Mr. Awasthi looked at the items on the table and let out a sigh. Two adult magazines and a packet of cigarettes in the bag of a resident student. That too, a student of 11th Standard. Teen problems, yes! But how to deal with a student whose father had been a star student and a favourite of his?
‘Sahib, the electricity bill’, it was the peon.
Mr. Awasthi took the bill. On seeing the amount, he sat down on his chair heavily.
It had been only 20 days since he had joined this post and already he seemed to be submerging in the flood of problems.
A school with such a rich history was now losing its shine. Why? What was wrong?
He didn’t know when it was already six in the evening when he heard a knock, ‘Yes, come in’.
A tall boy with unruly hair and familiar features stepped in.
‘Yes?’ asked Mr. Awasthi.
‘I thought you would want to meet me’, said the young man.
‘Me? Why should I want to meet you?’, asked the Principal
‘Because……I am Suraj and my things are lying there’, said he.
‘Ohh, is it? No…. I didn’t want to meet you’. Said Awasthi observing the look of surprise in the boy’s face, ‘I have more important things to do than worrying about spoilt rich boys.’
A look of defiance ran across Suraj’s face.
‘After all’, Mr. Awasthi continued, ‘why should I worry about you when I know that your father has enough money to throw upon you. If you don’t get seat in any college, your father will buy you one’.
Suraj had the look of irritation on his face. But he kept mum, just turned about and started to leave.
‘Just a minute’, called out Mr. Awasthi.
‘You like these things?’
Suraj shrugged and then said, ‘Timepass’
‘You mean to say you have lot of time in your hands?’, asked Mr. Awasthi.
‘We are not allowed Mobile phones, The television has only Nat Geo and Discovery…what is a person to do over here?’, said Suraj.
‘You have nothing to do sports, preparing for University entrance?’, asked Mr. Awasthi.
Suraj shrugged again and said, ‘Entrance exams are not so tough. 80% of the guys are busy in preparations and there is nobody capable to play with. And for the other….’, he stopped.
‘Continue, what are you afraid of’, pressed Mr. Awasthi
Again Suraj had the look of defiance, ‘Our basketball and badminton courts are not well maintained. And our coaches have their own agenda’
‘What is their agenda?’, asked Mr. Awasthi
‘Why should I tell you? You find out’, answered Suraj
Mr. Awasthi chuckled silently. By now he had understood Suraj’s problem.
‘Okay’, he said, ‘I need some help, can you help me?’,
‘Me? What can I do’, it was obvious that he was interested.
‘look at this electricity bill, it is enormous. I give you one week; tell me some ways to reduce our electricity consumption. I also want you to tell me how to reduce our food costs’, said Mr. Awasthi.
‘But why should I do so?’. Said Suraj mockingly.
‘Afraid of not able to find anything, is it?’, mocked Mr. Awasthi in return.
Suraj got up suddenly, ‘I will get back to you in a week’, he said and left
Mr. Awasthi smiled
21 months later
It was April and the campus was being vacated. The 12th standard boys were bidding each other goodbye. Each one of them would be going in different ways from now on when suddenly Mr. Awasthi felt someone come and stand behind him. He turned to see Suraj, ‘Suraj my boy, adieu it is then huh?’.
‘More like Au Revoir sir’, he said. Mr. Awasthi raised an eyebrow, ‘I will be back one day….maybe I will take your post out of your hands.’
Mr. Awasthi roared in laughter.
‘That boy was always cheeky Sir but then you really turned him around’, said the peon
‘All the children cannot be nurtured in the same way Sakharam. For a sharp boy like Suraj we had to engage his mind. Didn’t he find out different easy to generate our own electricity and wasn’t he responsible to reduce our food costs. And then so many students he has coached this year even though he himself was in 12th. A common size of jeans doesn’t fit all, some need designer fits’, said Mr. Awasthi with twinkling eyes.
‘Common size jeans…’, said Sakharam scratching his head, the last part of what Mr. Awasthi had said had gone over his head.
‘Never mind Sakharam, switch off the lights’, said Mr. Awasthi as he walked away.
Just like two different flower bushes in a garden need different care similarly different children need different nurturing. And the difference is because of the mind. Some minds move faster, some are slow. The mind is just a monkey which keeps on hopping from one branch to another. Especially in the growing up years it is necessary to keep it engaged. The Bhagavad Gita says
asamsayam maha-baho mano durnigraham calam
abhyasena tu kaunteya vairagyena ca grhyate
The Blessed Lord said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by constant practice and by detachment. (BG 6.35)
Some minds need some extracurricular activities and some just some challenges.
I’m Writing Bravely for the Write Tribe Festival of Words – March 2019
The prompt for today ‘Nurture”.