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"You might think that since you are just one grade lower than me, I have no more right to say anything to you. But that is your mistake. I am older than you by five years, and even if we come together in the same class - if the examiners continue in the same fashion then this will be quite possible next year, and you may even cross me in another year's time - the five years of age difference cannot be wiped off even by god. I am older than you by five years and shall always remain older than you by five years. I have more experience of life and you cannot equal that even if you go on to do MA, D.Litt, or D.Phil. Wisdom is not acquired through reading books but through experience. Mother did not pass a single class, and father also probably never studied beyond the fifth or sixth grade; but even if we read all the books in the world they would still have the right to advice and correct us. It is not merely because they are our parents but because they have more experience of life. They might not know what type of government exists in America, or how many times did Henry VIII marry, or how many constellations are there in the sky; but they know a thousand other things which you and me do not know."
"God forbid, but if I were to suddenly fall sick, you will become scared and the only thing that you will be able to do is send a telegram to father. But if father were in your place, he would not get scared and send telegrams to anybody. He would first try to recognize the symptoms, and if he is not successful at that he would send for the doctor. Well, sickness is something serious; you and I don't even know how to manage the expenses. We spend whatever we receive from home within 20-22 days, and then we have to do without breakfast and have to hide from the washer-man and barber. But father has lived the major portion of his life in dignity on half the amount that both of us spend today. He has managed a family of nine members on that amount."
"Look at our own headmaster. He has done his MA and that too from Oxford! He gets a salary of Rs 1000, but who manages his home? His old mother! Headmaster's degree has been of no use in this matter. Initially he used to manage the affairs of his home but his expenses always exceeded his income. He fell into debts. But ever since his mother took the management of the house in her own hands, things changed for the better. So dear brother, cast off your pride that now since you are almost in the same class as I you can do as you please. I will never allow you to tread the wrong path. And if you don't listen to me I (showing me his open palm) can also make use of this. My words may be poison to you".
Brother's introduction of this new line of argument caused me to bow down my head in shame. I realized how small I really was and that realization made me look at brother with newfound adoration. My eyes glistened with tears that wanted to break free. I said, "Whatever you are saying is absolutely true. You have every right to speak to me in these manner."
Brother embraced me and said, "I do not wish to prevent you from flying kites. I also crave to fly kites, but what can I do? If I tread the wrong path how will I be able to protect you? I have a duty to perform."
By a quirk of fate, a kite, annihilated in a battle, sailed over our heads just then. The string was dangling within reach. Hordes of boys chased the coveted trophy. Brother is quite tall; he leaped, easily caught hold of the string, and then bolted for the hostel. I took after him.
This is a humorous story, but with a few takeaways. The narrator of the story begins by telling how his elder brother though older than him by five years is only three grades above in school. The narrator thinks that his elder brother has repeated grades in order to build a strong educational foundation. The narrator is a small child and, therefore, probably incapable of making satirical remarks; so, I believe whatever reasons he attributes to his elder brother repeating grades are his sincere impressions without any trace of sarcasm. The younger brother truly believes his elder brother is studious and has far greater wisdom, and that he must obey his elder brother unquestioningly; this, in fact, is a lesson we have all been taught since childhood: we must respect our elders and obey them unquestioningly.
The narrator likes to play; he doesn't like to study and yet he not only passes his examinations but passes with flying colours! The elder brother, on the other hand, studies and studies and yet fails! Does this imply that the elder brother is stupid? My personal opinion is a big No. Some people have a better memory than others: it is nature's gift! So, I don't think it is fair to correlate the ability to recall memory with intelligence. The elder brother blames the education system, which is biased towards rote learning, for his failures. I find myself sympathezing with him. I think that is the first takaway from this story: the bias towards rote learning.
The elder brother has to act an elder brother because he is five years older than the narrator! The younger brother has to act a younger brother because he is five years younger! All this role playing has, I think, deprived the elder brother of his childhood. He cannot fly kites and he cannot play; he must study all day long because he feels it is his duty to set an example for the younger brother. It would have been so much better if the brothers had been good friends rather than trying to play their younger brother and elder brother roles to perfection! I think that's another takeaway from the story.
The end of the story, on first reading, seems kind of abrupt. But, I think it holds a deeper meaning. The elder brother is reprimanding the younger brother for wasting his time chasing kites. The younger brother admits his mistake; this admittance softens the elder brother and he probably feels he has discharged his duties well by sermonizing the younger brother. Pleased with himself for thoroughly advising his younger brother, the elder brother now opens his own heart. The elder brother, though older than the narrator by five years, is nevertheless a child himself! He confesses that he too wishes to fly kites. That confession breaks the ice! Just then a kite whose line had been cut in a duel sails above the heads of the brothers. A piece of string is still attached to the kite. The elder brother is quite tall; he leaps, catches hold of the string, and then dashes off with the prize. He has got back his childhood!
Some useful links for
- 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