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The Special One: A Short Story


Maitri Seth

It was nothing different from a regular day- Beautiful! Yes, every day, every second is beautiful, unless we fail to recognize its beauty. This is because every day starts with a new, fresh and a “clean-slate” morning- a clean slate where we draw our experiences with our own actions and what is formed, is our fate. Even that day, the canvas looked, sounded and felt pretty due to the lush green fields, birds chirping and the soothing wind respectively. But for us, it was even more special.

Me, and my siblings, Varun and Vrinda were born into a rural-based yet, affluent family. Our father was a farmer who owned acres of fields. I still remember relishing with my friends in those fields, all day. For me, even the DDLJ’s ‘Sarson Ke Khet’ belonged to my father! After all, I was just four, when the film had its release. I was brought up in a restricted yet fully facilitated environment.

We had never been to a movie theatre to watch films, but we had access to every kind of international market, even when it came to cinema. So, we were not much aware of the urban culture, but were never deprived of the facilities required. Still, we wanted to turn urban. French fries, pizzas, glossy roads and malls were our fascinations, but what we loved was the convent education provided in the cities. I wanted to learn and study in English. We, as I said before, had access to everything, including English books and movies to learn from, but, we didn’t have an ‘English-medium’ school nearby. Our father wanted us to study in our ‘village school’.

Now, there were several reasons associated with this. First, the nearest convent school was around 14 miles away from our village and there were no chances of my family to get settled anywhere in the city. Second, our father wanted us to stay with the family as he believed that family is the primary teacher to a child, especially when it comes to moral education. The third reason and the most important one was that my father had an inbuilt trust in our headmaster. According to him, he was the best teacher he had ever encountered. And a point to be noted here is that my father had gone to college!  But, his love for farming didn’t let him move to the city which consequently, became a major source of disappointment for his children in the future.

Also, he believed that an excessive availability of resources can spoil the child.  Hence, he was ready to provide us with any kind of study material but was not willing to send us to that convent school. On one hand, where I was a notorious but ambitious boy, Varun was extremely casual about every possible thing, except, food. And Vrinda was the most innocent, yet the most furious one in our family. But, irrespective of how different we were from each other, one thing which was common in the three of us, was the desire to achieve better education.

So, that day, after striving to our best to convince our father, which all went in vain, the three of us decided to walk on the path of rebellion. We decided to head towards our school and talk to our headmaster about the same. If he could convince our father, then well and good, else we would refuse to go to school. But, surprisingly, the headmaster, agreed.

He said,” OK, I’ll try to convince your father. But…”

Children hate ifs and buts!

“Meet me at the school ground today, at 2 o’clock sharp. I have something in store for you.”, he added.

And we happily agreed to all of his T&Cs.

As per the instructions, we reached the ground at 2:15 pm. The headmaster was already waiting for us, looking at his watch every few seconds. He first gave us a scary stare indicating that he was not much proud of our punctuality. And then, he narrated the upcoming task arranged especially for us.

“Let us play the ‘Treasure Hunt’ today.”, the headmaster said.

I was left astonished when he spoke,’ Treasure Hunt”.

“Now, listen to me carefully. Here are three different tracks available to you. Each one of you would follow a particular track. Every track has a hint kept on its way, which would lead you to the destination. You have to be back here within an hour.”, he instructed.

A ‘go’ was finally announced and we started with the games following the tracks. The tracks led us in different directions and we gradually disappeared from each other’s eyes. We were now standing outside the school premises. The track finally ended and each of us found a stone which was nothing more than weight to the piece of paper kept beneath it. It was written- “Find your treasure where the world finds its peace!” I had never been so puzzled in my entire life. Though, I tried my best to understand its meaning, but couldn’t get anything. So, after putting in much effort, I gave up and headed back towards the school.

On returning back, I found Varun already standing there. He told me that he came back within fifteen minutes as he found it boring and of no use. After a few minutes, I saw Vrinda coming, with a flag in her hand. It was her who won. And now, what held more importance was that how did she manage to win.

The headmaster came forward and said,” The three of you were given equal time and similar hints for the completion of the task. But, it was only Vrinda who understood the hint, reached the temple and managed to win. And this happened because both of you lacked one of those three qualities which were the deciding factors in the game- the three virtues of knowledge, belief and hard work. And all these qualities are led by the driving force-passion. “

 “All three of you were passionate enough because you had an aim. You wanted me to convince your father and that is why you wished to perform in this task. You also kept belief in yourself as passion establishes belief. Now, if we talk about Varun, he was learned enough to find his way to the destination but didn’t want to put enough effort into the game. Hence, due to his casual attitude and the lack of diligence, he lost it.”, he added.

“And what about me?”, I questioned.

“You were serious about the task, but wasn’t wise enough. And this was because, you have always dreamt of being at a better place, but never strived for it. You never tried to enhance your knowledge or improve yourself but were always complaining. Whereas Vrinda won because she was serious and diligent, unlike Varun and learned unlike you which indicates that if she dreams, she also chases them with her hard work and knowledge.”

He further added,” Children, my objective behind this task was to make you understand that your attitude towards learning is more important than the place where you learn. Even the best of institutions can not provide you with knowledge if you do not wish to accept it. And knowledge is the biggest power that a human possesses. So, wherever you go and whatever you study, if you dream big, then chase them too and learn, to Learn!”

It has been around twenty -five years since that incident took place. However, the headmaster’s words didn’t bring any change in our petition that day. My father was finally convinced by the headmaster and we were shifted to a day-boarding school in the city nearby. But, what changed was our attitude, which still makes me believe that it was a special day and, he was the best teacher I have ever encountered!  

If you liked the story let me know in the comments below.

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