also made him realize that the reason his student was always late was very well justified. That day, in the morning, on an empty street, on a cycle which was a size too big for a mere boy of 12, Keshav was pedalling from house to house distributing milk packets with the same hand that burned when the cold plastic touched the scale scars. Keshav was financing his own education while his dad was busy gambling and smoking weed.
When Keshav entered the classroom after Mr. Seth had written the names of all the planets in the solar system, he knew he would be punished yet again but this time showed his left hand to the muscular teacher to hit upon as he knew the right one could take no more. But instead of receiving a beating, Mr. Seth handed over a Mango Bite toffee to him and closed his hand, signalling him to take his seat. Neither did Mr. Seth tell anyone what he saw, nor did Keshav or any other child question him upon such an unusual treatment.
There are hundreds of other children like Keshav who have the will to study but don’t have supportive and understanding parents. They want their children to die in the same dump that they were born in. You don’t need to look for them, they would be a witness to your eyes in every corner picking up trash, selling morning newspapers on roadsides and serving tea in dhabas. Little do we realise that a negligible gesture to us by parents like being treated with a candy, if offered to them can prove to be enough to make their whole day.