Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Tale of Two Young Kids

This is a story in progress but its fascinating to watch it unfold. It's a tale of two young kids that I have seen growing for the past ten years or more - right from their primary school days. One is the son of the maid and the other is the son of the chap who cleans the car.

Now the son of the chap who cleans the car. He is a serious, hardy fellow who seemed pretty focused on all that he did. He'd come around to help his father even when he was small and I'd always make him sit beside. He was respectful but had an air of dignity around him - no unnecessary subservient behavior. His father is a weak, ill looking chap and I always wonder how he manages so much work - I also know he has to work his frail frame longer hours to educate his children - the son and the daughter. The son showed promise and his father would tell me how he was doing well in his studies etc. One day I saw the son's picture on the huge vinyl posters outside his school - he scored the highest marks in the school. Wow! Then Intermediate and wonder of wonders - he cracked the engineering exam and got himself a seat in NIT, Trichy which is a great achievement. He met me before he went and I gave him some books to read including 'The Men Within' for some inspiration.

That's not his story though. His story is this. Every time he comes back for vacation, this boy who studies Engineering in a college higher ranked than the one I went to, has no qualms in picking up the wash rag and standing in for his father almost every day. He shows the same dedication to work, carries the same dignity and nothing seems out of place as he does a diligent job of washing the car. I am amazed at the values this kid has. Every time I talk to him he has the same self assurance and self awareness, the same smile. Fantastic.

Then the son of the maid. She lost her husband when the children were small, ten years ago. She worked her way and educated them. She has a spirit you can see of wanting to make her life better, to make her children enjoy a good life. You could see it in the way she dressed them up, the way she herself dressed or carried herself, with pride. Both her children, again a boy and a girl, studied through school and have now come to Intermediate.

And this is where the stories take different turns. She promised the kid a motorcycle for clearing his exams perhaps and the boy is seen at odd hours with three or four of his friends (all looking like they are up to no good if you ask me) riding that poor bike, dressed in flashy clothes, a cocky air to them. I asked the maid's father, who also works here, how the boy was faring. He said the boy had become very surly and rude and is out of control. There is no way he will lift a finger to help his mother, forget about studying well.

I do not know much about the second kid and I hope he has the sense to pull back and focus on his studies. It may be difficult I can see. But they have this shining example right before their eyes - this kid who comes to clean this car every morning - and the bright future that lies ahead of him. A future that can equalise all that his father had not experienced. In a few years this kid can buy himself houses and cars bigger than the ones his father and mother worked at.

In all likelihood the maid's kid is not heading in that direction. I cannot foresee a great future for him - not in the conventional path (he might become a great leader, who knows). The same backgrounds, same opportunities. The only difference seems to be the discipline and values that the kids imbibed. The difference between tough love and indulgent love shows clearly and its such a pity because this other kid could have (hopefully might still) gone the same way.

I watch their stories unfold with great fascination. But whatever happens to the story, I cannot ever forget the sight of the boy, second year Mechanical Engineering  at NIT, Trichy, stolidly stepping forward to clean the car. It's wonderful.

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