STORIES FOR INDIAN AND WESTERN EHV- Part-II Love can transform even a hard stone to butter, Swami always teaches the principle of LOVE. It is enough if you call ‘BABA’, With love from the depth of your heart. He will come to your rescue. Sai Baba, Vijaya Dasami – 2003 Some say Knowledge is Power, but it is not true Character is Power - Baba 51 Elephant Talk Group One Mrs. Elephant (Rumbling through the forest keeping her little calf near) I see the herb waiting for us down below so we’d better, Raju. Durga Namaste Uma, What took you so long? Uma Oh, you know, I thought I heard one of those poachers in the bushes along the way but it turned out to be just a friendly old lion.. Durga You must mean old Shambho. Yes, I met up with him myself. He doesn’t have many teeth left so he’s a right friendly fellow now. His children have to hunt for him. Durga Nice family, hope my kids will do the same when I get old. She took a friendly slap at her calf. Raja Don’t you worry, Mummy I’ll always be grateful to you for all your care, even though papa isn’t around to help. I’ll never be a rouge elephant either. Song Bless our Mothers, Lord we pray Bless our Mother, every single day Bless our Mother, keep the strong Bless our Mother, all year long Uma Your Papa isn’t a rouge elephant, Raja, he’s a very important elephant in the male herd and keeps the rouges from harming us ladies. Lakshmi How was your journey from Madurai? Uma Glad to be away from that place. All those men are angry and mean these days. Besides I wish those humans would get out of our way, let us be. For thousands of year we’ve traveled these tracks. It’s been our way and the only way we know. Lakshmi Oh well, they don’t care anything about us except for our tusks, of course. Durga Sometimes I wonder why Mother Nature gave us these tusks. Just brings suffering and death. All these old rogue elephants love them of course but they don’t do us much good. Raja I’ll be glad when I get tusk, Mama, then I can take care of the herd like Papa. You’ve always taken such good care of me and my sisters and brother. Some day I’ll take care of you. Uma I had a nice time last night as we entered the National Forest. Some foreign hunters had up one of those fancy expensive tents with electricity and all those other conveniences. My baby here almost pulled down the thing down before I caught him. Lakshmi Oh Lord, They think they’re roughing it in their air conditioned tents. Uma I know, I known. Well, this fellow had a TV… a very large screen so I could see in the window. There he was, lying there on his cot swinging away out of a bottle and watching cricket. Durga Cricket! Aiyo! I wish my son could have seen it. Uma What was so interesting was that another fellow switched channels and got a program about a holy man here in India. He was of handsome with His black curly hair and orange robe. Durga That must have been Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He used to bring His student tru the Bandipore Forest. We all fell in love with Him. Once my husband saw Him and went into sort of a trance …. A love trance. Since then he’s been the very gentlest of all the elephants. Lakshmi That’s all well and good but I wish He would help us save our habitate. Uma Seems to me these brilliant human fellows would realize that these tourists come here to see us after all. They must think that they are the sights to see. Durga Well, when the forest is all gone and the elephant population is wiped out, we’ll see how many tourists come over here then. Ping Ping! Uma What’s that? Oh Lord, looks like we’ve got a poacher on our tail. We’d better run for it. Durga Ha! He missed all of us. His children will go hungry because he had no ivory to sell to the forest officials. Gratitude Thank you, Mummy for giving me My food to eat and a place to be Thank you Daddy for working so That I might live and I might grow Thank you sweet earth for giving me The mountains and the valleys and trees I see Thank to everyone that I might share My love with all, my heart to care. And thanks to me, I know I’ll be Strong and good and brave and free 52 The Law of Compassion Group two Retired Major KS Bhatia had never married. When anyone asked him why, he always made a feeble joke like, “Missed the right miss”, or “Couldn’t marry the kumari.” He made the Army his life. But the Major was a kindly man. Being a bachelor, he never bothered to make a proper home for himself and lived in rented flats after retirement. He purchased one large comfortable cane chair and foot stool so that he and Simba, his cat, could sit out in the evenings and watch the human parade. The Major, buy the way, wasn’t simply an observer of the people around him. He had his charitable work. As he had inherited a small amount from his father, he could afford to give about Rs.400 each month and He always gave anonymously. As it was turning chilly, he was looking forward to disturbing blankets to the beggars down by the bus station. So, he was in a happy frame of mind this morning when he fixed his usual meal of upma and called the cat “Smiba, come and eat,” he called. No cat. He took his won plate and pulled up his chair on the balcony to enjoy his breakfast. Major Strange, Simba is ravenously hungry these days because she is expecting.. After this I will have her altered. Three batches of kittens were more than enough. But for now he would comfort and spoil her, giving her extra tidbits, because that was the way he was. This morning, however he was getting worried. “Simba,” he called but there was still no answer. Around 10 o’clock he became very worried and so, taking his cane and wrapping his shawl around his shoulders, he started looking for her. He walked through the bazaar to the corner where the old theatre stood. As he was passing the theatre, he thought he heard something. Was that the wail of a baby or – he retraced his steps and heard it once again. “Meow!” Yes, that was definable his cat, he thought excitedly. Major Simba, Simba, (he called loudly, much to the amusement of some passing ladies. He didn’t give a fig!) Simba (he bellowed,) where you are you? Kids Meow! Coming Father, (called a young kid on a bike, laughing as he rode by.) He heard “Meow” once again. She obviously couldn’t come out, so the Major jumped over the wall in an effort to enter the building. Policeman Just a moment there, there’s private property Major But my cat is there The policeman almost laughed out –right. Policeman The theatre owner has the chai shop across the street. I suggest that you go there. The major crossed the street briskly, canein hand and shawl flying A lorry had to slkam on the brakes to avoid hitting him. Major Do you own that theatre? (He demanded) The man was making tea. The chai shop walla wiggled his head in the affirmative. Major Well sir, my cat is inside your theatre. Kindly unlock the door and let her out. She has not had her breakfast. (He was quite flustered by this time.) Tea man No breakfast, is that right. Too bad, Sir (he said as all the customers had a bit of a chuckle.) But you see, Sir, unfortunately, I no longer have the keys. It seems that the bank has taken possession and sealed the building. Sorry for your cat, but they are clever animals, aren’t they? She’ll figure a way. Major She is pregnant! (He said rather loudly.) Tea man Not my fault, Sir, (said the chai shop walla sending all the customers into loud laughter.) Major Which bank has the keys? I will go there.. Tea Man State Bank. Hope that you have better luck than I did! Off he went again, shawl flying and cane held in swagger stick position, a trait which was left over from military days, no doubt. Entering the Bank, he used his cane to rap on the front counter. Bank Clerk Here, here, Sir, that’s no way to behave. Major Never mind, I must speak to the manager immediately!! The manager (running fast and, expecting at least that all the been embezzled from his account, murmured while ringing his hands) please sir, I’m sorry but we can explain everything. Just sit down while we check up! Major Yes, we must check up now before she starves to death.. Bank Man Before who starves to death, Sir? Major Why Simba, my cat, of course. I’m sorry, let me explain. You have my cat locked up in your theater and it’s been nearly twenty hours since she’s had a mouthful of food! Bank Man Get the watchman, Ramish, this man is mad. Quickly now, before he cause some harm ! Major What? What are you doing? (bellowed the poor Major as he was being unceremoniously shown the door.) I tell you my cat is…. But, alas, they threw the good Major out of the Bank before he had a chance to tell the man that Simba was also pregnant. He returned slowly to the theatre and stood listening to the plaintive “Meow” with tears in his eyes. He didn’t know where to turn. Across the street at the chai shop, an advocate sat with his morning cup of chai. He had been privy to the entire scene and, not altogether without selfish motive, decided that he would intervene. He slowly crossed the street and invited the Major for another chai. Major I just don’t know what to do next. Lawyer You know (He said quietly) the Magistrate here is a pretty decent chap. I really think that he might be of some assistance. Would you like for me to take you to see him? Major Oh please. The two men knocked at the doors of the Chief Judicial Magistrate with the plea that the theatre doors, which were sealed, be opened because the cat, who was caught therein, would certainly starve to death shortly. The Court then issued orders to open the doors only to rescue the cat, in the presence of the theater owner, the cat’s owner and the Bank officials, who looked very perturbed. No sooner was the door open than the cat leapt into the arms of the Major and purring loudly, began to lick him in happiness while the Major wiped away tears of joy and relief Understanding Do you understand just how I feel Understanding helps to make hurts all heal Do you understand what I have to say? If you do I’m happy, I feel better right away There is an old saying, old but rue That if I wear understanding is very rare ‘cause it shows for certain That you really care 53 Floppy Rabbit Group Two Scene one Outside a hut Andhra Pradesh Srinivas A few years back, thinks were pretty bad. The pots in my mother’s kitchen were black with soot and the soap was only a tiny sliver like the fast-wining moon. My parents were hungry, I could tell, though they never let know the truth. The truth was that my father’s pieces of art weren’t selling. Father We carved elephants and deer for the Maharaja’s court and, of course our statues of the Gods and Goddesses won many prizes. Now, of course, there is no more Maharaja and no court, but foreigners seems to like the things we do. You see, son, the Andhra Pradesh Government comes around and buys all our things to see in their Andhra Pradesh comes around and buys all our things to see in their Andhra Pradesh State Handicraft shops. They get the tourist trade in the shops. It saves me a lot of trouble. Srinivas But Appa, you don’t get the same price as in the shops, do you? Can’t you sell to the people around here? Father Who would buy a wooden elephant? Who has the money? We live in a poor district, Srinivasa, you should know that even at your tender age. I want you to start school next week. You cannot be an artisan, there is not enough money to be made. Srinivas But I knew that I had the art in his fingers and hands, I knew that. Sometimes they almost itched , the shakti in them causing them to shake. When I sqatted in the dirt waiting for class to start, my fingers would draw elephants and deer, tigers and, sometimes, men as well. Student That’s really nice Srinivasa when did you learn that? Srinivas Appa is an artisan. You really like it? Another Student Oh you here draw me a picture on this paper, I’ll give you half an apple. Srinivas No, I don’t want anything . Art is free. God gives it, isn’t it? Srinivas And so I grew and studied, my art works also improved. I learned what the other children like. Also, I watched TV at the houses of my friends for inspiration and even looked at books at the district library. Father Absolutely not, Srinivasa. No, Srinivas! Being an artisan is too hard. You would never be able to raise a family decently. You don’t know how hard it’s been. You must study now for the Government Service. Srinivas I tried very hard but couldn’t let go of the art and it seemed that the art wouldn’t let go of me either. Even just observing the world about me was a lesson in art. I notised the way man’s arm tapered down to his wrist, and how the brow hung over the eye socket. Also, I watched my father work, quietly sitting in the corner. Later, in the bullock shed, I carved small figures sanding them until they were smooth and had a glow. Father I have found some of the boy’s work and now I can see that there is no stopping him. He is a fine artisan as I am even now. God has given him a good eye (he said smiling to himself), and he works with such love. Srinivasa Now, I sensed my father’s approval and so I started exhibiting a style of his own. My father’s realistic style was wonderful and he had managed to duplicate artisiry well but, somehow, when I brought those small pieces to school to show or to give away to the students, they were not very popular. A Student We’ve have seen those deer before Srinivas, but that little rabbit with the floppy ears it’s really funny. Could I have it for my sister’s birthday ? Srinivas More and more, the animals and human characters developed expressions of their own, full of feeling and humour, endearing them to the students. Srinivas One day after school he was approached by a tall man wearing spectacles and a two-piece suit. Man Master Srinivas? Srinivas I stood still. Man Master Srinivas the artist? Srinivas Ah….could be. Man Yes, yes! I was told could find you here. I am B J Gupta, Moon River Enterprises, Chennai. Could I talk to you for a movement? Man Perhaps we could sit here under this tree. Is this all right with you, my lad? Srinivas By this time, all the boys in the higher secondary school had gathered around and made themselves comfortable, squatting in a circle. Man Srinivasa, it’s like this. My brother’s family lives in this district in the next village. I believe you gave my nephew, Krishnan, a small rabbit for his sister. Srinivas He took out the small figurine. Srinivas Yes, I did that. Man Can you do more, son? Srininvas Yes Sir, how many. Man We have an emporium The Moon River Theme Park, and we can sell as many as you make. Student (Shouting) He can do other things as well, Sir. Take a look at this one, and he threw a small statue of a squirrel to the man. Man This is excellent, simply excellent. It’s almost alive and yet it has quizzical expression. Another Student He did this one , too Sir. Srinivas And soon the boys had added four or five little figurines that I had given away, to the collection, spread out in front of the man. Man Son, we’ll supply the wood and buy you some paints as well. Teacher (Who had joined the group) Will you have the time with your school work, Srinivas? Srininvas Yes Sir, (beaming) I’ll teach my father the new design. He’s a real craftsman, an artisan like his father, and his father before him. Man I see, I see, now I understand. Looks like I’ve stumbled upon real talent here. Our company pays quiet well, also you know. Srinivas You can come to my house now, Sir. My father would like to meet you to discuss the particulars. Deep inside is a little voice It is not a great big noise It is my conscience guiding me To be the best that I can be 54 As Luck Would Have It Group Two True story from the Hindu Somasekhar was usually pretty cheerful as he drove his passengers to their destinations around Bangalore. He like his work, but today, he was worried about something. His Chit Fund money was due, business had been slow and he would have to borrow from the money he always set aside for his daughter’s wedding. He and his wife had seceded to have only one child, but to do the best job possible. It bothered him a little that she had been a girl, but how glad he was now for she was his constant delight. As he was thinking in this way he picked up a fare in Marutisevanagar. He noticed that the man was a Muslim gentleman with a short beard, and that he had some luggage. That was all he noticed. Somashekhar drove the gentleman to OMBR layout in Banaswadi and deposited him at the doorstep of his home, charging only ‘metre’, although he wasn’t so sure of a fare back to Bangalore proper. Somasekahar picked up another passenger, younger with longish hair. Directions were given and they tooled off. Somesekahar Yes Sir, I know where that is. (He pulled down the meter flag). Although he was still immersed in his own thoughts, Somasekhar noticed something wasn’t quite right. This long- haired fellow had gotten in empty handed but he seemed to be rifling through a briefcase. Somesekhar Was that briefcase there when you got in? Man Yes, is it yours? Somasekhar It’s my rickshaw, isn’t it? Hand it over! Man Here then, looks like a new pager. Those things bring pretty good money. Somasekhar Oh no, you don’t, give it here. Man Okay, okay, let me out (the guy fled without paying.) Somasekhar pulled over and looked at the case. The Muslim fellow must have forgotten it, left it on the floor and taken the rest of his luggages. He opened it and found that it contained valuable looking documents, like pension papers from the Air Force and an ID card, as well as the pager. “Wing Commander PG Ibraham,” he read. Somasekhar Okay, so I’ll get my brother-in-law Sureshbabu to go there with me tomorrow. I hope the fellow pays me for the extra trip. The next day, Wing Commander Ibraham was sitting in his living – room having a cup of coffee, after having registered the missing brief-case with the police. He hadn’t slept all night. The papers in his case were his original pension document, and there were other his original pension documents, and there were other things as well. There was a knock at the door. Ibraham I’ll get the door, Aisha. Somasekhar Wing Commandar P.G. Ibraham? Ibraham That’s right Somasekhar You seem to have left this behind, sir, in my rickshaw. Commandar Ibraham felt tears sting his eyes. Ibraham God is great! Ah, yes, Jolly good, come in boys and… but come to think of it, my wife doesn’t know about the loss, ha ha. (He looked furtively over his shoulder.) Somasekhar Doesn’t matter, sir, I think you’ll find everything there and accounted for. Ibraham Jolly good! So kind of you, and here’s a little something for your Trouble. He pulled two crisp ‘Gandhis’ from his wallet and handed them to the two men before closing the door with a relieved sigh. Sureshbabu smiled at his brother-in-law before handing over his Rs. 500. Sureshbabu Honesty pays, sport. I’ll buy you breakfast, Somasekhar. Somasekhar Thanks, guy had tears in his eyes, did you notices? He touched the feet of the picture of Mother Lakshmi he had pasted under the windshield, and rollicked away, grinning