Yet again the annual examinations were held. Yet again I passed, and yet again elder brother failed. I had not worked very hard but still I managed to secure good marks. I was surprised myself. Brother had worked really hard - he used to get up at 4am and study till 9.30am when it was time to go to school. Coming back from school, he used to study till 10pm. He had lost his sleep, but still he 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 had I too failed. But who can command destiny?
Only one grade separated elder brother from me now. A wicked thought came to my mind that if brother failed again, then we would be in the same class together; then he would not be able to scold 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 have been passing with good marks.
Brother became a little mild. There were several occasions when he could have scolded me, but he did not do so. Perhaps he had come to realize that he no longer held any authority to preach me - or if he had, 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 was bound to pass whether I studied or not. I stopped studying even the little that I used to study earlier out of fear. I had developed a new love for flying kites and most of my time would be spent in the pursuit of that hobby. But I respected brother and flew kites after making sure that he was out of sight. I did not wish to convey to elder brother that I had lost respect for him even slightly.
One evening, I was chasing a free flying kite that had been cut in a kite fight. My eyes were lifted up to the sky and the mind was focused on the sky traveler. The kite drifted lazily and 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 tehsildars after passing the eighth grade. I know so many people who, after having passed the eighth grade, are today magistrates, superintendents and editors of newspapers. And you, despite being in the eighth grade, are chasing a kite! I feel sad for you."