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4

It was time again for the annual examinations. Again I passed, and again elder brother failed. I had not worked very hard but yet stood first; I was surprised myself. Brother had worked really hard: he had read his books word for word; studied till 10pm; resumed his studies immediately after waking up at 4am; took a break for brushing, bathing, and breakfast and, then, picked up his books once again and remained glued to them till 9.30am when it was time to go to school. He was worn out after all the hard work. But, despite all the hard work, my unlucky brother failed. When the results were declared, he burst into tears. I felt such a rush of pity for him that I also could not control my tears. Probably, brother would not have felt so bad if I too had failed. But, who has control over destiny?

Only one grade separated elder brother from me now. A wicked thought came to my mind: if brother failed again, then we would be in the same class, and he would be in no position to humiliate me anymore. But I forced the thought out of my mind. After all, he scolded me for my own good; I might feel bad when he scolded me but it is probably owing to his advice that I had been passing with good marks.

Brother became somewhat mild. There were several occasions when he had an opportunity to scold me, but he did not do so. Perhaps he had come to realize that he no longer held any authority to reprimand me; or if he did have any authority, it was only to a lesser extent. I started taking advantage of this leniency. I had come to believe that my fate was strong, and I would pass whether I studied or not. I stopped studying even the little that I used to study earlier out of fear. I developed a new hobby of flying kites, and most of my time was spent in the pursuit of that hobby. But I respected brother still, and flew kites only after making sure he was nowhere near. All the little difficulties associated with kite flying like making the manjha(kite string), bridling the kite, and preparing for tournaments were resolved secretly; I did not wish to convey to elder brother that my respect for him had diminished even a wee bit.

One evening, far away from the hostel, I was chasing a free flying kite that had been cut in a kite fight. My eyes were lifted up to the sky and my mind was focused on the sky traveler. The kite drifted lazily towards its doom like some nonchalant soul descending from heaven to take up a new role on Earth! A whole army of children with long sticks in hands chased it, unconscious of everything else. It was as if the children were flying in the air alongside the kite where there were no cars, trams and vehicles!

All of a sudden I encountered elder brother who was returning from the market. He caught hold of my hand and said in a very harsh manner, "Don't you feel ashamed of yourself chasing a worthless kite along with these street urchins? You are no longer a child. You are in the eighth grade, just one grade lower than me. A person should be aware of his position; there was a time when people used to become deputy tehsildars after passing the eighth grade. I know so many people who, after passing the middle school, are today deputy magistrates and superintendents; many have become leaders and editors of newspapers. Great scholars work under them. And you, despite being in the eighth grade, are chasing a kite! I feel sad for you."

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  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • 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