broadly. What is the Meaning of Integrity What is the meaning of integrity? It means that I listen to the God in me. It means I will speak of the truth in me. It means you can trust in my honesty It mans you can always count on me. What is the meaning of integrity? It means you can always count on me. 55 Post Group Two A Playlet Postman Post!” Adiamma What? No post here! Postman No Amma, I have post! I am the postman! Adiamma Aiyo Papam. Who is it for, Appa? Postman It is for Adiamma of Rayapurum. Adiamma Cannot be, I am Adiamma of Rayapurum and I have no post. No one here can read or write a letter. Postman Yes, yes! Here, take this, Amma! Maybe from your daughter. She goes to school now, isn’it? All the Mothers got cards this morning. Adiamma Aiyo, I don’t believe it! I never received post before. Look! My daughter penned this. Ah, what is she saying? Please read. Post man She is saying: ‘I like my school and my place in the hostel is also nice. Some of the girls are devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba too. Learning to read and write but there is also time for play. Best regards, Shantha. Adiamma She writes all of that? Aiyo Ramachandra! Postman All the girls have written the same on every card. Adiamma Wait until my husband comes. Now we have an education girl. I hope I can remember, what it says so I can read it to him. Chinnamma (coming from the house next door) What is the news? Adiamma See here, Chinnamma! Now you will be sorry that you didn’t send your daughter to literacy camp. My Shantha is learning to read at her own speed just as the Bal Vikas guru promised. Chinnamma Aiyo my husband said no. Adiamma See, Chinnamm, I am glad that we sent our girl, even though it ?? that we must work much more to take up for the salary she made picking flowers. Adiamma I would have done it but my husband said no! Is that a letter you have there? Adiamma Yes, you made a mistake. So many girls and boys have gone, many thousands from our district. I was also worried about her living away from home. The MVF Trust, (Hyderabad-based M Venkatarangaiya Foundation) made all arrangements. My girl says hostel is nice and safe and they have pictures of every god in the lobby, even Sathaya Sai Baba. Iswari (Brings papers to show her neighbours) Here, here, Adiamma, my Kesha has written a story for class her school this village. Look! The teachers uses the facts in my daughter’s story to teach the children about numbers, and spelling and social studies. She was chosen from all the others. Adiamma Your daughter is elder to mine, Next year, mine will do more than that.” Chinnamma Papam, I will have to talk to my husband again. We are losing out on good chances. Your daughter will certainly get good husbands We have Learned We have learned, we have learned What the words ‘right action’ mean We must do what we think is right Every day and every night Think of love, think of peace, Think of truth in all you do Find these values in your heart As each day you can start If you use these values true ‘Right’ is all that you can do And happiness with all you share Because with these values We’ll know you care 56 Mysore Group Three A Playlet Jyothi I am from Mysore and I had to live in the TB Sanitarium for a whole year. They took very good care of me except they have a TV in our children’s ward and we watched it all day long. We watched a lot of foreign TV on cable and that was very odd. I got into some bad thinking from watching foreign TV. I’ll tell you something that happened. TV I love you my dearest….And I love you also…. I thought you loved Peter more, my deared. .. No no. .. That was only because I felt you were more fond of Sharon…. Oh no, not at all. … I have always loved you and I always will… Always?… Jyothi My mind was a little confused from all the medication and because I was bed-ridden. We watches this one foreign TV soap opera every single day and all they talked about it seemed was…love. All the time./ How much they loved, who they loved why they didn’t love, why the love had changed…like that. The mother would tell the children how much she loved them, the husband would say to the wife. he didn’t love her, the wife would talk about how she loved in the past. Like that they went on day after day… taking about love. Jyothi (To a nurse giving out her medication) On TV, they only talk about love all the time, Sister. We in Mysore never mention love do we? We never talk that way at all. I feel confused in my mind and I’m beginning to wonder if there was ever any love in our family at all.. I had never heard the word mentioned and now I’m beginning to worry unnecessarily. Nurse Don’t be silly. Child. It’s only a western TV program. Jyothi But I wonder if my parents loved me or loved each other. I am thinking in this way and it is beginning to weigh on my mind. Nurse It does seem to be worrying you to a very great effect. You must come out of these because you seem to be losing the battle against your illness. Jyothi My family was worried and I began thinking, I don’t care if I get well. I don’t want to live in a family without anyway. Everyday I felt as if I were slipping away . Mother Oh Jyothi, how are you dear. I will sit and hold your hand. Jyothi She would sit with me by the hour but I could not feel any love from my mother. My mind was so upset. Mother I think you look little bit pale today, Jyothi. Jyothi Mama (whispering). I feel as if I am leaving this life. (Mother begins weeping). Jyothi (Whispering) There is only one thing I would like before I close my eyes. Mother Yes my dearest, soon you’ll feel better but what is this wish. Jyothi I would like to hear you say that you love me. Mother I am so amazed. I don’t understand (she said holding me in her arms and gently rocking me.) You don’t know that I love You, Jyothi? Jyothi You never said. Mother I never said the sky is blue or that water is wet either. Jyothi But on TV soaps. People are always saying how much they love each other. Mother TV! SO that’s it, you’ve been watching bad things on the TV. That belongs to another culture, my dear, not our culture. Their thoughts and feelings are different and it doesn’t have anything to do with us here in Mysore. Jyothi It doesn’t? Mother No, Jyothi. In Mysore we love with purity and single mindedness; respect, honor and duty. We love because it’s our nature to love. We love because god has given us his love in our hearts to share with one and all. Sri Sathya Sai calls love prema because it is God’s love. God is love, you know Jyothi I was quite then, because I realized that my mind had been very confused and from that day I began making a lot of improvement. People in Mysore love each other very much. Love Love, love, love, love is God Live, live, live, live in love Expand your heart to encompass all Live, live in love Your Master is in your heart Your heart where god resides God is in you, with you, above you, around you, And behind you Love, love, love, love is god 57 The Greening of Malika Group Three A PLAY Scene One Two ladies are at the podium, one, Malika, is addressing an audience. The other, Christina, is seated on the dais. There is a large banner on the wall WELCOME FBH…Feeding Bangalore’s Hungary. Also on the wall, we see the emblem of the International Rotary Club. There are two lines of chairs and we see the backs of the members of the audience seated in the chairs. The program has already started, Christina In answer to your question, Ma’m, Malika and I have enjoyed working here in Bangalore, feeding the hungry. Malika (smiling broadly) But the part we like the most is when we visit the five stars 2 or three times a week, collecting gourmet food for our elderly people who don’t have teeth to chew their food. Everyone laughs Christina We have a little song that we sing while we feed our elderly patients in the old age homes. Would you like to hear it (YES, YES) Ok well we put it to simple tune. Does everyone know, Three Blind Mice? (YES YES) Three Blind Mice Waste not food Waste not food Food is God, Food is God The children are hungry both day and night Wasting food is an awful sight Throwing away food is a sin, all right Don’t waste food, Don’t waste food. Audience Applauds Member of the Audience What do you do with the food you collect? Malika We sort it out. The continental food which has a lot of pasta, is non- spicy and so it goes to the elderlies who have stomach problem. We never accept non-veg food of any kind, of course. Members of the Audience. Why not. Meat dishes have lots of protein. It’s the best food for young people. Malika. We don’t think so at all. Not only because it is against Hinduism but also because meat can cause many diseases. It’s dead flesh after all. Member of the Audience. How did you start this project in the first place, Ma’m? Malika How did it start? Oh my goodness. It started many years ago when we were in college, didn’t it, Christina? Christina nods and smiles. Scene two A stylishly dressed young woman enters a restaurant caring many bags. She comes in and sits down with two more college girls and everyone is giggling and talking at once. Malika I know that your, Saroj, prefer to eat at places on Commercial Street like, Taj Bakery or Woody’s but I love the milk shakes here at Whimpi’s. Look! The straw stands up straight in the glass, they are so thick, and the veggie burgers were good also. Christina We know you like it here, Malika Beggar walks past the door and looks in Malika Aiyo, there she is, how many times have I, on my way to lunch, dashed past that miserable looking leper woman with all the bandages wrapped around her arms? After all this time, it continues to make me physically ill. Why do I have to see her? Why does she have to catch my eye, anyway? Why can’t she beg some place else?! The girls don’t listen. They giggle and compare choli pieces and new dupattas and just generally enjoy themselves, taking sips of each other’s different flavoured milkshake. Christiana Look at yours, Saroj, it looks like butterfly wings. Its sooo flashy! Malika What is she smiling about, anyway? Sarojini What is who smiling about? Malika Oh, that miserable old leper out there. Every Saturday she ruins my lunch. Christina What leper? I’ve never seen her. Malika Well, you have to trip over her on the way in! She’s always there! She must sleep there or something.” The conversation turned to more pleasant topics but Malika sat staring off into space. Christina Malika, what’s wrong with you today? Sarojini Oh, she’s thinking about that leper again. Listen Malika, my mother said that they have leper camps for all the lepers, but they prefer to beg. Christian It must be true, my mother told me the same thing Malika I know that, (sighed Malika.) It’s only that every week we look at each other, as if she were a - will – as if she were an individual person. Christian Well, she is person, isn’t she? Jesus healed the lepers, you know. Sarojini Maybe we should feed her. Malika Come on, be sensible; if we feed her once she’ll expect it every week. Christian So, how would that cost? We come shopping every week. We could certainly afford to feed your leper! Malika She’s not my leper! Christian (Jumping up from the table.) Well, I’m going to go and have a look at her. Malika Why would you want to look at the leper, Christian? You are a goose. But Christian had already left by the front door. She was back in a second. Christina Oh sure, I’ve seen her before. I just didn’t really notice. I think we should feed her, Malika – your leper! Malika Don’t say that! Christina I’m only teasing you! But before you knew it, Christina was talking to the manager and returning to the table. Christina See how easy? I told him to send her any old stale buns or rolls and leftover veggies from making the burgers, but not to tell that we sent it. Waiter comes and each girl pays her own luncheon bill of Rs 120 and added on another Rs.10. As they emerged from the restaurant, the old woman isn’t there. Scene Three Back again to the audience Member of the Audience You mean from just that one incident, you began FBH? Malika Well, not exactly. I am a devotee of Sri Sathya Sai Baba and whenever I have to make a major discion in my life, He gives me guidance usually in a dream. I was able to attend His schools but family have always been His close devotees. Members of the Audience Oh, one of those lucky few who get lots of attention and interviews, no doubt. Malika No no, not at all. Swami has million of devotees all over the world who don’t get His personal attention. We have never had a interview. Member of the Audience Tell us about the dream if you can. Malika Well, Swami was in His arm over the sleeve. He said, ‘Malika, I want you to start a food distribution center in Bangalore for the hungry’. Malika Me Swami!! Beloved Bhagavan, I wouldn’t know where to start. Swami You do not have to worry. God is the only doer. Malika And that was the end of the dream. Member of the Audience I think the bandage on His arms was significant in some way. Scene Four The scene takes places outside the restaurant on Brigade Road. There are looking across the street at Nilgiris. Christina There she is. They turned to look in the ally where the old woman is handing out buns and wilted veggies to a group of small street children all sitting neatly in rows. It really is quite of food and the children are eating hungrily while the old leper eats nothing at all. Sarojini Malik, that old begger wasn’t begging for herself at all. Christina (Looking across the street) I’ll bet Nilgiris throws out food everyday from their café and also any damaged goods. Sarojoni (Laughing) I was getting bored shopping every Saturday anyway. Malika I have a feeling we won’t be bored any more. Scene Five Back to the Rotary Club Audience Malika So Christina and Sarojini and I switched our college major from Fashion Design to Social Work. Sarajoni was married and started an NGO in Hydrabad, Feeding the hungry of Hydrabad. Our NGO here distributes hundred of lorries of food gathered in supermarkets, half picked fields of vegetable, fruit orchards as well as food packing companies. We hire only street people for the collection of food. Christina and I go to the hotels for the gourmet food which we take to nursing homes and old age homes for the elderly people who can’t chew and can’t eat spicy food. Christina And to the leper colonies. Malika (After a long pause) After I had taken the fruit of service from my wretched old leper, she disappeared and we never saw her again. Christina We never saw her again anywhere over the years and we have our own idea about who she really was. The two girls sing a song before ending the play: Serving When you’re serving the deserving You’re preserving your happy heart So, if we serve, we’ll observe Unhappiness depart Serve with love and serve with gladness Wipe away another’s sadness Selfless service is the key If we’re to save humanity 58 Good Old Amby Anup raced into the kitchen and poured himself a glass of milk when he got home from school. Anup Today’s the day, today’s the day! Oh Amma, had it come yet? Amma Has what come yet, Anup? Put the milk back in the fridge. Anup Has what come? Why the new car, of course. Daddy is buying a new car today. Amma I don’t see why you’re so excited about that. We’ve had new car before. Anup But that last one didn’t count. It was just another Ambassador. They all look the same and no one even knows you have a new car. Anma Is that the point, Anup? Are we buying a car so that people will know that we have one? Anup, age 12, bowed deeply to allow his 16 year old sister to sweep past. She grabbed an orange and started peeling it. Madhu Daddy’s bringing home a new car today and it might be an Esteem, right Mom? Amma He was pricing them. What’s the matter with getting another Ambassador. We’ve always had good luck with them. Madhu Oh Mon, they’re so boring. Anup And besides they’re ugly. Amma (Looked at her two modern kids and sighed). I’m really displeased with the two of you. Sit down Madhu, we really must have a talk about your values. Anup Oh Amma! Do we have to have a lecture today when our new car is coming? Madhu It isn’t always easy having a college lecturer for a mother. Amma Have the two of you ever heard of Mahatma Gandhi? Anup Oh Amma! Amma Well, have you? Madhu Of course, Amma, he was the father of our country. Anup Yes, Amma, he gave us freedom from our greed and oppressive desires. The principle of simple is the most valuable lesson that he taught us. That lesson defines India, Anup, it is the very core of our greatness. Madhu Why are you reminding us of the Mahatma, Amma? Amma Because it seems to me that this family is in danger of losing their heritage, our true Indian values. You know Uncle Deepak in the USA will not drive the same car two years in a row? He says he can afford it and wants to give a good impression. I’m sorry for uncle Deepak because he’s sold his birthright for a shiny new car. He studies Gandhian principle in school but look what happened. Simple living and a ceiling on our desires, as taught by our Swami, is the only way to be happy. And I am here to keep you children from forgetting that. India is the only country in the world that lives up to those values and it is because of Gandhi that wee produce a good economical car. Simple, to operate and repair and it looks the same year so that we won’t lose our values trying to keep up with the Jones. There was long honk outside. The family raced outside to find a dark shiny Ambassador at the curb. Anup’s lower lip trembled a little. Anup What happened to the Esteem, papa? Papa Your mother suggested that self-esteem was more important. Anup But I wanted to show the Kids at school. I told them that…. Madhu (Giggling) You mean you wanted to show off in front of your friends, right? I see your point, Amma, and I’m going to try to practice what we study in EHV class. Papa Well, lets take her for a spin, shall we? They dove out past the animal hospital and pulled up at a stop light. A man in a new sleek gold-coloured car rolled down his window. Man That’s a new Amby, isn’t it? I wish I’d listened to my better judgment. This new car was in the garage for six months waiting for parts to come from The US. You wouldn’t want to trade, would you? Every body laughed. Tis a Gift to be simple ‘Tis a gift to be simple ‘Tis a gift to be free ‘Tis a gift to come down where we want to be And when we find ourselves In a place just right It will be the valley of love and delight When true simplicity is gained To bow and to bend We won’t be ashamed To turn to turn will be our delight Til be turning, we come round right 59 How Now, Brown Cow? Group Three A small family which lived in the northern part of Andhra, in a village mean the border of Orissa. Nagendra, his wife, Parvati, and their children, were the first members of their families to ever own land. When Nagendra died, Parvathi was able to carry on farming her land with her half-grown sons and two small daughters. This was revolutionary. The family had their little spread of a few