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I would burst into tears after listening to this discourse. I was guilty. Elder brother was skilled in the art of offering advice. He spoke eloquently and shot arrows of words that shattered my confidence. I was incapable of working hard, and for a moment I would consider returning home. I was willing to remain an ignoramus, but the very thought of studying day and night frightened me. But after a few hours, the dark clouds of despair would disperse and I would resolve to study very hard. I would immediately draw up a time-table; how could I launch a project without first chalking out a plan? The time-table would be as follows: Get up early in the morning, brush teeth at 6am and have breakfast, and then immediately sit down to study, study English till 8am, mathematics for an hour after that, history from 9am to 9.30am, then meals and school. Take 30 minutes rest after returning from school at 3.30pm, study geography from 4pm to 5pm, grammar from 5pm to 6pm, a stroll around the hostel for half-an-hour, English composition from 6.30pm to 7pm, finish dinner, and then work on translation till 9pm, Hindi lessons for an hour, other subjects from 10pm to 11pm, and, finally, sleep.

But it is one thing to draw up a time-table and an altogether different matter to stick to it! The time-table would go awry on the first day itself. The welcoming greenery outside, the soft breeze, and the excited shouts of the football, kabaddi, and volleyball players would draw me to them and, once there on the playground, everything else was forgotten. After the play was over, I would return to the room on tip-toes so as not attract elder brother's attention. I had a naked sword hanging over my head at all times. But just as a human being remains attached to desires and cravings even though fears of death and disasters continue to trouble him, I too could not forsake my love for sports although I had to constantly listen to elder brother's reprimands for it.

The annual examinations were over. Elder brother failed, I passed and stood first. Now, only two grades separated elder brother from me. For a moment I felt like taunting him: "What have your efforts come to? Look at me, I spent my time playing, and yet I have passed with good marks." But he was so unhappy that I felt pity for him and the very thought of taunting him was shameful. Yes, a change came over me: I felt proud of myself and gained in confidence. Elder brother's words ceased to be law for me. I began going to the playground without fear. If he tried to restrain me again, I resolved to tell him on his face: "What great thing have you achieved through your hard work? I played all the while but passed with flying colours." Although I never actually dared to speak these words, yet my actions spoke louder and made it clear that I was no longer scared of him.

Brother realized this; he had a strong common sense. One day when I returned to the hostel room for meals after playing tip-cat the whole morning, he was ready for me to deliver his tirade. "Just because you have passed with good marks this year the success has gone to your head. But dear brother the pride of the greatest men have been shattered. What are you in comparison to them? You must have read about Ravana, but did you learn any lesson from that story?"

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  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
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  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
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  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu