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I looked scrutinizingly at Suryaprakash after making this short speech; there was a look of remorse on his face instead of a mocking grin. He had probably come to hear a few words of praise from me - a few words of praise from a teacher who had given up the student as good-for-nothing but who eventually rose to a high position. I realized my mistake; I should not be criticizing wealth and power before a successful person. I, therefore, changed the subject abruptly and said, "But, tell me about yourself. How did this transformation come about in you? I still shudder whenever I recall your pranks."
"It is because of your blessings," he said with a smile.
After much persuasion, Suryaprakash told me his story.
"After you left, my cousin brother enrolled in the school. He was eight or nine years old. The principal did not allow him to stay in the hostel, and Uncle could not make alternative arrangements for accommodation. I requested the principal to accommodate him in my hostel room, but the principal dismissed the suggestion saying it was against the rules.
"I vacated the hostel room in anger. I found accommodation on rent and began staying there with Mohan. His mother had died a few years ago. He was such a frail boy and so very trusting that I felt pity for him. He was sickly. Some days he would have a headache and some days he would have a fever; he was always suffering from some illness or the other. He was so sickly that he would begin to doze early in the evening and, then, slept till late into the day. It was with much difficulty that I could wake him up for his meals. Often, he woke up in the middle of the night from a frightful dream; he would, then, come to my bed and go to sleep clinging to me. I could never get angry at him.
"I cannot say why I developed an affection for him. I, who used to get up not before 9 am, now woke up early in the morning and warmed the milk for him. I would, then, wake him, make him brush his teeth, and then served him breakfast. I was very concerned about his health and took him for a walk every day. I, who never opened my text-books, now took his lessons for hours together. I feel surprised as to how I became aware of my responsibilities. I used to be so worried if he fell ill; I would run to the doctor, fetch medicines, and coax him into taking them. I did not wish to do anything against his wishes; the poor boy had only me to look after him. If any of my friends teased him, it made me angry; my friends began to taunt me and called me 'old granny'. But I laughed and tolerated their jest. I never uttered a single abusive word in Mohan's presence because I was scared he might try to copy my ways and get spoilt. I wished to become his ideal; it was, therefore, necessary for me to alter my behavior. I, gradually, gave up my wayward ways. I no longer woke up late, loitered around till noon, planned new pranks, or skipped school. I had been the greatest enemy of good character and good health; now, I was their most ardent protector.
"I was an atheist, but now I became a strong believer. Mohan would ask me with childish faith, 'If God is present everywhere, then God must be within me too?' I could not laugh away this question and would reply, 'Yes, God is within each of us and protects us.' He would brighten up at this assurance.
"Within a year, Mohan's health improved greatly. When Uncle visited us, he was surprised. 'Son, you have restored him; I had given up hopes. God will bless you. Mohan's mother is thanking you from heaven,' he told me with tears welling in his eyes."
There were sparkling tears in Suryaprakash's eyes as he narrated his story.
"Mohan must love you a lot," I said.
There was a wistful longing in Suryapraksh's eyes. "Mohan never left me even for a minute; he sat by my side, ate his meals with me, and slept with me. I was everything to him. Ah! He is no longer in this world, but he is still alive for me. It is he who moulded me into whatever I am today. If he had not come as a divine guide and showed me the way, I would probably have been languishing in some jail today. He disliked bathing in the morning. One day I threatened to stop talking to him if he did not bathe; the result of my threat was that he would bathe the first thing in the morning, even if it was chilling cold."
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