acres, and they even owned a cow.. Parvati My good brown cow has been raised like a daughter, and was the mainstay of her family has begun foraging for grass in the fields of the old Zamindar. Zamindar I will take that cow and lock her up. Babu, deliver a message to that widow, Parvati. That is my cow because she trespassed and destroyed my property. Parvati (Had managed well since her husband’s death and had tried to quietly please everyone.) I will have to fight the Zamindar. He cannot take our Kamadhenu. (The name of the divine life-giving cow of heaven). Parvati knew she must go to the headmen, even though she also knew that he was a friend of the Zamindar, but she had no other resource. What Parvathi didn’t know was that, under the new effort being made by the Central Government, there was now a one-third reservation for women in the Panchayati Raj Institution. Many headmen had their own wives voted in so that they would have another five year term in office. It was like that there here. Ramachadra Rao managed to have his wife elected ‘headman’, which she was in name only. Usually she didn’t even attend the meetings, but she was friends with the widow, Parvati. The petromax lantern swung slowly from the branch of the banyan tree, lighting from above the faces of the men sitting in a circle. Rao Anything else this evening? (stubbing out his beedie.) Man Don’t forget Parvati, Sir. Rao What …who is…? Oh …the cow….! Dressed in her white widow’s saree, Parvati stood at the edge of the light. Rao Now, the cow belongs to the Zamindar isn’t it? Who can dispute…? Through the shadows someone was moving resolutely to the clearing. A rather wide lady, saree tucked in her waist and red beetle nut in the corners of her mouth, moved into the light. She moved laboriously, swaying from side to side wiping her hands on her saree. She removed the saree end from her waist and draped it over her shoulders as she spat and squatted. Rao Eh? What brings the elected headman into our midst? The men looked uncomfortable and shifted their weight. Rao You are here, Amma, must be you have been reason. You want your place? You belong here, isn’t it? Yes, I am only sitting in for you. Mrs. Rao Oh well, Appa, it is good this way, so much of work I have … but …some person mentioned something about a cow of some sort belonging to …Ah, is it true? Parvati stood rigid behind her and then she too squatted. Rao Ha! It is about the cow, is it? Mrs. Rao Yes, seems so. Rao Not Parvati’s cow, the Zamindar’s cow now. Mrs. Rao No, God’s cow on loan to Parvati. Rao No, no, now she belongs to the Zamindar. Mrs. Rao Zamindar has forty cows, Parvati has only Kamadhenu. It is Parvati’s cow. Parvati has four babies. There was a silence. Rao You would like this seat, Amma? Happily I will give. Mrs. Rao No, no, Appa. You know everything. I am only woman of the house. Everyone knows that. Rao Then if I know everything, I know this is Zamindar’s cow. Mrs. Rao About this, you know nothing. This cow only ate a little grass nothing more. She was stolen. The men all shifted position again and lit fresh beedies. Ramachandra Rao looked furtively over his shoulder. Rao Harsh words, Amma. Mrs. Rao Truth is truth. Sri Sathya Sai Baba has the name of truth. All the men clapped their hands and bowed their heads for a moment. Rao Tell her to take the wretched cow, I will tell Zamindar. The heavy old lady rose unsteadily to her feet. Parvati helped her stand. Mrs. Rao Sorry to be so much trouble, (murmured the headman’s wife.) Rao No, no, this is your rightful seat, Amma. Mrs. Rao Carry on (The two woman disappeared from the circle.) Rao Ayo Papam, (muttered Ramachandra Rao under his breath and he spat out the red juice). Your word How good is your word, what does it mean Is it of any value, does it have esteem When you give your word Is it given for keeps Or are your words worthless Not worth a heap Can we trust your word Or do you soon forget If it’s not convenient, will you go back on it It really is important, to do just what you say And never ever break your word At all, in any way. 60 An Allegorical Play Purity, Patience and Perseverance Group Two Scene One The state is set in the woods. There is a small house stage right and a river stage left. Narrator There was once a very nice family who lived deep in the forest. The father was a wood cutter and they had thee lovely daughters, named Purity, Patience and Perseverance. Mother Dear ones, Mother will bake you a nice blackberry pie if you will go into the woods to pick the berries. Miss Purity Oh yes, mother, we will happily go into the woods to pick the berries. Won’t we, sisters? Miss Perseverance We love blackberry pie, mother Mother Here, my sweet ones. I will give you some bread and butter to eat for your lunch. Miss Patience Good bye Mother, and thank you for the nice lunch. I’m sure we will be back very soon. Sisters Yes, good bye. Good bye. Mother (Waving and wiping tears from her eyes.) Dear Lord Sai Baba, please care for our girls for that bread and butter was the last food we have in the hose. Oh Dear, Sai Baba, also please find good husbands for our sweet girls. Narrator Deeper and deeper into the forest they went picking the blackberries as they walked. When it began to grow dark, they turned around to return home and found that they had become lost. Scene Two Miss Purity Oh no! It has become quite dark and now we are lost also. Narrator They became afraid of the forest sounds and huddled together as they sat on a log. Miss Perseverance I’m still a bit hungry, sisters. Perhaps we can eat the berries as well. Miss Purity Oh Oh Sisters, look over there. I see a small light through the trees. Let’s hurry and cross that river as there is a boat. Scene Three The same woods but now the river is stage right and the goblin’s house is stage left. Narrator They crossed the river and when they got there, it was a small cabin with very odd furniture inside. Miss Patience Oh, our beloved Swami must have brought us to this place. I’m so very tired. But first let us taste these delicious strawberries. Miss Purity Yes, let us take rest. Narrator They went in for refuge and then curled up in the corner of the room and went to sleep. (clock strikes twelve). About midnight, they heard a great thud. The owner of the cabin had come home and he was a goblin!! Globby Goblin Ho, ho! Here is my super. How nice that three lovely girls have come to feed me. I shall eat all three but first let me rest from my travels. Narrator and he tied them up with sturdy ropes. Miss Patience The Goblin is fast asleep. Sisters. I will untie these ropes if it takes the rest of the night. Narrator She worked and worked and worked on the knots and finally she was free. Then she quickly freed her sisters and quietly opening the door, they managed to creep away. By this time it was morning. They raced for the river because there was a little boat there. They reached the river, and they saw the goblin running as his fat little globby legs would let him. Globby Oh nuts! I can’t swim. Please come back bad, little girls. I haven’t had my breakfast! Scene Four The same woods but now the river is stage left and there is a palace stage right. Narrator The girls left the river and followed the path to the palace of the king. There, they found the king, his ministers and three sons standing outside, waiting. They told their story to the king and his three princes Discipline, Discrimination and Duty. King Oh that goblin!! He has stolen important things from our kingdom and they must be returned. He has taken beauty, wealth and auspiciousness or good luck and tied them up in ropes in his cellar. Please, since you sisters know the way through this forest, the forest of sensual pleasure, could you somehow persuade the goblin to return our treasures? Miss Perseverance We will try, your highness. Song: Love All (Jingle Bells) Love all, serve all, that is the way To bring a ray of sunshine Into your happy day Love all, serve all, you can do it too You’ll find a lot of sunshine Coming back to you. Scene Five Now the river is again on stage right and the goblins house, stage left. Narrator The girls went back in to the forest called, “Sensual Pleasure’’. They looked in the window and saw that the demon was asleep So miss patience who knew how to untie his knots, crept inside and down into the river. The girls put the tall elegant Miss beauty into the boat and then, just in time they jumped in and pushed off leaving behind the goblin who was very angry. Scene Six The palace King (Crying happily) Oh, you have brought back our precious beauty to the kingdom. I will give Miss patience to my son, Master Discipline as a wife if she consents. Miss Purity But your majesty, they worship different gods. King Doesn’t matter, Sri Sathya Sai Baba my guru, guide and guardian, says that there is only one god and He is omnipresent. Narrator The courtiers summoned the parents of the sisters and the wedding lasted one full day. After the wedding, the king spoke to the two remaining girls and their parents.. King As you can see, this is a very poor Kingdom for that goblin has stolen wealth from us. Could one of you possibly return to the goblin and bring back our wealth? Miss Purity We will certainly try, your Highness, for we have the guidance and protection of our Lord, Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Scene Seven The house of the goblin Narrator Again the goblin was sound asleep as they tiptoed down to the cellar to release wealth, Then they all ran pell mell for the boat on the river with globbly goblin right behind. The goblin was very very angry because he was attached to wealth. Anger is our enemy It’s number one never makes us feel good And it’s never any fun Anger makes us say dumb things Anger, what hassles it can bring Anger isn’t necessary And it’s hurtful to Anger just brings problems For me and for you Anger, I think I’ll say So long to you I won’t use anger at all today So anger, please go away I will chose a kinder way Hurtful words I will not say. Scene Eight Palace Everyone cheers and shouts and sings King I am overjoyed by your service. Though I know you couldn’t have done such a thing without our Sai Baba, still it took a great deal of courage. I would like to have you, Miss Purity wed my son, Mr. Duty if it is alright with you and your parents. Miss Purity But sir, we are of different castes King Doesn’t matter, Didn’t you know? Sri Sathya Sai Baba, our mother, father and closest friend, says that there is only one caste, the caste of humanity. Narrator They had a lavish wedding which lasted a full week and everyone was happy. But the king was still not satisfied. King I’m afraid that if I do not have auspiciousness, I will not have good luck and could loose the beauty and wealth of my kingdom again. Could you possibly go and rescue the last of our treasures, Miss. Perseverance? Miss Perseverance I will go happily, for why should I fear when Sai Baba is forever near. Song: I am a Little scared (I see God) Sometimes I feel a little scared And I want to run away But if I plan and take a stand I’m strong and brave today Scene Nine Back to globby goblin’s house. Narrator When she arrived, the demon was throwing a tantrum and breaking everything he could find. She quietly waited until his anger was spent and he was asleep before tiptoeing in to release good luck or auspiciousness. When they were almost to the river, the goblin caught up with them, destroyed the boat and tried to grab Miss. Perseverance and auspiciousness Glooby (screaming) Now you can’t get away from me. Miss Perseverance (Quietly) Oh yes I can Narrator And she took the hand of lady auspiciousness and simply walked across the river leaving the goblin fussing and fuming on the shore. Scene Ten The Palace Narrator They returned to the palace where the king asked her to please marry his son, Master Discrimination. Miss Perseverance But your majesty, how can you marry? We are of different religious. King Doesn’t matter as long as you are a good member of your religion. Besides you should know that Sri Sathya Sai Baba, our creator, sustainer and transformer of the universe, says there is only one religion and that is the religion of the love. Narrator And everyone in the kingdom lived happily ever after except the globby old goblin who because of his bad thoughts, words and deeds was miserable as usual… until, late in life he finally discovered the love of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Only one There is only one religion The religion of love, the religion of love There may be many names, but they are all the same Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist Islam, Parsee, Shinto, Toaist, Red Indian, Sikh and Jain There is only one God And he is omnipresent, and he is omnipresent There is only one, He may be worshipped as the sun Or as Allah, Brahma, Vishnu and Iswara There have been many incarnations Of the eternal God, all embodiments of God Throughout history, they’ve come in mystery Rama, Krishna, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Nanak Laotze, Buddha, Zoroaster and Mahavira Sathya Sai now walks among is Great hope of all mankind, bright light of any time Defender of each path, exchanging love from wrath Love is His form Truth is His breath Bliss is His food, Expansion is His life His life is the message of Love 61 Monkeys Western Story - EHV approx. ages 4-5 Little Anup and his mother and father went in the car to visit his Mother’s brother on his farm in his country. They were invited inside the large spacious farmhouse by Uncle Kumara and given tea and paisam (a sweet pudding) by Aunty. Then the adults talked and talked and talked. They talked about their lives and about all the relatives and children. At first step Anup laid down on the couch with his head in mummy’s lap but then he woke up and wanted to go outside and play. “Oh no, Anup, I don’t think so,” said Daddy. “Why not,” protested Uncle kumara. “This is the most peaceful and safest place on earth. Just let they child play in the garden. He can’t possibly get into trouble. In fact, I wanted to tell you about the farm next door. It needs a little fixing up but it would be wonderful for week-ends,” “Ok, darling but be careful!” said Mummy. “Ok, Mummy”, said Anup and off he went, skipping down the front walk. He found the garden and the huge mango tree full of wonderful ripe sweet mangos. “Oh mangos,” he cried, jumping at the lower branches unsuccessfully. So he sat down under the tree and sulked. “I wish I had a sweet mango to eat!” Suddenly a mango fell into his lap… plop! When he looked up, Anup saw a whole tribe of monkeys sitting around the branches of the tree. Anup was so pleased to have the mango he didn’t even think about the monkeys. He bit off a piece of skin and began squeezing the pulp into his mouth as well as all over his shits, pants, arms and hair. He didn’t care because he loved mangoes so much. The monkey seemed to be laughing with glee at the small boy and soon they were all enjoying mangos, sitting in a circle around Anup. When they were finished they licked their fingers and brushed off their coats. Anup did the same. After they were a bit cleaner they all made for the paddy fields for a clean up. Anup did the same. They formed a line biggest monkey first and …..Anup last. The monkeys swaggered as they walked along, full of mango and joy. Anup did the same! They reached the edge of the paddy field and walked carefully along the bunt. Well Anup tried to do the same but he fell off into the water. Fortunely the water wasn’t deep but the monkeys scampered out of sight! Anup crawled through the mud and slush and started back to uncle’s farmhouse. “Anup, Anup! Where are you, dear,” cried his mother. Then she saw him hobbling up the garden path, covered with mud, his hair full of mango pulp. “Oh my: Lord! Anup, Anup, are you all right?” And even with all the mud and mango, she picked him up and hugged him. “How did you do this, precious,” she asked. “Monkeys, Mummy,” was all he said. Monkeys* Oh I am just a monkey as you can plainly see. I love to play all the day Come and see, play with me And if you’d care to join me All you have to say is … Monkey see, monkey do, Monkey laugh, you do too Life’s a joke, life’s a game But the joke’s on you I climb fast, I climb high I will take you to the sky Don’t look down. Don’t look back, don’t ask why And if you get into trouble Oh please don’t look for me ‘Cause if there’s any trouble I’ll vanish like a bubble I’ll race you on the double But you can’t catch me Why do you do as monkeys do? It’s better to be you. *This song is really about not taking drugs. 61 The Wrong Tree My Friend from Bangalore told me this story about her little brother. It was early morning on Rest House Road in Bangalore City. A procession of Tempo vans slowly pulled up and stopped to park on the lovely tree- shaded street. A couple got out; the man was wearing dark glasses and a safari suit, which fitted snugly across his round tummy. They stood by one of the vans and spoke in low tones to the groups of men who were carrying choppers, axes and saws. Soon the hacking and sawing, the chopping and the thumping made by the felling of the beautiful trees filled the air with sad sounds. Silver, brown, green and golden leaves showered down as the trees seem to tremble in fright. Small groups of passers by stopped, horrified at the ugly sight. The people who lived in the neighborhood, stared out o their windows. Suddenly, a small boy, my friend’s brother, came running from one of the residences, his face contorted in sheer anguish. “No, no, stop! Stop please, you’re killing our trees. He ran up to the couple in charge. “Please Sir, why are you killing our trees? All the people in the neighborhood and planted these trees. There were 2,000 trees altogether and they had cared for every one of them as if they were children. “Get away! Get away,” the man in the dark glasses muttered. The menacing man threw a small stump at the boy, causing him to dodge and run across the street. He obviously couldn’t understand at all. “Ravi, get into the house this very instant,” a woman’s frightened voice called. “But Mummy……” “This instant!” The small boy disappeared into the house. After about eighty of the beautiful trees were felled, the couple looked at each other. He checked his watch. “Okay, enough,” he said, and clapped his hands as if it were a pre-arranged signal. The laborers worked quickly, obviously they had done this type of crime many times before. They dragged the trunks to the vans and pitched them in along with their weapons of destruction. In a flash they were gone, leaving hacked-off stumps, broken branches and dead leaves behind where, not an hour ago, stood the lacy grove of kindly trees. But destiny played an important hand in this drama and the killers of Mother Earth’s bounty will never repeat their offence. A Karnataka high court judge just happened to live on that street. This man, who unfortunately was out of town when the crime occurred, had planted some of the destroyed trees tenderly and with a lot of love. When he arrived home to find the holocaust, he was very upset. He lodged a cmplaint with the Depute Conservator of Forests, and urged the Forest Department to treat the cutting down of each and every tree as a separate case, and to institute a separate prosecution for each offence. The villains were clearly barking up the wrong tree this time! The Tree I am a mighty tree, very tall I stand Near and far, I can see The forest of this land Circles in circles I grow one every year The big ones are outside, outside And the small ones Are in here in here And the small ones are in here. This song was originally written for the quiet sitting portion of class. Children are asked to get in touch with the small and small circles within themselves. 62 True Story Peace Pilgrim Have you ever heard of the lady they called “Peace Pilgrim? It seems that about ten year ago in the USA, there was a woman who walked form one end of the country to the other and back again, carrying a sign, which said “Peace”. Winter, summer, hot weather or cold, she walked. Sometimes she slept in snow banks, sometimes in a garage or storeroom. We imagine that she was in danger every moment from ‘drive by shootings’ or random acts of violence, because they are common in the west. All by herself, however, she carried forth her message of peace. Well, she became a teacher by example only, as she was usually silent. Books and articles have been written about her, and she was interviewed and adored by many. Even here in India, I have heard her name said with reverence. Would it surprise you to know that here in India there is also a “Peace Pilgrim?” Possibly it would because the man receives no recognition to speak of. We just came across a small articles on the back pages of he news paper the other day. His name is, Aboobacker Siddique, and the rode his bicycle from Orissa, his native place, across Bihar and UP, even crossing over into Bangladesh and Bruma. Now he is in Kerala, which is where the writer of the article in this paper found him. Twice he was nabbed by ultras, once in Manipur and once in Nagaland, where they swooped down on him and frisked him thoroughly. All they could find was his little sign, which says “Pray for Peace”, just like the sign carried by the famous lady in America. The ultras in Manipur ended up fixing the punctured tire on his beaten-up Hero bike, and they also gave him fixing the punctured tire on his beaten-up old Hero bike, and they also gave him Rs.500 to help him on his way. Since1991, he had logged the message of universal brotherhood and harmony, and he’s 76 years old, if you can believe it? He is more convinced then ever that, ‘the purpose of my mission is to spread peace and harmony and love to all I meet.” In 1994, he flew to Iran with his trusty old bike. From there, he pedaled across Iraq, Turkey, Strife-torn Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia. He rode 100 km a day, logging in 35,000, never failing to do his Namez. He visited the holy city of Mecca before returning homeward. The man and his machine are inseparable. “I hope nobody whacks it when I’m not looking,” he laughs. “But sir,” we wondered, “where are your biographers, your movie rights, the TV crews? Oh I see, you’re only one small Indian gentleman as you pedal across the glorious soild of Mother India. Don’t worry, Sir, Mother India knows and she is proud of every one of her precious children.” Dona Nobis Pacem Do-na no-bis pacem pacem Do-na no-bis pacem.* Do-na no-bis pacem pacem Do-na no-bis pacem.* Do-na no-bis pa-cem pacem Do-na no-bis pacem. The Latin words of this 16th century song mean ‘Give Us peace.’ ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’ is pronounced ‘Do-nah No-beesce Pah-chem’. This song is very effective when sung in a three-part round. Singers enter at asterisks (*). 63 Homemade Cookies Anna and Phoebe were on the school bus going home. Phoebe was five years older than Anna but they lived next door to each other. Anna hadn’t finished eating the cookies her mother had packed in her brown bag lunch so the girls were munching away and talking. “Gee, these are great cookies, Anna, they taste home made.” “They are, I made them myself.” “Gee, I’d like to know how to make them.” “You would? Well, I’ll show you something.” Anna looked out the window and thought, ‘I did it again. I didn’t make these cookies, Mom did. Why do I tell fibs like that? It’s soo stupid! They just pop our before I can think. In EHV they say we should think before we speak, Ha!’ “I’ve eaten so many, Phoebe, here the rest are yours.” “No way, that’ll make me an old maid.” “You’re gonna be one anyway, so why worry,” Sneered Peter from the front seat. “Hey listen you little twerp,” murmured Phoebe, “You were gonna get the rest of these cookies and now we’ll throw them out the window before we give them to you. Anna made them with her own little hands too!” Anna slid down in her seat. “I’ll take the rest home.” The bus stopped and Anna’s mother was there on the sidewalk. She looked in the window and saw the cookies being put away. “Didn’t you like the cookies, Anna? I made them from a receipt from ‘Ladies Home Journal’ Anna was stunned. “But I helped you Mom, don’t you remember?” By this time the girls were out of the bus and on the sidewalk. “She’s been bragging on her cookies all day saying she said she made them with her own little hands!” sneered Peter from the bus. “I didn’t say that and you know it, Peter White!” “Liar, liar, your pants are on fire!” “Phoebe honey, change out of that dress and come down and have a snack with me Ok?” suggested Mom. Changing into her jeans and T-shirt, Anna slid into a breakfast nook in the kitchen as Mom was opening a Pepsi for her and fixing coffee for herself. Anna stared at the brightly painted yellow walls and the red and white curtains blowing cheerfully at the window. She wasn’t feeling very cheerful. “How come you lied about the cookies, Anna. Such a silly little lie.” “Maybe it was just a fib? Oh I don’t know, Mom, I’ve been saying stuff like that pretty often lately. I just don’t think before I speak, like you’re suppose to. But it’s not so important, is it … just fibs?” ‘Lies or fibs, neither one is the truth, is it? A lie is an lie no matter what. You know what will happen? People will doubt your word. They’ll say, ‘Oh Anna lies.’ Even if you tell one lie, that’s what might happen. People won’t believe you any more.” “I know, like the story about the little boy cried ‘wolf too many times. “Exactly. But I wonder why you make things up. You like school, don’t you?” “It’s ok,” “Are you stressed out or something? Maybe we should talk more, Anna do you worry?” “A little… about Daddy.” “Well hey, that’s for sure. We all worry about Daddy. I worry every time he goes out of the house. Tell you what we’ll do. We’ll talk like this every afternoon after school just to check in with each other. An maybe I’ll teach you how to make cookies and other stuff too. I make a mean spaghetti sauce.” “Oh yeah! I’d really really really like that, Mom.” That does Love Mean? Love means that I’m very kind I never say anything cruel or mean. I don’t care if your skin is dark or light Or anything in between I don’t care which god you worship Or the country from which you came I am your friend and you are mine ‘Cause you and I are the same. 64 A Small White Cap Ganesha Chaturthi festival is the celebration of the elephant-headed son of Lord Shiva. On Chaturthi, a date according to the lunar calendar, His image, made of clay, is worshipped in many temporary shrines all over India and throughout the world. Every day, puja is offered to the deity, consisting of KumKum, incense, flower garlands, etc, and every day the heap of auspicious offerings grows, until after three or nine days, He is taken in procession to the nearest lake or river or tank. There, by immersion, He is sent to heaven as everyone shouts for Him to come back again next year. We Hindus do not really leave Him alone after that, because every new beginning throughout the year must begin with a prayer for His blessing. He is the most popular of all the forms of God for the Hindus. Only three days after the festival, a group of boys from our neighborhood in Ulsoor (which is in Bangalore), took their giant Ganesha, on a make-shift trolley, to the lake for immersion. My mother and I were staying at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram on the lake temporarily until Swami came back to Brindavan and we had a view of the procession. Some of the boys looked quite young and perhaps it was their first experience. They pushed the large pink elephant-headed figure of Lord Ganesha along the street that crossed near the mosque. They didn’t need to go that way but I suppose it added an extra thrill for them to court trouble. I could see from my view that there was a small group of boys wearing round white caps, tensely waiting in the stairwell of an old building nearby. As the procession passed by, somehow they didn’t throw the stones, which they held. In fact, still holding them in their hands, the small boys, including one little fellow named Ahmed, quietly crept behind the procession at a safe distance. As they tip-toed along, Ameer and Ahmed were looking very scared. “Ahmed,” said Ameer, “your hand is empty. If you have no stone, how will you defend the mosque?” “My mother said this morning that she had a bad feeling in her heart. I promised her to try to sew seeds of reconciliation, I cannot carry a stone.” When the boys reached the lake and tipped Lord Ganesha, He fell off at an angle. The boys dragged Him further into the lake, when suddenly it became very deep. The boys struggled, spurting like dying candles before they sank. Ahmed, aged twelve, was evidently a pretty good friend with several of the Hindu boys who had participated in the procession. “Hey, that’s Raju,” he called as he raced for the lake. He was a good swimmer and, one by one, he pulled the boys up and to safety, even joking. “Maybe your Ganesha sitting at the bottom handed you up!” Somehow he still wore his white cap. But one boy was still missing. “Okay, I’ll find him,” shouted Ahmed. He disappeared under the dark waters never to return. Only a small white skullcap remained, bobbing on the waves. Well, at the present time in that same neighbourhood they celebrate the immersion of Lord Ganesha on the fifth day or even the ninth day after Chaturthi and they take a route which honours the sensitivities of all the communities along the way. They time the procession that way because we have something very important to do on the anniversary of the tragedy. I always attend on that third day, when a small white cap is floated on the waves of the lake. All the children, their mothers and fathers, and even the religious leaders from both communities join hands and pray silently for communal harmony as they float flower garlands upon the lake waters, as a tribute to little Ahmed. I guess you could say that the small cap has become a symbol of religious tolerance. B is for Brotherhood B is for Brotherhood Each one is our brother Because of the Soul There isn’t another For God is our father We’re rally the same The only thing different Is in form and our name We’re sisters and brothers Like leaves of a tree And, the Lord, the truck Is Divinity So, don’t allow prejudice To remain in your mind See God in all And revere All Mankind. 65 Christmas Eve It seems that every year in Bangalore the wives of wealthy industrialist get together for a charity ball. Christmas Eve, the night of the great extravaganza finally arrived, and backstage all the executive’s wives were bustling around in their chiffons and extremely short velvet mini dresses. After a parade of gaudy, tacky ‘little nothing’ dresses worn by sweet young things, Mrs. Krishnamurthi appeared in the spotlight and everyone gasped. She was wearing a simple Madurai handloom saree. You could have heard a pin drop as she slowly took the mike and walked with confidence and dignity down the catwalk. “Why are you surprised, haven’t you ever seen a saree before?” she finally said, and everyone giggled a little and applauded. “I chose to wear a saree because I wanted to look my best. Everyone knows that a woman looks prettier in a saree than anything else she could wear. It’s quite graceful and elegant, don’t you think?” and she did a little turn as the models do. There was more applause. “They’re not allowing ladies dressed in sarees into the clubs in Mumbai. The saree is our national dress. What does that say about respect for our motherland for our motherland and our culture?’’ “Pretty and graceful and it’s also useful. If the sun is too bright or it sprinkles rain you can- voila!” and she covered her head with her pallu. “My mother used to tie raisins and nuts in one corner for us children when we went to the park. Remember those days, and when we were pregnant and nursing? But I wear them now because they’re beautiful and becoming.” “You know, I don’t want to turn the clock backward. We’re all for progress, but must we sacrifice the good parts of our culture? The world is bringing itself to our doorstep anyway, so we can just be ourselves, isn’t it? I really think that the world would like us to keep our ‘Indian-ness’. In fact, I think they rather like it. I do. I love my culture, our music, customs, language, and values. Sometimes, while watching TV which comes from the west from the west, I think we’re the only one with any value left. My daughter likes rock and roll, but she also plays veena. I like that. She paused for a moment, looking around at the gathering. “Thank you for letting me say what’s in my heart tonight.” As she turned to walk away everyone was on their feet shouting. “Yes, yes” and calling her name. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as cocktails were spilt over little black nothing dresses and crochet handkerchiefs fluttered to wipe the running mascara from teat-stained faces. Mr. Radhakrishnan proudly advanced and folded her arm in his. Tie a Gift to be Simple Tis a gift to be simple, ‘tis a gift to be free, ‘tis a gift to come down where we want to be. And when we find ourselves in the place just right, It will be in the valley of love and delight When true simplicity is gained, To bow and to bend we won’t be ashamed. To turn, to turn will be our delight, Til by turning, turning we come ‘round right. 66 Dalit Genius True Story “You’re from India, aren’t you?” I asked the slim, dark-skinned young man sitting across from me in the student canteen. “Yes….That’s correct”. “And now you’re here at the University of Indiana.” He smiled. “No connection. I chose this university because it had the graduate curriculum I wanted.” “And that is ….?” “Banking.” “Oh, I see, banking! Why, I’ll bet your Daddy is great big banker in India!” “He’s a sweeper at the railway station in Bombay,” the boy said, laughing. I liked the way his eyes lit up his face. “We’re Dalits. Some people call us ‘untouchables’, but we are not!” “Well, I’ll say. That’s pretty bad! My Daddy is a janitor in Oklahama and some people call us ‘white trash’. But we’re not either!” And that was how I met Vilas,! I knew that I would give him my life from the first, and just what I’ve done. In fact, we married and returned to India and that was the end of everything I’d ever known. One of his friends asked him why he was going back when he had everything going for him in the USA. He said, “The question is not why I’m going back. The question is, why you are not!” My husband is a super-patriot, even though it was ever easy growing up as a harijan. Harijan is what Gandhi called them. It means ‘children of God’, but most Dalits don’t like the term because there have been too many broken promises made under that banner.” I could talk for a week about Vilas. He’s brilliant to begin with and talented and determined to help his people –our people now. His father had to go through so much even to get his children in school. He later wrote a book about it, which has won many prizes. He seemed to strike a chord among all castes and classes because of its universal theme. His father spent his life as a sweeper, but, you know he must be just as brilliant as my husband. My husband got his doctorate in 1986. Along the way, he was given an award in the USA for best international student of the year. In 1984, after he met me, he earned a 3.94 grade point average out of possible 4.0. This score has yet to be beaten by anyone! Five days after receiving that PhD, we were stepping off the plane in Bombay.” When we first got back, Vilas got out all of his father’s old tattered notebooks. There were twelve, chronicling his family and coming to terms with the caste system. Originally, the family was landless and agricultural workers. I guess the notebooks were sort of coarse and crude, with no paragraph or chapters, but they were very beautiful and my husband put them into a proper book form. It became an instant hit, and my husband read it aloud on Air India Radio and also in TV. It was a great tool for the Dalit movement.” Now my husband writes books about his own generation of Dalits and the negative and positive changes that have taken place. I read the other day that the ONA researchers haven’t been able to find any differences in intellect of the members of different castes. The brilliant Indians were always making the best marks at the universities in the States. But the sweepers and coolies, and even street urchins, could be just as brilliant if their mothers received good nutrition during pregnancy and they had a chance for and education. I personally feel that the educated Dalits have the intensity had desperation for a better life, and that they will be the ones to bring India out of the doldrums and make her the world leader of the 21st century. I’m sorry if I sound like a social activist, it’s just that my husband feels so strongly about this and I have to listen to him all the time. Vilas is a Senior Officer with the Reserve Bank of India, and write books. He’s trying to educate all the members of his family. Besides, we contribute to the ‘Republican Party’ I laughed when I heard the name, because my Mama would kill me if I ever voted Republican back home. Here, in India, it is the new party of the Dalits and it’s strong and powerful. We’re Buddhists, and that is a religion I always felt drawn to, even in the States. Lord Buddha was known as the Lord of Compassion and Buddhists do not recognise the caste system. I know that I keep saying ‘we Dalits’ but you see, foreigners are considered ‘untouchables’, which makes me a Dalit. Besides, all countries are only rooms in God’s mansion and humanity is one caste. What happens to the harijans here affects, in some way, what happens to the blacks in Harlem too. I really believe that it’s the world consciousness which has to change. Lokaa Samasta sukino Bhavantu Lokka Samasta Sukino Bhavantu This is a prayer for world peace. Translation: Let all beings in all the worlds be happy 67 Dhobbi’s Boy My