Big lessons from little masters

Big lessons from little masters

A guide and a handbook were different, he said wittily, and that he was selling the latter.

A few days ago, while touring North Karnataka, I acquainted myself with a little boy who was pestering me to buy the book he was vending near the portals of Badami caves.

The heat was excruciating, all my fellow tourists had moved further, but the boy wouldn’t let me go. I had a historical tour guide that I had purchased at Pattadakal and was trying to convince him that I already had one. But, to my dismay, he wittily replied that a guide and a handbook were different and that he was selling the latter.

He also told me that with the money he earned by selling the books, he would purchase school stationary like books and pencils, which he was in dire need of. I was distraught. My heart sank upon hearing the little boy’s words, and without any second thought, I bought two books from him.

After visiting the cave temples, we were heading towards the bus, when I was startled to see the same boy annoying an elderly man to buy a few books. I slowed down my pace, curious to know how he would convince that person.

When the elderly man began to express his displeasure, the little boy told him that he hadn’t eaten all day long and that he was extremely hungry. His meagre earning would fetch him a meal. Unsurprisingly, the old man stuck on. I couldn’t help but notice the wit the boy displayed in convincing his customers and his remarkable acting skills.

An important thing to be noted here, however, is that the boy literally had to beg and persuade people to help him make a living. The abysmal conditions in which most of our country’s children are born and raised make us feel really sad and helpless given the opportunities they will miss later in life.

Recently, when I was travelling by a BMTC bus, at a stop near a government school children came storming in and occupied, adjusted, and squeezed themselves into the seats. Some boys with their trousers torn, girls with their socks worn out because of their anklets, some trying to communicate with their mates hidden by other commuters, one rehearsing his rhyme and the other dozing, a few counting the number of cars in the traffic, while some busy counting coins to pay the conductor with another one reminding “half ticket” — all these snippets made me look for something common among them: a smile, yes.

We are so often lost in the complex labyrinth of our thoughts and are forever struggling to find an escape. In the process, however, we stray so far as to think, overthink, cry and brood over the same problem time and again. But not children, who live in the moment and learn to make the most of it. No wonder self-help guru Jess Lair quoted, “Children are not things to be moulded but people to be unfolded.” There’s certainly a lot to learn from children.

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