In the quest of building my kids’ general knowledge, I began to make them read books and news paper everyday. I prefer ‘following’ some of the political leaders on twitter and FB to keep myself abreast with the current affairs and yet I was keen that my kids read news paper for the same reason. On their routine reading time, my son saw gruesome pictures of a lady in blood pool and flipped the page to avoid the cruel pictures. He then saw a black mask worn man’s picture standing along with the police and his crime was mentioned underneath. Curious, he inquired about the reason for his arrest by the cops. I fumbled and turned the page to dig out for cartoon ‘Calvin and Hobb’ for him.
The above incident startled me as I was short of words to explain the horrendous BMW hit and run case that showed a woman in the pool of blood or the man who raped and later killed his lady love was arrested by the cop. There was no way that I could tell him these ironic incidents in the name of general knowledge. I am now concerned and think more often than not on ‘how to tame their curious minds? How to ensure that they grasp that’s good and leave the rest?’ I’m dismayed by the fact that the news papers capture the ugliest story only to fabricate and make it appear as a ‘headline’ to grab attention of the readers. The episode hit me on my face with the reality and I shuddered by the facts. The restless night was spent tossing over the sides only to wake up with the determined mind.
There are lots of good people around who may not be in the news paper for their good deeds but are certainly a source of inspiration for me and many of us. They may not be classified as ‘Hero’ or grab headlines, yet instigate the values. So, I decided to show my kids such good people, places and stories. Read on the first story –
He is little over seventy, well built, good looking and as tall as 6 Ft. Fair in complexion and mostly has gray strands. He lives in a plush society of Delhi/NCR where people come from diverse financial backgrounds. All his friends are retired from respectable positions just like him. His tall career graph and meticulous working style defines him as the ‘man of numbers’, rightly so for he is a retired banker. When most of his friends are busy either taking a nap or playing cards he is plunged in the pile of paper work.
He has an urge to use his experience and knowledge for the less informed working class of his society. He began to work on building his team in the name of “Seva Samiti”. Together they are a bunch of 7-8 senior citizens. And, their work began on the very first day. The “man of numbers” decided to meet up with all his society’s security guards, maids, car cleaners, gardeners etc. He then queried them if they have bank accounts opened and as he guessed none of them have one.
He visited the nearest bank branch and explained the officials of his intentions. They were just too glad to extend their support and upon his return he brought account opening forms with him and personally sat with each one of these guards, maids, and cleaners to fill. As you know, they are less informed people who are ignorant of the documents and formalities involved therein. This could have stopped right here but the banker in him decided to submit these forms in the bank on their behalves and get the ‘pass book’ issuance process streamlined. Today, he has been successful with more than 80 people of his society who have their bank accounts opened.
He says “this will instill the value of saving money and deposit the same in their accounts and also curb the bad habits caused due to cash in hand such as liquor consumption or betting etc.” I was mesmerized by his dedication to his work. The banker further stated that opening an account for these staff members is just a way to give back to the society.
I was inspired by his thoughts and told my kids about the way this 71 years old retired banker is working for others. I wanted them to realize that there are good people in the world and my son quickly asked if he can meet the banker himself so that he can inquire if a “kids account” can be opened and his pocket money can be saved/deposited in it instead of the piggy bank that is safely hidden in his cupboard. I took him to my in-law’s room and declared that it’s none other than his grandfather. His wide eyes and dropped jaw was perfectly captured in my mind. He smiled at me and said “Momma, it’s so nice to know Dadaji this way. I like him better now!” And, he pounced on him happily and sat on his shoulders….I left the room satisfied with the fact that “Charity begins at home!!!”
It was during my numerous visits to ATMs, I’ve realized that the Rs. 2000 is insufficient to run the household and I needed to pay off my utility bills, maids, laundry and car cleaning staff. I was advised by most of them to pay in cash and not by the bank transfers. So, to cut a long story short, I drove off to a bank branch that was closer to be driven during the foggy and chilly morning. As I reached there, I witnessed a very long queue outside the bank covering approximate half a kilometer stretch. All the men were clad in thermal wears and rubbing their palms to keep themselves warm. There was a middle-aged security guard (whose uniform clung in such a fashion that his belly was visibly out) manning the bank door and talking friendly with the customers waiting for their turn.
Man 1 – ‘it’s unusually cold today!’ declared a young man (must have been in his early twenties and seemed like a daily wage earner by his rough palms and muddy nails).
Man 2 – ‘indeed it’s colder…it may get very cold during the season’ – barged in the other man who seemed like a sales professional by his expensive Tie and shiny shoes.
And just then a boyish tea seller who routinely visited the bank to serve tea amongst the bank staff appeared from nowhere. In his right hand, he carried aluminum teapot that had a charcoal black layer at the bottom due to constant burning/reheating and his left hand had a pile of paper cups in which he served the hot ginger tea.
The guard called – ‘Hey Chotu! Serve this tea to everyone standing here in the queue. They need this hot sip more than anyone here. It’s gonna take a while for them to withdraw money from their accounts. And yes, please add that money to my bill. It’s on me.’
I was touched by his gesture. There were people from all the classes and strata of the society. Some of them were working on daily wages and some were from middle class. I also saw few customers got down from their luxury cars and stood as per their turn. One such gentleman who was clad in white kurta , chudidar and wore a dark navy blue Nehru jacket got down from a white ambassador that flaunted the “Government” sticker on it. I was standing very close to this guard to eavesdrop the conversation between the said gentleman and the guard.
Gentleman – ‘is this huge line for money withdrawal?’ moving his hand in the direction of the queue and I noticed a huge gold plated wrist watch and many gold rings with some precious gem stones in it.
The Guard – ‘yes sir, it indeed is.’
Gentleman – ‘I need to withdraw money too!’ in a mellow tone that was out of synch with his appearance.
The guard – ‘well, then you must stand in this queue for your turn. They all are waiting for hours.’
The gentleman quietly went and sat in his car and his assistant who was younger and leaner than him came out of the car and stood in the queue for their turn. No jumping the queue, no bragging of status, no bribe offerings…it’s as simple as it can be….first come, first serve! Yes, we are Indians and we follow rules….we appreciate when everyone is treated equal…immaterial of the segments….we have patience but lack sanity to make it evident…this guard reminded me of just this fact!
As I withdrew money after two hours of wait and turned on my car’s ignition, I waved at the guard and witnessed his wrinkled smile…and in my heart I murmured “Guardian angel”