friend, Vjaya, from Bangalore told me about her brother. Their father was a dhobbi in Belatur. The dhobbi, Keshava, his wife, Eswara, and their two children lived in the hut down by the river. The children were Jaya, a boy of eight, and Vjaya, and a girl of six. Keshava was a very good dhobbi and his customer had no complaints, even though it was well known that he had a…drinking problem. At those frequent times, Eswara and her children had to do all of the work. When papa was ‘indisposed’, Jaya left the shack each morning with his mother at 4.00am to wash the clothes in the cold, black river. It was so early that they could just barely see the stains in the clothes. But they managed somehow, and they never lost a customer. In fact, their foreign customers were a fiercely loyal bunch who paid the fees for both kids to go to school, as well as for the uniforms and books, etc. At 8.30 am, after four hours of work, Jaya boarded the crowded bus for Whitefield so that he could go to St Theresa’s Convent school because she wanted to be close to home. Eswara would do the pressing and she and little Vjaya delivered the nice, warm, clean clothes in the afternoon. One day, when Jaya was in tenth standard, the Head Mistress came and took Jaya out of class. “Your mother needs you now, Jaya, it seems that your father was killed crossing the road this morning.” Jaya, it rushed home immediately to find his mother and sister weeping That evening, he lit the funeral bier and Keshava was cremated down by the very river, which had provided his livelihood. Jaya felt that he must become the breadwinner now and that it was necessary to drop out of school. Fortunately, while at school he had attended a course in TV repairs and was now able to get a TV repair job. One day, he saw his former Head Mistress on the street in Whitefield and he stopped to talk to her. She asked after his family and praised his good habits. “Yes, sister, I’ve been promoted to the position of manager of the TV repair shop and so we are all doing well.” The elderly nun looked at the bright young boy. You are such a fine person. What was it that made you turn out so well?” Jaya smiled. “Must be self-confidence,” he said. “You see, my father always said that I could do anything, if I tried my best and had faith in myself. One day, when Jaya was in tenth standard, the Head Mistress came and took Jaya out of class. “Your mother needs you now, Jaya, it seems that your father was killed crossing the road this morning,” Jaya rushed home immediately to find his mother and sister weeping That evening, he lit the funeral bier and Keshava was cremated down by the very river, which had provided his livelihood. Jaya felt that he must become the breadwinner now and that it was necessary to drop out of school. Fortunately, while at school he had attended a course in TV repairs and was now able to get a TV repair job. One day, he saw his former Head Mistress on the street in Whitefield and he stopped to talk to her. She asked after his family and praised his good habits. “Yes Sister, I’ve been promoted to the position of manager of the TV repair shop and so we are all doing well.” The elderly nun looked at the bright young boy. You are such a fine person. What was it that made you turn out so well?” Jaya smiled. “Must be self-confidence,” he said. “You see, my father always said that I could do anything, if I tried my best. He taught me to have faith in myself. ‘He was a good father in many in many ways, Sister” If You Think You’re Beaten If you think you’re beaten you are If you think you dare not, you don’t If you’d like to win but you think that you can’t It is almost for certain that you won’t If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost For out in the world you will find Success begins with fellows’ will It’s all in the state of mind If you think you’re out-classed, you are You’ve got to think high to rise You’ve got to be sure of yourself Before you can ever really win a prize Life’s battles don’t always go To the stronger or fastest one But sooner or later the one who wins Is the one who thinks he can. 68 Extra, Extra-Tribals get Patent P K Surendran The Times of India Bangalore 25 February 1997 Thiruvananthapuram: In the first instance in the country of the Tribals getting Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), the Kani tribe of the Agastyar hills of South Kerala, have been given Rs.5 lakh for the anti-fatigue drug being made of the local herb, Trichopus Zeylannicus. The herb, known for its stamina-giving properties, was first detected by the Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute (TBGRI), the premier herbal research institution, in 1987. The TBGRI scientists espied, during a trek, the Kani tribals munching leaves of this herb to prevent fatigue “Ashoke, what are those tribal fellows eating?” “Don’t know, Ahmed, I myself noticed them munching on some kind of leaf. Shall we find out?” “Hey there, wait a moment, my friend, don’t go so fast. We were wondering what it is that you fellows are eating. Must be some kind of herb, am I right?” “Yes sir, this is the herb which enables us to walk very fast up and down these mountains.” “Is that true? Well, in that case why don’t you let us try a little of it now. Oh my, this herb seems to be very nice. I can feel the energy all ready. Here, you try a bit Ashok.” “I also feel some energy from the herb. Let’s have a race up the hill, Ahmed.” “Wait until I can eat a few more of those leaves they’re quite good. Yes I can feel the energy even now. Let’s ask the tribals for some samples of this herb. We’ll take it back to the Institute.” After the discovery this herb, the Institute undertook research into the qualities of the herb and found it could prove to be an Indian Ginseng with a superior feature of being non-steroidal, noted TBGRI Director, P. Pushpangadan, The Institute declared that it would yield to the tribals part of the proceeds, when a drug based on the herb was commercially produced, as they are the source of the knowledge. They were notified immediately. “Since you were the tribals who gave us the herb first, Krishna, we will let you and your group cultivate it to begin with. Good Luck. I think we may have a very excellent drug here.” The Institute has now secured Rs 10 lack from the Arya Vaidya Pharmacy, Combatore, the first licensee for commercial production of the drug for seven years. The Institute has set apart Rs.5 lakh to the tribals. The money is being routed to the tribals for further herbal cultivation through a tribal trust created for this purpose. Besides, half of the 2 percent annual royalty of the sale of the drug, titled ‘Jeevani’, will also go to the tribal trust. Presently, only some thirty families are growing the herb. But there is scope for some 5,000 families gaining permanent livelihood by its cultivation in at least 3,000 acres. This information appeared in the newspapers five years ago and we know that know it is possible to purchase Jeevani over the counter of most pharmacies. It is a good drug to take to increase stamina and wipe out tiredness. We do not know whether or not there are 5.000 families making a living growing the herb or not. The Earth is Our Mother Hey yung-a yo, yung-a hey yung yung Hey yung-a yo, yung-a hey yung yung The earth is our mother We must take care of her The earth is our mother We must take care of her Her sacred ground we walk upon With every step we take Her sacred ground we walk upon With every step we take Repeat entire song, ending with “Hey Yunga” section. Harmony 69 Family Plot The family Zambia owed a small plot halfway up the mountain. Every morning mama and her small daughter carried water to the plot for the okra and the eggplant bushes which they had planed 2 months earlier. They didn’t mind because it was their own land, free and clear, inherited from her father’s father. “Someday I mean to build a small hut on this land after you children have grownup and are on your own.” She said this same thing every morning. “Yes Mama, I know,” The postman stopped them before they started up the long steep path. He was a nosy fellow. “Morning Mrs. Mangassi. Looks like we might have a little rain today,” Mama suggested “No, I’m afraid not. There’s not a cloud in the sky this morning.” “Yes sir, over there, see?” “Oh yes, then we will hope for the best. When you going to put this girl in school, Mrs. Mangassi?” “Girl is needed at home sir.” “But if she was educated she would be able to help even more.” “No, she wouldn’t be able to carry this water every day myself.. I’m getting old too.” “What about your next youngest? He’s a boy so he could carry the water better.” “Maybe next year,” “Yes, that’s a good plan. Girl could start school next year and boy could carry the water,” suggested the postman, happily. “The boy will have to support family some day and the girl will have a husband to support her.” The girl looked down at her feet, humming a little tune. The postman signed. “That was what they all said,” he thought. “But Mrs. Mangassi, everyone should have a chance at an education, girls and boys. Everyone should have a chance at an education, girls and boys. Everyone should have a chance at happiness.” “Yes sir, I’m sure you’re right. Thank you for your concern and I will discuss this with my husband. Come on girls.” They started the long treck and the small girl looked back and waved at the postman. She loved to climb up here and see the surrounding countryside. I was a warm sunshiny day and the smell of the soft rich earth filled her nostrils. A black bird hopped from one branch to another complaining about the noise and fragile butterflies flew around her face and head. She giggled and climbed with a light step. Find Contentment (Beautiful Dreamer) Doing as you please, That isn’t happiness Just find contentment, Forget all the rest Liking what you have to do. That brings contentment And that is the best The happy man Is the one we admire He is the one with the fewest desires Doing as you please, Isn’t happiness Just find contentment, Forget all the rest. 70 Frutti When she was lonely, which was fairly often, Uma would lie on her bed in the dorm at Vanderbilt University and think about her home in India, remembering her family, and Turri and Frutti. She remembered the day Appa had brought them home. They were half grown claves then, with the knobby horns, castrated and ready to be trained as bullocks. It had been her birthday, and the family was celebrating by having a small party on the verandah with cake and Tutii- Frutti ice cream. Uma, her brothers, sisters, cousins and aunts were all sitting on the floor around the low table on the spacious verandah of the farmhouse when she saw her father lead the claves into the yard. Still wearing her paper hat and carrying the ice cream in a bowl, she jumped off the verandah and ran to her father. “Oh Appa, Appa, you have brought me the nicest gift of all! These baby cows are mine, aren’t they?” And before the five year old could be stopped, she had stuck the bowl under their faces and let them lick up every bit of the ice cream. “Uma, come back here this minute,” cried her mother running after her, “don’t give them the Tutti-Frutti!” sweet girl, your very own bullocks.” In the year that followed, Uma would straddle one bull or the other and ride it into the fields like Lord Shiva rode the Nandi Bull. “Ah! Here come Uma Maheshwari,” Appa would say when he saw her riding across the green paddy fields on the bull to bring him tiffin. But after she had been at Vanderbilt for four years and decided to get higher degrees, he’s written for permission to sell them. “Who will care for them if you never return” he wrote, expression his sorrow. She wrote immediately: “permission denied! I am coming home in three More years to collect my Tutti and my frutti and I hope you will give me a Parcel of land as well” And then she added a bit of a poem she’d composed. “The earth opens itself to the stamping feet of the bullocks in the paddy fields for she, our mother Earth, Knows that the sweetest manure cannot be far behind. But she recoils in horror from even the sight, the stench and dripping oil of the tin tractor.” And now with her Masters Degree in one hand and her Tom on her arm, she was actually returning home. Sometimes she didn’t know whether Tom was in love with her or with India. He was also an agricultural student, who wanted desperately to farm in India and grow the new hybrid rice cultivated at the International Rice Research Institute under his own guru, Dr Gurudev Singh Khush. Tom could talk about rice all night. “Uma, the president of the World Bank said that India could someday feed the hungry of the world! I feel we must accept this as a moral obligation!” Already he was saying ‘we’ when he spoke of India. She didn’t mind. In fact, his love for her country was so intense, sometimes it made her cry. They had spent two summers with her family on the farm and her father liked him; she could tell. Although not yet married it felt like it. “Separate rooms for now, my dearest,” she whispered. “We’ll have such a huge marriage celebration in India and I must really be the blushing bride because I’m not good at faking it.” Finally, both of them graduated and flew home. She made Tom promise not to kiss the soil when they got off the plane in Madras before taking another for Cochin. A taxi took them to the village and to the farm. The were met at the gate by the family. And as they entered the compound, there in the middle of the path was a spanking new shiny red tractor. “What’s this, Appa?” Wedding present for Tom,” “Nice, but…” “Wonderful, Sir Thank you. And right after the wedding, we’ll put this baby to work. Did I write to you about Dr. Khush?” “Appa, where are Tutti and Frutti?” “Oh, in the shed. I like to use these tractors now as they are quicker.” All the while she was growing up, Uma would sit with the bulls in the late afternoons, feeding them long sticks of fodder. “Hey, honey, do you think we have to wait until after the wedding to get started?” “But we don’t even have any land yet, Sweetie!” The next day, Appa drove Tom across the valley in his new tractor and they started tilling the rich dark soil. A few hours later Appa returned smiling. “He couldn’t wait, so I showed him where your land starts. He said he’d like to set out some peanuts because they’re good for the soil. When he saw how rich it is he said he could grow a tree from a match-stick. Nice young man.” However, Tom wasn’t back underneath the motor of the tractor, his shirt soaked with oil. “Can’t seem to fix this thing. We’ll have to get it up to the house some way.” And that was how Uma got the last laugh on her father. Appa was standing on the verandah when they pulled up the tractor. It had been harnessed to the two bulls who had easily dragged it across the valley and into the yard. Uma, carrying a stick with a few leaves on it walked behind with Tom. “Is that what they taught you at your fancy university?” shouted her father. “What they taught me was to love the earth, Appa. You can keep your old tin tractor, Tom and I will use my babies, okay?” “You’re my girl,” Appa whispered, with tears in his eyes, “and we’re glad to have you home too, Tom.” Tis a gift to be simple ‘Tis a gift to be simple ‘Tis a gift to be free ‘Tis a gift to come down where we want to be And when we find ourselves in place just right It will be in the valley of love and delight When true simplicity is gained To bow and to bend we won’t be ashamed To turn to turn will be our delight ‘til by turning turning we come round right. 71 Hope in Blighted Area Bangalore : Staf Reporter From The Hindu, December 1996 Two years after the Urdu riots shook and tore apart Valmikinagar, Kasturbanagar, Jagjivanram Nagar, Janata Colony, Mominpur, Old Guddatahalli, Devaraj Urs Nagar, Padarayanapura and Rayapuram on Mysore Road, these areas still regarded as communally sensitive. But on Sunday, it was a different sight altogether. Youth in these areas came together under the banner ‘Parisara Shanthi’ with the help of an NGO Pipal Tree, and launched a clean-up programme. Their operation began with Valmikinagar slum, where a sewage water swamp was filled to reclaim the land and build a community hall. A garbage bin had to be cleaned up. An adjoining drain had been caked with rubbish for the last ten years. “With this cleaning, we clean up our minds. All the Hindus and Muslims of the area have pitched in by doing this community activity,” said K K Kadar, a convener of the committee and an auto rickshaw driver by profession. According to Swamy Cinaya Chaitanya of Narayan Gurukula, “The community hall would be used for educational purpose. We want to spread the message of communal harmony and introduce health education programs. Even now, political forces try to spark off communal fights in these areas. We need to sensitive everyone. It would be a great help if anyone comes forward with financial support. “From today, for two months hence, on every Sunday the committee will take up cleaning of slums. The local youth have pledged to improve living conditions in the area,: said Lalu Narayan, Pipal Tree spokesman. “IT was outsiders who came and created the riots. Even now, they come and foment trouble,” said K Krishnan, one of the slum dwellers. Added Mohideenbi, an active participant in the project, “For three months, we did not sleep. We just took care of the injured and the children.” “The corporation has never cared for us. When the garbage starts rotting, we ourselves dump it elsewhere,” commented Muni Chowdappa, Pipal Tree Coordinator and a resident of Valmikinagar. Prejudice Poem by yours truly Prejudice makes up your mind Before you really know If a person’s bad or good And that’s stupid, don’t you know It’s better to be open-minded Just to wait and see. Why choose the chains Of prejudice? It’s better to be free. Eligotry is stupidity It shows a mind that’s small It shows a narrow –minded mind, Not reasonable at all. These are poor mental habits Allowing your mind to wear Those blinders of prejudice They won’t get you anywhere A bigot is a lazy man Too lazy to change his mind. To examine all the evidence He’s satisfied to be blind. The facts he never questions He only talks and shouts Repeating all the old clichés He’s never figured out 72 Illiterate He had always been ashamed though he never showed his feelings, always standing straight and tall. Even as an agricultural worker, he had pride. There were many times in Kanayappa’s life, when people read to him important papers. Voting was simple because he simply voted for the “Hand” but there were other times, such as when his father died and left him the bullocks and cart. The village headsman had some paper for him to sign because his brother made a dispute. Kanayappa had given his thumbprint. Another time, Kanayappa was hired by a mill to drive his bulls around and around the oil press. His wages were written out on a piece of paper, but the manager could easily have given him only part of his wages and kept the