Pic.: Fr. Reginald Pinto
Till my fifth standard, I went to a local school. Those days, we directly landed in first standard at the age of 6. It looks unbelievable, when our own son went to his playschool when he was barely one-and-a half!
They call it ‘Play-school’… fun-school… Little kids go there, play… learn something with loads of fun… and, they come home!
But, I remember when I was in fifth standard in that local school: our Maths teacher was Narayana master. He was too strict… was known for whacking children badly… We feared him, almost to death!
That was the last year in that school. I was waiting and praying for the year to be over soon, so that I could go to a new school, where life would be easier. In fact, I still remember this – and you won’t believe it if I tell you now: The road to our school was a lonely road… hardly any vehicles or people passed by… And, I would look around to make sure that no one watched me… quickly kneel down, close my eyes, raise my both hands up unto the heaven and pray, “God, make Narayana master absent. Sorry God… Thank-you God!”
But, then, even though God would not hear my prayers, too often, I would feel nice inside that I had prayed… right in the middle of the road, and, in broad day-light!
Soon, when I landed in the new, big school, the same thing continued… There were new ‘Draculas’ and new fears… Somehow, I believed, that when I landed up in High School, that is eight standard, life would be smoother…
I was a full-blown teenager when I landed up in High School… and, I was facing new ghosts, new fears. And, yes, I was hoping to pass through this passage quickly and land up in Junior college, which I, eventually, did… only to feel more and more miserable. The Degree college was the only hope, now… and, when I landed up there, life was no different… It had brought its own set of issues, anxieties… and, yes, fears…
I was waiting for the college to get over… start working… and, start living ‘happily’!
Today, after some thirty-six years, I am working… and, still hoping and praying that my Maths teacher remained absent! I hope, ‘the next thing’ in my life would be easier, smoother… happier…
Ironically, in the same local school, there was an angel-like teacher - Satyavati. She taught us when I was in second or third standard. We loved her for her enchanting stories…for the way she cared for us. This morning, as life seemed ‘too much of a load to carry’ – and, as the dreaded face of Narayana master came before me, I was lucky enough to recall one of the warmest fables told to us by our dearest Sayavati teacher…
Once, all the rabbits in a jungle got fed-up with life. Fed-up of being hounded by every one around – right from a dog to a wolf. “What kind of life is this… if living means only to become a lunch or a supper for someone stronger than we are?” they began to grumble.
So, the frustrated rabbits called for an emergency meeting to discuss the steps to be taken. “There is no hope for us… No matter how hard we try, we will not be able to live happily in this jungle,” they all came to a conclusion. Finally, one of them suggested that they all should march towards the nearby lake and jump together into it… and, there would go, once and for all, all their woes!
Suddenly, there was a new hope in the air! The rabbits did not wait any longer to end their problems… So, they all hurried in the direction of the lake. There, around the edge of the lake, the frogs and the toads had been merrily spending their time croaking with a happy melody. When they heard the commotion of hares come charging towards them, the little-ones got panicked and they began to throw themselves into the deep lake, causing a massive splash!
“What a sight!” the rabbits exclaimed, unable to
believe what they were witnessing,
“These creatures are even more frightened
and hopeless than us!”
“Whose idea was it to come here?” the eldest of the hares shouted, “Frogs and toads are tired of us as much as we are tired of dogs and wolves… Jumping into the lake can never make us happy… Let’s go back and live!”
That’s how the hares in the jungle learnt to deal with their frustration… And, that’s how we, humans, too, are supposed to do!