Pic.: Anima D'Cunha

I am happy to note that there are many kids around me who have their heads firmly planted on their shoulders… They don’t get swayed easily by the fad, fashion or the glitter… Leave alone the sales gimmicks!

When I was a kid, I was a kid. I didn’t – and couldn’t – behave like an adult. I was fascinated by the ‘latest’ gadgets, desired to at least see and touch them even though I couldn’t afford to own them. When someone owned them, I would stand next to him and have an eyeful of it… even envy!

But, I knew, even when I was small, that, gadgets and toys did not bring true happiness in life… An attitude of gratitude did…

I am not saying this for effect, now.  I valued money and knew how important it was in life. But, I knew money was not everything in life… that, there were several things in life money could not buy. My happiness, certainly, was one of them.

Two days ago, in our PD session, I had given for GD the topic – “Should children be given mobiles before they complete tenth standard?” It was a batch for students who had given tenth and onwards. But, there were also present a couple of preteens. Vishaka and Megna, both 12-yer-old, said that their parents had handed them basic handsets – buttttonwala dabba phone as some others would describe them – just to make and take calls. “Our parents want to keep in touch with us and that could be done with our basic phones,” these kids said.

“Don’t you get shy to carry such ‘dabba’ phones? I prompted, “Don’t you complain and crib?”

“Initially, we did fight with our parents,” the little-ones explained, “but, our parents explained to us about the value of it.”

I loved the word, ‘Value’!

And, today, I had another young-man, Prasad, who had just appeared for his ICSE Boards. His mother had brought him to my office to explore the possibility of enrolling him for our ongoing PD course. The moment the young-man walked into my office, I knew, he had his own mind very, very firmly planted on his shoulders… He was not the kind who would enroll for a course just because his mother, father or friend would suggest… He would do it only if he was self-convinced.

When parents and young-ones ask me a dozen questions as to what it is, how it is and who it is etc… I try to keep it simple and straight… I never try to oversell no matter what… and, invariably, the honesty works. They enroll…

Today, with Prasad – who sounded to me very stiff and cold – I followed the same path. His mom was convinced. But, the young-man wasn’t. During the course of our discussion, I had told this: “Ma’am, we do not run this course with a motive of making money… We use whatever money we collect to publish these books, which we give away free of cost… Imagine, it is a two month course… five sessions a week… each session of two-and-a-half hours… six to seven instructors, all experienced and well-known in their respective professions…. Yes, imagine a course fee of Rs.6,000/- for such an extensive course… it is really pea-nuts!”

I did not tell during my discussion… that, there are some who can’t pay and we quietly accommodate them… some pay us only a part of the fees… and, some are even sponsored by some of our grateful ex-students… So, it was never about money.

Was Prasad convinced?

I had a pleasant surprise when I was seeing them off… Prasad came back, a few steps towards me, and said this. “Sir, hope you won’t take me wrong… Please don’t say Rs.6,000/- is a ‘small amount’!”

Oh my God! I took a little while to gather my wits!

Was my ego hurt?

Yes, it did.

Was I hearing it from a 15/16-year old… This lesson on value of money?

Yes, I was.

But, then, something saved me and I said, “Why do you say that beta?”

“Because, sir, I don’t consider any amount of money is ‘small’… Rs. 6,000/- is certainly, not,” the young-man looked into my eyes and said, “Please, don’t take me wrong.”

“Not at all beta… In fact, I really appreciate what you are saying… I respect that,” I patted Prasad’s back. “You will have a surprise tomorrow… You know, I will be blogging on this episode… Do you know I blog daily?”

“Yes sir, I have read some of  your posts… like ‘My Perfect Bachcha’…” Prasad said.

“I am glad beta,” I, once again, said pressing gently Prasad’s hand. Then, looking at his mother, I made the parting statement, “Ma’am, send him tomorrow morning… We need him here.”

The smiles of the mother and her young-son made my day…

‘Personality Development’... What is that?

I am still smiling...

 (P.S.: I couldn't wait till tomorrow to tell this story!)



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