rest. He wouldn’t have known. Then, there was the time when he had to take his wife to her village in northern Karnataka and, at the bus station; he had to ask which bus to board. He couldn’t even read the name of the village written in front. He felt so lost, and so Kanayappa got angry at his wife for no reason that she could understand. He was very happy when the government educated his eldest son on a program for Scheduled Castes. It came in handy to have someone in the household who could read but I continued to bother his because, he said, “Now I have to hand over any papers to my son and do what ever he says. I would rather have been in control of my own life and not to depend on anyone else, even though I and only a farm hand.” He heard about the ‘open schools’ that were to begin in Guntur District, and he was very interested. Everyone was surprised that he wanted to learn to read and write. His wife admitted that she was also wanting education but was afraid that he would think it was silly, as old as they were. His son had read of the opportunity in the newspaper. Again, he told himself that if he’d been able to read it for himself he wouldn’t have had to trouble anyone else. It seemed that the Guntur District Educational Department had already chosen the places for conducting the program. They would be held in three phases. Students could study the fifth standard textbooks as much as they needed and attend open classes. Then, when they felt ready, they would take the examination for sixth standard. Then they would study the sixth standard text until they felt ready to pass seventh standard examination to join seventh standard and then eighth as well. Eventually, the government would add ninth and tenth. The best part was that there was no age limit, which meant Kanayappa and his wife could join and become literate. The government was opening schools for girls as well, in seventy areas where girls were not receiving very much education. He would like all three of his girls to go to school. Sometimes marriages were not lasting these days and he didn’t want all three of them to fall back on him if they were widowed or something His mother didn’t understand any of this. “Why son, why are you going to waste your time studying now when you could be working and earning wages.” “Sometimes, Amma, there is more to life than work. My son can sit down and read the newspaper. He knows what is going on all over the world, Amma, even the weather reports. Those are important things, Amma; are we to be only draught animals tied to the plow? Things are changing now and I want to be prepared.” “But son, they aren’t changing for us. We will always make our way by the sweat of our brow, with the good soil under our feet.” “Not so, Amma, sometimes Narasimha reads things to me from the papers that would surprise you. For instance, some men in he scheduled Caste Society helped their brothers to set up poultry farms. They’ve made thousands of rupees, Amma. Who knows what might come my way!” “Those Scheduled Caste farmers must have known important people. We don’t know anyone important.” “No Amma, so many things are happening. The CM had begun a program now for, ‘Empowerment of Youth’ and there are schemes for fish farming, bakeries, brick making, auto repair, cement block manufacturing, and on and on, so many schemes. A man must know how to read now, Amma, in order to be able to take advantage of these opportunities.” “But Narasimha is here to do the reading.” “Perhaps he will go from this place, Amma, some good opportunity might just come his way. Did you know that the man from the collector’s office was here in this very village only yesterday? He came at the request of the collector to find out what the youth of our village was interested in learning.” “Someone is running for office?” “No, Amma, elections are just past. The CM is very anxious to get this ‘Empowerment of Youth’ scheme moving. That is why I want to learn to read, Amma, I want to have that ability myself.” “And the girls? Why should they bother? They will have husband and children.” “Amma, husband may not remain forever! What if one of them is widowed at a young age or her husband become disabled. What if she has to be the wage earner? Isn’t it better to be prepared? Besides, she will get better husband if she knows something, isn’t it?” “Yes, my son, you are right. Things are changing in this state and we must keep up with the times, I guess, but, won’t you feel silly sitting in a class with children?” “No! I feel silly when I can’t catch a bus because I can’t read the signs, and I feel silly because the paymaster could cheat me and I am powerless to defend myself. No, Amma, I will sit in the classroom with pride because I am doing a difficult thing at this stage of my life. Maybe you ought to go as well, Amma.” “Aiyo Papam, leave me in peace.” Shall Do Much We shall do much in the years to come But what have we dine today We shall do much in the years to come We shall give gold in a princely sum But what have we done today, toady What have we done today? We hshall lift the heart and dry the tear But what have we done today We shall lift the heart and dry the tear And plant hope in the place of fear But what have we done today, my dear What have we done today, my dear What have we done today We shall be great in the years ahead But what are we today? When college is over and we are wed We’ll be very rich or famous instead But now we look on the future with dread What have we done today, toady, what have we done today 73 Indian Christians One of the finest threads running through the glorious tapestry of India is the bright thread of mixes parentage. The Anglo-Indian, the Goan Indian, the German-Indian, there are as many combinations as there are countries. A friend makes her home in Whitefield, which is a haven for these Indians of mixed parentage. Many of them are quite elderly and are left over from the Raj. Some of them look terribly British still, limping about in short skirts, gardening hats and shoes and socks. My friends have a tiny cottage in Whitefield which sits on the back of the Richard’s enclave and she tanks Gods every day for giving her such wonderful people for landlords. They are of mixed parentage, but some great thinkers have said that a Brahman is not born a Brahman but is created by one’s single-mindedness on God (Brahman). Lucia Richards is a Portuguese or Goan-Indian, and her husband, Dr Paul Richards, is an Anglo-Indian from Mangalore. Both are staunch Catholics as Paul is a convert. They attend Mass regularly at the local church. The Richards have four children. The eldest son is a Catholic Brother with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. The next son reaches poetry in London and is working on his second grant to study Coolridge. The third son is in the Air Force and stationed in Delhi. And the youngest, a girl, is married to a computer whiz in Australia. The children, all super-achievers came by it naturally from Lucia and Paul. Paul was a career Army Officer, and so they spent most of their lives on Army posts in India. Because the school situation wasn’t always great for her children, Lucia went back to college to get her teaching degree so she could teach them herself. Returning to school her India is not as common as it is in the States, and it took a lot of courage to compete with the young college students. As a result of her teaching degree, Lucia was able to get teaching assignments whenever Paul was stationed and supervised her children’s education. Now retired in Whitefield, she is glad that she is a teacher because she can teach slow-learners in the neighborhood as a service. She also substituted at the local convent school where her elder sister is a nun. Paul’s story is similar. When he retired from the Army as a high ranking officer, he returned to college to get his PhD at the University of Mysore. Now he commutes to that University, where he enjoys teaching the classes so much. Also, both Paul and Lucia are on standby for whatever jobs the Church has in mind for them to do. Their property in Whitefield is quite big, possible two acres, and so they have built four separate little cottages in the back so that their children can retire and eventually return to India. In the meantime, they are all rented out to the foreigners who come to visit the ashram nearby. They like to remain busy doing service and they are people of strong principles. For instance, they waited five years to get a phone because they wouldn’t pay the bribe. They feel that Whitefield is perfect for retirees and, indeed, many live around them. There is the Whitefield Club, where the elderly members show up for dinner and a game of bridge. It has a wonderful library with all the newest books donated by some of the wealthier people who live around the neighborhood. There are plenty of service opportunities available also; for instance, a school for learning disabled and an orphanage run by the Catholic Church. When their daughter-in-law in the UK was pregnant, Lucia simply packed up and went to her side. She stayed for six months and loved it. But, when she wrote to her husband, asking him to join her for a visit, she received a negative reply. He said, “We are Indian and belong here. I spent my life defending my motherland and could not think of stepping outside her borders for even a visit!” I Love God I love God and God loves me We are all Divinity Jesus*, Jesus*, help us see God is love and so are we. *On repeats, the many names of God may be used here (Allah Allah, ahura Mazda, Krishna, Krishan, etc) 74 I said No! True Story “It was during the Naxalite time in the early ‘70s, before West Bengal had a communist government. Naxalites were not so violent in West Bengal as elsewhere, but they wanted me to close down the school. I said no!” Now at 62, Mrs. Bhosh is still very dedicated both to India and to the teaching profession itself. “I never wanted to be anything but a teacher,” she confessed. As the principal of the largest higher to be anything secondary school in West Bengal for thirty years, Mrs. Bhosh had many tales to tell. “There were 2,500 girls under my care and I was like a mother to each one. Every day I visited each classroom, simply to give my support and love to the girls. Those were troubled times. Whenever Mrs. Gandhi came to Calcutta, she visited our school.” “In 1975,” she continued, “there was an All State Bundh and the entire city was closed down, except for our school. They wanted me to close the school entirely and begin a completely different system of education. All the agitators were men, of course, and many were University students. They ordered me to close down the school!” “What did you do, Mrs. Bhosh?” “I said no!” “No?” “All those girls were depending on the school for their future education. I said, “I can’t do it!” Then they threatened me and said that they would kill me if I didn’t close my doors.” “I said, do it!” If you feel like killing your mother, then I will go to my grave knowing that my children killed me!” “They surrounded the entire school. It encompassed a city block. They surrounded the school and then they said that they were coming in to discuss the issue. I said, yes, yes, you can come! But only if you will come in and address me as your mother. Then, I will happily talk to you about anything.” I think that they trusted me because I never locked the doors and because, even though they threatened to kill me, I never summoned the police. I faced all of them alone!” “They came into my office and I said, now, sit down, my sons, I will listen to you because I am your mother.” “One boy immediately fell at my feet and began weeping like anything. It seems that he had lost his mother quite recently and I didn’t know.” “You are my mother!” he wept. After that, they all relaxed and we spoke at length about what was going on and about education. I, of course, as an educationist, was able to explain simply what we were doing and why their system was faulty. I never closed down the school. Later, I was able to get that boy into a technical school and he in touch with me even today. “I can just see you, Mrts Bhosh, drawing yourself up to your full 4ft 10in and confronting that group of revolutionaries who wanted to kill you. Were they armed?” “I made them leave their weapons outside the school.” “Along with their shoes, I suppose.” “Of course,” she laughed. Naturally, she continues to teach. She is with the famous Tagore Shanthi Niketan outside Calcutta, where she helps with the administration of the University and lectures on education. But she is not teaching all the time. Her lovely old English bungalow had a fine flower garden and she spends much of her time in solitude with nature. She is living a very peaceful life, but you can tell there’s a touch of fire still in the attic. I am Brother No I am Brother no You’ve heard of me I know I and sister yes We answer each request Saying ‘yes’ is fun And pleases everyone But ‘no’ makes us much more strong And save us form all harm No,no,no,no, I don’t want to go, no No,no,no,no, that isn’t right I know No,no,no,no,, my mother told me no No,no,no,no,..Aiyo! I just told you no! This is a true story. Only the name of the lady has been changed and she has given permission. 75 Medical Shop It was Christmas Eve and Chandra decided that he might as well close a few minutes early. About 6.50 pm, he pulled down the iron shutter on his little medical shop in Whitefield and hopped on his two-wheeler. Starting the motor, he thought, “Maybe I’ll go by and pick up a pint of chocolate ice cream for the kids tonight. They’d appreciate a treat on Christmas Eve, even though all of our Hindu festivals are over for the year.” He turned the bike around and headed towards the nearest Joy ice cream stand, when he noticed Mr. Peters lumbering up the road. He knew that Mrs. Peters had died only six months ago, as they had bought all of their medication from his shop. Glancing now at the old man, he noticed that he could hardly bend his knees to walk. The wrinkled shirt was buttoned crooked and the old man’s shawl dragged on the ground. “He used to be such a carefully turned out elderly gentleman,” thought Chandra to himself. “Hey, the old man is going to the shop, I’d better go back.” When he reached the shop, old Mr. Peters was simply standing there staring at the closed shutter, exhausted and breathing heavily. Slowly, he put his hand to his head. “Must be having one of his headaches,” thought Chandra. “Came back for you, sir,” Chandra called out as he hopped off the bike. Mr. Peters looked confused. “Oh, there are, Chandra—gasp! Didn’t know how I was going to make it back home with this headache of mine. I’m out of crocin.” “Yes sir,, I thought it was something like that so I came back to help. Let me just unlock this shutter and I’ll be with you.” “I need something for this head. You know, I almost couldn’t make it down here because my knees seem to have gotten worse lately.” “Here’s the crocin, sir. We’ve gotten in something for elderly with weakened bones, this osteoporosis. It’s called Calcium Carbonate and some people are having good results. Would you like to try a strip? If it works, you can pay me when you buy the next supply. If it doesn’t help, it’s my gift. Okay?” “All right, if you think it’s good. I’ve been reading that bone problem.” “Here you are, sir?” “Keep the change. I appreciate your service.” “Oh no sir, I know your pension barely covers your expenses. Happy to help.” “Much obliges.” “Merry Christmas, sir. Her let me fix those buttons and I noticed your shawl was dragging as well. There you are, sir, all fixed up.” The old man turned around and tried to walk away but you could tell that his knees were very painful. He grabbed the counter for support. “Mr. Peters, do you think you could ride on the back of my two- wheeler?” “I could try, Chandra.” “You see sir, I was on my way to that Joy ice-cream place to get a little Christmas treat for my kids. Would you like to join us? This may not be the happiest Christmas you’ll ever spend.” “I appreciate your invitation, son. Tomorrow I’ve been invited for Christmas dinner with my neighbour the Richards, but I guess I do feel a little lonely tonight.” “Done!” Chandra locked up the shop again and started his bike. “Just sit right there and hold on to me, sir, the ice cream shop is just opposite.” With his shawl flying, Mr Peters felt a bit of excitement as he zoomed out into the night. A wind gave his cheeks a ruddy hue and blew his white hair away from his face. “Whew! This is very invigorating, Chandra! Better than Santa’s sleigh, I’ll bet.” At the ice cream stand, Mr Peters offered to pay for the chocolate ice cream, but Chandra wouldn’t hear of such a thing. The old man ended up buying a small plum cake from Nilgiri’s to make the occasion even more festive. When they arrived at Chandra’s small house, Radha and Rajiv came running out to greet their father. Naturally, they were a little shy when they saw Mr Peters, but one look at the ice cream changed all that. “Mommy, Mommy, daddy’s brought home ice cream and an old man.” They cried. “No, No, children, you must not say all that, “cautioned their mother. “Sarojini, this is Mr. Peters. He’s going to spend Christmas Eve with us, isn’t that nice?” said Chandra. “Maybe he’ll tell us a little about how he and his wife use to spend Christmas Eve at their house.” Everyone sat around the small living room and Sarojini went to the kitchen to serve the ice cream and cake. “Children, you must come and help me to bring in the dishes for our guest,” she called. “I hope that I’m not too much trouble,” said Mr. Peters. “My children live in Australia now, but I expect they are thinking of me tonight; I know I’m thinking of them, and of Margaret. It’s been a difficult six months. We were married for sixty years, you know,” he said, wiping the tears away from the corners of his eyes. Radha came over and sat on the arm of his chair. “Please don’t cry, Mr. Peters. We lost our grandpa this year too and sometimes I think of him and miss him so much,” “Radha was very close to her grandfather,” confided Chandra. “Yes and now you can be our grandfather, okay?” smiled the little girl. “Now dear, Mr. Peters may have enough grandfathers of his own.” “But they aren’t with me,” said the old man taking the child’s hand. “I really need to have grandchildren her now, I think. You know, the church sent over a little Christmas tree and a few decorations but I haven’t been able to even take it out of the box. Would you all like to come over to my house tomorrow morning and help me to trim the tree?” “Of course we would,” said Saroj. “Is that okay with you, Chandra?” “Sai Ram, it’s a wonderful idea and a good way to start the New Year by adopting a grandfather.” Later, when Chandra deposited Mr. Peters at his doorstep, he noticed more tears in the old man’s eyes. “Don’t cry anymore, Grandfather, you’ve just adopted an entire family. Can you make it inside all right?” “No, no these are happy tears now,” the old man said smiling.” I might even write to my children in Australia and tell them about this wonderful Christmas Eve. Thanks, Chandra. