Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What is LOVE?

When we open our "Inbox" we often find a number of unwanted messages and forwards.  Many of them are deleted even before opening them because we have no time to read them.  And also the perennial fear of viruses.   We may also curse senders of such messages while unceremoniously deleting them.   Of course, others may also be cursing us for similar reasons at the same time.   One good thing about the old mail system was that the sender had to pay postage.  Unfortunately, even that constraint is not there now.

It is not always unwanted stuff alone.   Sometimes we do get meaningful and informative matter also.  These messages or stories are left in the "Inbox" for future reference.   One office had a lot of old records occupying large volume of space.   In-charge of the office wanted to destroy the papers to make way for future incoming papers.   He wrote to the higher authorities seeking permission to destroy the old papers.  He knew the requirements of bureaucracy for approving such requests as he himself was earlier working in the higher office and remembered how he was treating such requests when sitting at the other end.   He made a proper report with details of why the papers were not required and why their destruction was necessary.   Enclosing therewith details of papers to be destroyed, period-wise as well as subject-wise.   The voluminous report and the request was duly received at the higher office.   As is their practice, the higher office wanted to reject the request and close the matter.   But the reference was not providing any scope for rejection.  Higher office approved destruction of all unwanted records, as there was no alternative, subject to two conditions.   First, to destroy only unwanted papers after keeping a photocopy of all such papers safely for future reference.   Second, to keep the expenditure for photocopying at the minimum and allotting the work to lowest bidder after obtaining competitive quotations.   The lower office  rued the action of making reference for destruction.   They could not keep quiet also; there would be regular reminders for confirmation of compliance of approval already issued!

This is a story I received as a "forward" six years ago.  It was safely hibernating in the "Inbox".   I do not know the author or where was it published.  I am repeating it as I have received it.

"How long will you be poring over that newspaper? Will you come here right away and make your darling daughter eat her food?"

I tossed the paper away and rushed to the scene.  My only daughter Sindhu looked frightened.  Tears were welling up in her eyes.  In front of her was a bowl filled to its brim with Curd Rice.

Sindhu is a nice child, quite intelligent for her age.  She had just turned eight.  She particularly detested Curd Rice.   My mother and my wife are orthodox, and believe firmly in the 'cooling effects' of Curd Rice!   I cleared my throat, and picked up the bowl.   "Sindhu darling, why don't you take a few mouthful of this Curd Rice?   Just for Dad's sake, dear.  And, if you don't, your Mom will shout at me"

I could sense my wife's scowl behind my back.  Sindhu softened a bit, and wiped her tears with the back of her hands. "OK, Dad. I will eat - not just a few mouthfuls, but the whole lot of this.  But, you should...' Sindhu hesitated.  "Dad, if I eat this entire Curd Rice, will you give me whatever I ask for?"
"Oh sure, darling".
"Promise".   I covered the pink soft hand extended by my daughter with mine, and clinched the deal.
"Ask Mom also to give a similar promise", my daughter insisted.  My wife slapped her hand on Sindhu's, muttering "Promise", without any emotion.

Now I became a bit anxious.  "Sindumma, you shouldn't insist on getting a computer or any such expensive items. Dad does not have that kind of money right now. OK?"
"No, Dad. I do not want anything expensive".  Slowly and painfully, she finished eating the whole quantity of curd rice.  I was silently angry with my wife and my mother for forcing my child eat something that she detested.
After the ordeal was through, Sindhu came to me with her eyes wide with expectation. All our attention was on her. "Dad, I want to have my head shaved off, this Sunday!" was her demand!

"Atrocious!" shouted my wife, "a girl child having her head shaved off? Impossible!"
"Never in our family!" my mother rasped.  "She has been watching too much of television. Our culture is getting totally spoiled with these TV programs!"

"Sindhumma, why don't you ask for something else?  We will be sad seeing you with a clean-shaven head"
"No, Dad.  I do not want anything else", Sindhu said with finality.

"Please, Sindhu, why don't you try to understand our feelings?",  I tried to plead with her.

"Dad, you saw how difficult it was for me to eat that Curd Rice", Sindhu was in tears.   "And you promised to grant me whatever I ask for.  Now, you are going back on your words.  Was it not you who told me the story of King Harishchandra, and its moral that we should honour our promises no matter what?"

It was time for me to call the shots.  Our promise must be kept.
"Are you out your mind?" chorused my mother and wife.
"No. If we go back on our promises, she will never learn to honour her own.  Sindhu, your wish will be fulfilled."

With her head clean-shaven, Sindhu had a round-face, and her eyes looked big & beautiful.

On Monday morning, I dropped her at her school.  It was a sight to watch my hairless Sindhu walking towards her classroom.   She turned around and waved.  I waved back with a smile.  Just then, a boy alighted from a car, and shouted, "Sindhuja, please wait for me!"

What struck me was the hairless head of that boy. "May be, that is the in-stuff, "I thought.

"Sir, your daughter Sindhuja is great indeed!"  Without introducing herself, a lady got out of the car, and continued, "That boy who is walking along with your daughter is my son Harish.   He is suffering from ... ... leukemia."

She paused to muffle her sobs.   "Harish could not attend the school for the whole of the last month. He lost all his hair due to the side effects of the chemotherapy.  He refused to come back to school fearing the unintentional but cruel teasing of the schoolmates.  Sindhuja visited him last week, and promised him that she will take care of the teasing issue.  But, I never imagined she would sacrifice her lovely hair for the sake of my son!   Sir, you and your wife are blessed to have such a noble child as your daughter".

I stood transfixed.  And then, I wept.  "My little Angel, will you grant me a boon?  Should there be another birth for me, will you be my mother, and teach me what Love is ........!!!!!!!!!!?"


I considered this  "Forward" received six years ago, as worth saving and sharing.  Do you?


  1. The story is definitely worth sharing and shall do so. Not only the value of love is taught but also concern to others' feelings.