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Sharing is caring Sharing is caring, for others, all are brothers Giving and forgiving is really living the loving way Words like ‘I’ and; ‘Mine’ bring about possessiveness And holding on to what we own won’t bring us happiness So love and smiles and sympathy should not be locked away For those things only multiply when giving away. 76 Navel Cadets For eight days, 400 cadets had a real feeling of what it would be like to be a navy man. The annual camp provided a thrilling, though taxing, experience for them. The cadets were on a strict routine, up early, good food, rigorous schedule of training and competitions. They were learning to live and interact with youngster of their own age from other parts of the country, of divergent cultures and languages. The annual camps are also and arena for the groups to choose one cadet to present the Republic Day banner to the Prime Minister at the Annual Rally on Republic Day, on January 26, in New Delhi. Two of the competitions were boat rowing ([pulling’) and sailing. The first event equalling 25 points and the second, 12.5 points. Prabanjan of Kerala was naturally very skilled in both, and so all the groups were anxious to get him into their boats. Reddy, from the coastal region of Andhra was another sought- after candidate. Then there was Omprakash from Bangalore. The boys were taking in their quarters after the lights were out “My Appa is a boat builder near here,” said Reddy quietly. “Nothing fancy, but he builds good solid boats.” “I am also form a boating family,” said Ajit, who hailed from Mumbai. “But we own them, we don’t build them ourselves,” He laughed a little nervously. “What about you, Om?” “My father is a farmer and I’m a son of the soil.” “If it’s good enough for the PM, it’s good enough for you, correct?” laughed Ajit. “Correct, correct.” Omprakash had said that his father was a farmer, but he hadn’t said that the farm was big. It was, in fact, very big. “I’m afraid I even get sea sick when the waves are high, but I’m determined to make the Navy my career,” added Omprakash. “Brave words from farm hand! Well, I’m bushed. Good night all,” said Ajit. The next day the boys were up again very early, training in the boat pulling, worth 25 point. Ajit was on the horn, “Pull,” he shouted. “3-4; pull those oars.” Om seemed to have the same sunny disposition in him to work the oars harder. The ragging angered the rest of the team also, and the boat flew across the waves. “Good team work!” shouted Capt Ghosh. “Good team work! Ajit, are you thinking about a career in the Navy?” “No sir, the stock exchange,” smiled Ajit,, “ My Father sent me to camp to try to toughen me up.” This year’s new event was scheduled to be ‘area competition,’ but it was difficult because of the constant rain. The boys went out in teams and, somehow, Omprakash was again with Ajit. The mud was knee high as the lads tried to erect their tents. “You build the snake pit around the tent, Om, you’re so good with the soil,” muttered Ajit, who was covered with mud. He elected to stay in the tent and was beginning to lose control. “Thanks for the vote of confidence,” laughed Om, as he shouldered the shove and headed out of the tent. Just then, there was a bolt of lightning and instant thunder. A tree above then fell on the tent, which collapsed, trapped Ajit inside. Omprakash knew he would need help, so he started to run through the rain and mud to find it. “Om, Om, for God’s sake, don’t leave me here,” cried the stunned Ajit. Omprakash didn’t pause because he knew Ajit was probably hurt and, even though he knew that a man running through the water could draw the next bolt of lighting, he carried on. Fortunately the officers were close and had seen the struck by lighting and was now smouldering. They were taking care of the situation at hand. “Help, help!” shouted Ajit. “Please, I’m on fire!” The men raised the trunk of the tree, which was now really beginning to burn, and Om went in to get Ajit. Carrying him out gently, Om explained to Ajit what had happened. “I thought you were running away, you son of a gun, I didn’t realize you’d gone for help.” That night the fellows were sitting around, talking. Ajit had a cast on his broken leg. “Listen Omparkash, I’m sure my father will want to reward you for this,” he said. Om waved his hand. “We navy men are always prepared to take chances!” At the end of the camp, Omprakash, the farmer’s son, won the most points and the chance to go to Delhi in January to present the Republic Day banner. “I’m really happy for you,” smiled Ajit “When I present the banner,” began Omparkash, “I’ll speak to the Prime Minister in Kannada. One farmer’s son to the other.” If You Think You’re Beaten If you think you’re beaten, you are If you think you dare not, you won’t If you’d like to win but you think that you can’t It is almost for certain that you won’t If you think you’ll lose. You’re lost For out in the world you will find Success begins with a person’s will Its all in the state of mind If you think you’re outclassed you are You’re got to think high to rise You’re got to be sure of your self before, You can ever really win a prize Life’s battles don’t always go To the stronger or faster man But sooner or late the one who wins Is the one who thinks he can. 77 Open School When he received his gold metal after passing out of B. Sc, Mahesh Mahalingam was asked by his friends if he intended to go for higher study. Most of them, it seemed, were going for their Masters and some would even go abroad. “No, I want to stay here and help the children of Hyderabad,” he said even though his parents, who were well off, would have sent his anywhere that he wished to go. “Son, if you want the MBA training, you can join your elder brother in his firm,” his father said no more than one occasion. “No, Father, I want to help the children of Hyderabad. This is something that I have always wanted to do. Many of these poor children are running the streets without food or shelter and they’re only small children so they cannot be blamed in any way. I don’t think that I need very much more education in order to teach them, as long as love is there! My plan is to start teaching them at wherever place they happen to be. First, I will go to the shelters and then, afterwards, to the streets also.” “But, Mahesh,” argued his elder brother, “it is their bad karma. Besides, those children are completely worthless. They are cheats and robbers even now. If you educate them, you’ll have smarter cheats and robbers.” “I don’t’ happen to agree with you,” said the mild mannered Mahesh.” We must assist them to climb out of their well of misery. Do you realize that there are at least 40,000 children living on the streets of Hyderabad? Most are orphans and runaways, and have malaria and amoebiosis. What mother will come to cover them at night and to protect their small bodies from insects? Who will give them clean food?” “What a strange boy you are, Mahesh, to worry yourself about clean foods for the urchins.” Mahesh didn’t listen to his brother but resolutely went ahead with his plan. He started his first school in an open field behind the city bus stand so that children could continue to beg for their food and go to school at the same time. He knew that they had to beg and that very often-whole families were depending of them for food. The first lesson was to teach them to sign their names so that they would have an identity. “Now, no one can claim something which is rightfully yours, for this is your signature,” he told them. No one had ever treated them in such a respectful manner before and the children trusted him. The group of children were very large. The morning group was of at least two hundred and the evening, more that four hundred. They can to ‘school’ quietly and made neat rows in the field, drawing the Telegu alphabet in the dirt with their family became his supporters. When each child had learned to write his or her name, Mahesh’s ‘hard-hearted’ brother donated a blanket to protect them from the insects and the night air. Mahesh had a very successful year. Over the following year, Mahesh managed to get married. His requirement for a bride was the willingness to help him to teach the street children of Hyderabad, and Umananda was willing. His elder brother was amazed when Umananda’s parents agreed. She was a born social worker and after a brief honeymoon, began working with the girls in Hyderabad who were a much smaller group but more susceptible to abuse. The children were so happy that their young teacher now had a wife. “Wife is life,” they kept saying, and welcome her with flowers and a basket they had woven from grasses. Mahesh knew that service would always be his life. Umananda taught them to honor their physical bodies and, by teaching them martial arts skills, she taught them not to allow any kind of abuse from anyone. She taught both the boys and girls about AIDS. It was at this time that Mahesh and hid wife began working with the society for Development in Urban Areas (SDUA) in Hyderabad. The group had heard of Mahesh and his successful ‘name- writing’ program. They had been doing social work in Hyderabad for many years. They explained to Mahesh that they were as many as 1000 points around the city where the children assembled each day. “If you recruit the teachers,” said Mahesh, “I will see that all these children can write their names and do sum numbers.” But the officials explained that it would take at least 85 teachers to cover so many locations, “Besides,” he said, “thee children are not motivated to learn.” “I think they are,” said Mahesh,” and I will prove it to you.” It seemed to Mahesh that all of his life, not only did he have to fight to help the children of Hyderabad, but he had to fight with those who should have known better. “If I had even twenty teachers, I think the children would travel long distances to attend the classes and learn.” “I can only give you ten,” said the director. “That’s fine because it’s ten more than! had before I spoke to you today and we were getting the job done before. Never mind, it’s a start.” The people at SDUA were amazed at the number of children who turned up for Mahesh’s classes. Slate and chalk were donated as well as some books. Shaminana tents blossomed in various places to keep out the sun and the rain. The street children felt that it was the ‘smart’ thing to go to learn to write your name. Information about the classes was passed along by word of mouth among the children. “Now I will teach you numbers,” said Mahesh to the children, “because everyone will take advantage of your lack of education and you’ll be cheated.” The children turned up in droves. “How have you succeeded when so many have failed?” asked the project manager. “Simple,” answered Mahesh, “We love them.” Scatter the seed of Love Scatter the seed of love on dreary desert hearts Then love will sprout and grow, And make the wastelands green with joy Blossoms of love will make the air more fragrant Rivers of love will murmur through the valleys And every bird will beat his wings And every child will sing a song of love Start the day with love Fill the day with love End the day with love, dear children For love brings happiness 78 Precious Water One day I saw a young girl with a headscarf having tea in the canteen. “Salaam Elakim,” I said putting my hands together. “Elakim Salaam” she answered beaming. “Have you come to see Sai Baba?” I asked. “Oh yes. I am here with my father. We wanted to thank him personally for the water project in Anantapur. My father said if Sai Baba hadn’t put in all those huge pipes, we wouldn’t have had any water at all. The goondas were already after my father so Sai Baba’s water came just in time. “What goondas?” I asked. “Oh well, you see for so many years, as far as I can remember, we have to place our pots and vessels in line to get water from the truck which would come to sell us water. Then one day, my father started poking around and examining things. He noticed that the plastic pipe connection from the bore well to our pump had been ruthlessly cut. He went to Bangalore on the bus and came back with a good sturdy piece of metal pipe the exact size and length and he was able to make the connection and get us water from the bore well. Other people began to notice that their plastic pipes had been broken and they too reconnected their pipes. Soon there were hardly any pots or vessels in the line for the trucks. No one was buying anymore. “Papa,” my mother said, “those goondas will try to kill you.” “Don’t worry, wife, Sri Sathya Sai Baba is about to inaugurate the Anantapur Water project so all will be able to have water.” “Papa,” my mother said, “Be careful anyway. Those goondas are very bad men.” That night the goondas came in their jeeps to our house but fortunately Papa had heeded Mama’s advice and we were hiding across the street. We watched as they set fire to our house. “Allah Ho Akbar,” whispered Papa and the rain came down and put off the fire. The goondas were alarmed at the suddenness of the rain. “Those Muslim must be devotees of Sai Baba,” they said and they drove off quickly. “So you see, Bala, we have to thank Dear Sathya Sai Baba for many things and that is why we came. We usually thank him in the large Sufi temple in Penukonda but, this deserved a special thanks.” Water What’s happened to my tap today? It’s drained, the water’s run away Chorus…. Water, give me water., I need a drink of water Water, give me water. I need a drink of water I used to let it run away I wasted so much everyday Chorus… Water, give me water., I need a drink of water Water, give me water. I need a drink of water They told us this would come about They said, we’re heading for a drought Chorus… Water, give me water ,. I need a drink of water Water, give me water. I need a drink of water But nobody believe their words We thought it was just too absurd Chorus… Water, give me water., I need a drink of water Water, give me water. I need a drink of water What’s happened to my tap today? It’s drained, The water’s run away Chorus…. Water, give me water., I need a drink of water Water, give me water. I need a drink of water 79 The Prize for Good Behavior The family consisting of one girl and two small boys entered the Central Prison Hall with their mother who was dressed in a white starched uniform. They were poor but they carried their heads high though the father was inmate of the prison. The reason why the children were proud was because though their father was incarcerated, their mother was a laundress at the Buea hospital and so they had never gone hungry like most of the other children in the room who were here for the annual Christmas party. The group from CYR, Christian Youth Fellowship, were down front singing and drumming around the ‘angel tree’ which was brightly lit. They had already distributed the gifts of sheets, candy, pieces of soap and toilet rolls and then, they had given a prize to the ‘best behaved prisoner.’ The children weren’t there in time for the prize giving but they were sure that their father had not been chosen. “Your father is belligerent,” said the mother. “He knows that he is innocent and will not give an inch.” “But Mama, he shouldn’t stay angry and bitter for too long, should he?” asked one of the small boys. They saw their father seated at the very end of the table of prisoners. “He’ll never come home to us if he stays bitter.” “You go and tell him that,” said Mama with her eyes blazing. The family children trooped down the length of the room, past all the other prisoners, to the very ends of the row of men in prison garb. They found their father with chains around his feet. “Daddy, Daddy, they have you in chains. We were hoping you would get the prize for best behavior.” He laughed a deep chuckle, a wide grin broke his solemn face in two. “You children are my prize, and you please tell your Mama not to give these people a single coin, in case they ask. They know that she is working now and making a good salary.” “Will they ask, Daddy?” “Don’t know. You hear all kinds of things.” “But Daddy, if you lost your bitterness and anger, these people would be happy and you could return to us sooner. We miss you so much.” He sighed, patting his small boy on the head. “I miss you all too but…maybe it won’t be so long now. I’ll try to cooperate but I’m not giving them any information on the crime. You see my word to that fellow who pulled the bank job that I wouldn’t name him. So I’ll just have to sit this out, that’s all.” “Ok, Merry Christmas, Papa, be happy.” “I’ll try, son.” After the children trooped back to their Mama, someone came around with a box of pieces of soap and toilet rolls. “Thank you, we don’t need that,” said mama, “but we appreciate your good thoughts and kindness. The tree sure is beautiful.” And not knowing the songs that were being sung as they were not a part of their your be religion, they waved to their father and left Your Word How good is your word and What does it mean Is it of any value, Does it have esteem When you give your word Is it something you keep. Or are your words worthless And your comments slick Can we trust your word Or do you soon forget If its; nor convenient, Will you go back on it? It really is important, To do just what you say And never ever brake your word At all in any way. 80 Retribution Where do you do your banking Dr Mrs. Ghosh?” I asked my doctor friend from USA. I had just recently begun attending the evening bhajan which she held in her large, beautifully constructed prayer hall. “I don’t. I let my friends take care of that for me. I give them the foreign currency and they get me a better rate in rupees than I could get in the bank.” “Oh,” said I, realizing that she was dealing in black money. “Not entirely legal, is it?” “I don’t understand these Indian laws. My friends take care of everything for me.” “Well, keep your karma clean,” I said laughing, but I meant what I said. “Of course, darling. What’s the harm?” A few days after, when Dr Mrs. Ghosh returned to USA, her lovely palace was ransacked by dacoits. Any coincidence? Who knows? But I’ve learned that we must be constantly on the alert for our own lack of ethics and dharmic action. When I became better acquainted with Dr Mrs. Ghosh, I found that she had paid under the table to purchase the land for her house, she’d paid a ‘service charge’ on the power connection, and also on the telephone connection. In India, corruption adds so much to the cost that many people cannot afford to construct their houses unless they are wealthy. Corruption, therefore, must be rooted our and the scams unearthed. People must be educated to constantly focus on good value and be constantly reminded that corruption buried the very soul of mankind. Somewhat later, Dr Mrs. Ghosh asked her spiritual master to come and bless the bhajan hall was dismayed when he would not accept the initiation. India can be regarded as Karma Bhoomi. An important fact of that attribute is that, more than anywhere else in the world, Indians everywhere are aware of the fact that the law of Karma presides relentlessly over their destinies. Finally, something happened to make Dr Mrs. Ghosh realize the deeper significance of her actions. The electrical contractor had been given Rs.100 by Dr Mrs. Ghosh for an earlier connection, Rs.500 for the government bribe and Rs.500 for the contractor. A week passed after the money had changed hands and there was a knock on her door late one night. She answered it to find her contractor standing there in an agitated state. “Please, Madam, I have come to return the Rs.1000 to you,” he said, pressing the money into her hands. “If you insist on bribing the government, then you must do it yourself.” “Yes, all right,” replied Dr Mrs. Ghosh, “I’m not bothered about that, but surely you have earned the extra Rs.500.” “Oh no, Madam! I felt so bad about the money that I went to the Durga temple this morning to offer the money and there to the Divine Mother. As I started to slip it into the hundi I heard clearly these words: ‘Do you want to make God also tainted by offering your ill gotten Rs 500?’ Please Madam take all of your money back, please.” And so, in that way, Dr Mrs. Ghosh finally realized that, here in India at least people understand the Karmic implications of taking black or ill-gotten money. After she realised that she was, in fact, feeding into corruption, she stopped paying bakshish. Then, her spiritual teacher came and blessed her house and her prayer hall. This glorious land has one features not found in any other country; knowledge of the divine truth. If this land if corrupt, it means that the people are moving away form their true Indian culture and spirituality. One hopes that at every level of education, the need to be aware and truthful will be drilled into the minds of the people, particularly the children. That alone can eradicate the cancer of corruption Meaning of Integrity What is the meaning of integrity? It means that I listen to the god in me It means I will speak the truth in my honesty It means you can always count on me What is the meaning of integrity? It means you can always count on me. 81 Rickshaw Risks Ali is waiting for you, Geetha. “You’ll be late for school, so finish tying the hair ribbon in the rickshaw.” “Yes, Mummie, I’m nearly ready,” called Geetha, age eight, as she bounced down the tile steps from her bedroom upstairs in the old rambling bungalow in Calcutta. “I can’t find, my geography book! Oh, here it is!” she said picking it up from the table in the living room. Suddenly, a medium-sized man of about fifty years appeared in the doorway. “Oh Ali, she’s come down. Don’t worry, she won’t be late.” “Yes Ma’am,” said Ali quietly. “May I speak to you?” “Of course, Ali, what is it?” Ali sometimes brought his family problems to Mrs. Chatterji. Originally from Gaya in Bihar, Ali had carried all three of her daughters to the convent school, five miles away, every morning for the past fifteen years. He was never late and held their very lives in his hands as he pulled his rickshaw through the crowded streets. When his father had a stroke, Mrs. Chatterji provided the extra money for the medicines and hospital. When his wife almost died during the birth of their last child, Mrs. Chatterji did the same and also paid for the sterilization procedure the doctor suggested. In fact, she had been instrumental in persuading him to have the operation. Mr. Chatterji also thought a great deal of Ali. “I wish all my employees were as trutworthy,” he said. They paid him Rs 300 a month, which was much more than was needed, but he also picked the girls up and brought them home. “Ma’am, come January 1st 1997, the rickshaw will be banned by the Transport Ministry.” “I know, I read about it in the papers. They are saying that rickshaw pulling can never be part of the civil society. For us it isn’t a problem. We will simply have Mohan drive Geetha in the car. But, what will you do, Ali?” “Ma’am, the rickshaw has been my life. I live in a room with nine other pullers and we eat only one, sometimes two, good meals a day. We live better than most pullers and I’ve been able to send money home to my family in Gaya.” “I know, Ali, but you cannot go against the law. When they outlawed the cattle sheds in the city, they found another source of livelihood for the thousands herding cattle. Won’t they do the same for the pullers?” “Ma’am, even if the state would do that, it would only be for the licensed men. They have refused to issue licenses since 1944 and there are 25,000 pullers. Only 6,000 are absolutely legal and 12, 000 hold a license to pull only outside the city. I am not a so lucky.” “Don’t worry, Ali, I will speak to my husband. I’m sure he will find some work for you. You’ve been so loyal. I remember during the floods, you were able to wade through the water. When our car couldn’t take my husband, Rakal, to work, you could.” “Yes, Ma’am,” choked poor Ali, with tears rolling down his cheeks. He hurried outside to take Geetha to school. Rakal was late that evening and, when he did come in, he was in a terrible mood. “Those Union will be the death of me,” he complained. “I’ve given in on every issue and still they harangue us.” “Please sit down, Rakal, and take rest. Geetha, please get a sweet lime juice or your father.” “What’s going on here! Looks like I’m in for further negotiations with my own wife!” “No Rakal, you can’t afford to become upset over these things; you know your heart. You’d better take a nitroglycerin tablet.” “I don’t need it, I’m all right. Don’t men have any honour anymore? What happened to the good old work ethic?” Geetha gave her father the sweet lime. “Ali still had the work ethic, Papa. Ali is always on time and never argues about money.” “Yes, Geetha, Ali is a jewel all right. I wish that I had 500 Alis at the factory.” “You can have one, Papa.” “What do you mean?” “He’s going to be out of a job in only six months, when they take the rickshaws off the streets of Calcutta.” “Oh yes, I did read about that in the papers. Of course I’ll give Ali a job in my factory, no problem. As a matter of fact, I’d thought of that myself.” “You know dear, Ali if fifty years old, he may not be able to learn a new profession.” “Profession? Well, dear I thought even if I hired him as a coolie around the plant, he’ll make more money than he does now. He’s been a servant to this family for so long now, hasn’t he? What a relief to always know that the girls are safe and sound. Hey! I’ll retire him if he likes and give him enough each month to go back to Gaya and start a chai shop. Would he like that? He’s good man and I’m obliged to him. After this week with the union, I appreciate him even more. Do you realise how dangerous it is to pull a rickshaw in this congested city? The trams and buses are whizzing by on one side and the cars on the other. The poor fellows plod along like beasts of burden. Beside that, they’re harassed by the police for not having the proper license, which almost none of them have. I’ve seen them carrying enormous loads of produce from the markets. The government should certainly help by fixing them up with bicycle rickshaws at least. It’s very dangerous work and the fellows are taking a risk at every moment. Whatever he wants to do now, just let me know. I’m grateful for his service.” The next morning when Ali came to pick up Geetha for school, she dragged him into see her Mummie. “Oh yes, come in Ali, my husband and I talked last night and we are of the same mind. Because you have rendered such service to our children for all these very years, my husband has decided that you can retire with a pension.” “What, Ma’am?” “If you would like to retire and stay in Gaya with your family, we will give you a small pension. In fact, my husband said that he would set you up with a chai stall also, if you would like.” Ali starred in disbelief. His knees began to quake and his chin dropped. “A retired rickshaw puller?” he gasped. “Yes, why not! Why shouldn’t good service be rewarded? You can think about your future, Ali, and we will definitely help with whatever you decide to do.” Ali collapsed and sat down on the floor, bawling. “Geetha, bring Ali a little water and then tell Mohan to start the car. This will be the first time Ali has been unable to take you to school in all these years!” Geetha was covering her mouth with her hand so the giggle wouldn’t be too loud. “Oh no, Ma’am. Croaked Ali, Please don’t do that. Come along, Miss Geetha, we’ll be late for school.” 82 Uplifting Sheep The two shepherd boys roamed the hills all through the day, usually finding a small tree in the afternoon to escape the hottest rays of the sun and to have a nap. At night, they slept in the shed with the animals, after bringing them back home safely. The flock of seven hundred and fifty sheep was owned by the biggest landlord around, Rangareddy. These tow shepherds were not exactly bonded labourers, because they had not been sold to Mr. Rangareddy, but they would, in all likelihood, remain with him forever, simply because they had not better opportunity for work. Ramu had been born to a shepherdess on a mountain top, far away form any medical help. She was not so strong and died in childbirth, but one of the other shepherdesses tending the flock took baby Ramu and raised him. Like his mother before him, he too became a shepherd as soon as he could walk properly. Chandra, Ramu’s partner, was the son of an agricultural worker and a member of the landless poor. He too had been a shepherd since early childhood. Both the boys were in their mid-twenties and were of the Yadava clan. They actually were satisfied with this life and felt lucky to have their jobs, even though they were poor. There were disadvantages, however, because they were too poor to have wives or children or houses or families, and they were increasingly lonely out there in the hills. They had noticed a few of the shepherdesses in the villages through which they passed, and had even tried to catch their eyes; but ever the little shepherdesses felt superior and looked down on them as being quite worthless. One bright and shining day, a jeep appeared on the road adjacent to the field where Ramu and Chandra were grazing the landlord’s sheep. It pulled up and so Ramu and Chandra both hid behind rocks. When they saw that it was their master’s assistant, Mr. Ramakrishnan, however, they came running out happily. They had learned by experience that it is always better to be just a bit suspicious of strangers in jeeps. “What Appa? You would like to see us or speak to us? Why did you come here to this field?” asked the innocent boys. “I have news which may be good for you both.” Said Mr. Ramakrishnan. “A sheep development project has been sanctioned for Kurnool District to benefit the backward caste Yadava community. The government will give breeding rams and sheep to those who need the most help. If you both were given four or six sheep and one ram, after being careful to mark them as your own, you could let them run with this herd, which belongs to Rangareddy. Later on, you could be paid for the wool from your own sheep, an even sell the lambs if you wished.” “We would never want to sell the lambs. Sir, they cry so much, and their mother also cry.” “But, my point is, that they would indeed be yours to do with as you wished. It would bring in extra income.” “It is good, Uncle. We will raise sheep and also have wife!!” “That isn’t all, Ramu, these people are also giving houses to the down- trodden. I know that at your age in life you long for wife and children, but they must have place, isn’t it?” “Yes, Uncle.” “Chandra, your mother is too elderly now to do much work. With a small house and a daughter-in-law, it would be enough for her. You could provide these things with your ever increasing herd of sheep.” He smiled. “Please help us Uncle, for you are known by everyone to have a compassionate heart,” murmured Chandra, and both boys touched the feet of the kind manager. Ramakrishanan was known in many villages to be a friend of the backward classes and the tribals. It seemed that he was always on the alert for some opportunity that could be passed along to the people in need of help. “When you return this evening, we will discuss the matter further. Today, I will drive to Kurnool and see just how soon we might obtain the sheep for you from the government. The brides and the houses might take a little longer, I suppose,” and he smiled from ear to ear. Work and Play Work and play we do every day But something’s more important Be loving and kind And you will find Happiness every day Understanding Do you understand just how I feel Understanding helps to make hurts all heal Do you understand what I have to say? If you do I’m happy, I feel better right away There is an old saying, old but true That if I wear your shoes, I will understand you But I guess real understanding is very rare ‘cause it shows for certain That you really care. 83 Ceiling on Desires Group Two Jenny had everything; a classy looking Mom, a great looking Dad and a brother who was a hunk. Oh, and plenty of money because her father was the most popular lawyer in town. Jenny So I’m actually starting middle school this year Mom, and I’ve made a list of what I’ll need…300 dollar Reeboks for staters. I’m going to really wow all the guys with my new outfits! This is a new me I’m ready! Mom I don’t want you wearing that bright pink lipsticks to school, Jenny, you look cheap. Or the gold and purple eye-shadow either. All of that makes you look like a cheap teen-ager and you’re only 11. Jenny Oh Mon, I’m 11 but 11 is like 15 was when you were growing up. All the kids wear a lot of make-up, Mom. Reeeaaalllly! When you drive me to school tomorrow for registration, you’ll see. Mom Then they all look cheap. I will not allow you out of the house that way. Jenny (Thinking how she would sneak the make-up out and put it on later. Why do you make me sneak around, like that? She never once thought of obeying her. Jenny’s Mom parked the car and they darted into the mall to buy groceries. They raced by a teen-ager shop which was located to the right of the super-market. Jenny’s Mom wished it weren’t there. The manikins were all wearing the latest fashions for school, looking very cool and hip. Jenny Hey, wait a minute, Mom, I gotten see that. Hey, I gotta have that dress, it’s me! See, Mom, just wait one second. Mom I’m in a big hurry, Jenny I have to start dinner. Jenny Yeah but…look at that denim dress. Thirty-five bucks, Mom, can you believe it, thirty five bucharoonies! I got-tah have that dress. Mom (Sighing. It was hopeless when her daughter was on a roll like this.) “Very well, here’s 35 dollar but you’d better be right here when I get out or you can take the bus home.” Jenny Sure, Mom, it’ll take me one minute…size 7, age 11, that’s me. When she got home Jenny raced upstairs and spread it out on the bed. She didn’t need to even try it on. It would be very tight but perfect- to! Jenny Now I’ll just find a nice neat little place in my wardrobe for this super new cool dress and Opening the door to her closet she found a hanger for her new dress and when she did, another dress fell to the floor. It was identical to the one she just bought, except for a zipper pocket on the side. Jenny Oh dear, I forgot about this dress. I have so many… Oh gosh, it’s almost identical! I really didn’t need it. Maybe I’ll take the dress back but…so much trouble. Oh wow! She felt icky inside like she always did when she had too much chocolate. Jenny “Too much, too extravagant and I blow too much money and …” She took a deep breath. Last week at EHV we studied a thing called, ‘ceiling on desires.’ She didn’t get it then but…now she got it. Jenny “OK Swami, I’ll take the thing back,” she said, putting it back in the sack with the receipt! Ceiling on Desires This ceiling that I’m building Putting limits on desires I hope it’s strong enough To smother ego’s fires. ‘Cause when I try to stop ‘him’ He gets stubborn then Sometimes I simply have to wait For rebelliousness to end You see, I don’t need a thing But ego is soo needy If I were free then I could sing Instead of being greedy But I can win, I know I can For that is, our sweet Lord’I’ll put a ceiling on desires And take His precious hand. 84 Pink Ribbon Polly My Aunty Penny had sent me a really fantastic dress for Easter. It was a great color; sort of pinkish lavender, a little unusual…and then I noticed my older sister’s satin hair ribbon. It was tied in a permanent bow with streamers and it was the exact color. Polly Can I borrow your hair bow to wear Easter Sunday Sissy No you may not Polly Why, Sissy. Sissy Because you’ll get it messed up. I haven’t worn it myself yet and I think Dr. Jefferies is going to ask me to the hospital picnic in the Sunday after Easter. Polly But it matches my new dress perfectly. Sissy So what! Listen, Polly, you’ve got to learn to take no for an answer. You can’t have your way all the time. Also you should place a ceiling on your desires like Swami says. Polly Yeah well an you shouldn’t be possessive with your things. Sharing is caring, you know. All day at school I though about that pretty bow and how it would look in the back of my hair with my blond curls. Polly Sissy, if you’ll let me wear your hair ribbon on Easter, I’ll let you use my new Charlie perfume. Sissy No, Polly, the answer is no. Easter morning came and Sissy was asleep. She was nurse and she’d worked night shift and so she was dead to the world. I thought that I could sneak in, get the ribbon and have it back in her room by noon when church was over. She’d never know. When I lifted the bow off her dresser, though, she woke up. Sissy You little brat. Put it back! Hey, you’d better talk to Swami big time about how you tried to steal my hair bow. Shall I tell Mon? Poly God’s got more important things on his mind, than hair bows, Sissy, I said and flounced out of her room. I went to my room and took down the box from Aunty Penny. Then I realized how wrong I’d been and started to cry. I looked in the mirror and saw the cry-baby looking back at me. I knew that I was just acting. I wasn’t really even crying. Polly Oh Lord, I know how rotten I am. I’m really, really sorry. I wanted to wear that bow sooo bad I was willing to steal it …just a plain old hair ribbon and I was willing to throw out my conscious! Oh Lord! And then I cried so hard that I feel across the dress on the bed. Finally I got up and wiped my eyes and straightened the dress out. In the bottom of the box was a perfectly matched long piece of ribbon. It wasn’t as beautiful as Sissy’s but it was mine! I should have waited before acting like a big baby. That was when I sat down on my little altar in my room and wrote a letter to Swami…. “Dearest Lord, please teach me to be honest and strengthen my conscience.” Deep inside I hear the soft words…. “I am”.
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