It was our holiday vacations and we were sent to see our grandfather in a small town named Hirapur, in Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh. Its a very small town with a very few residents. Grandpaa had a big house, it was kind of a Kothi, and was much more than enough for just grandpaa to live in it. We tried to call him here in the city to live with us but he didn't want to leave grandmaa's memories which that old house yet beholds. The kothi was surrounded by a large plain area, where a cricket match could be easily played, yet no one ever attempted to do this, because of the owner's bad temper. To serve grandpaa and take care of the big house there were only two servants, Ramdulari kaki and Shambhu kaka, the old couple has devoted their lives to serve their master with full loyalty and honesty.
One day I noticed that they brought with them a kid of 12 or 13 years, which they left outside to play in the corridor and the ground. He used to sit in the chair for few hours, doing something in his rough notebook, which had no cover at all. Then he used to sit on or sometimes under the big banyan tree located on the northern boundary of the ground. Sometimes he draw some patterns on ground with a stick. I used to observe him all day from my room's window and had always wished to go and see what he was drawing, but I didn't as grandpaa told us not to talk to anyone outside the house, and specially the kids as they are uncontrollably mischievous. One evening when I woke up from my afternoon nap I noticed that grandpaa and my brother were not at home and kaka-kaki were busy in their usual work routine, I made up my mind and sneaked out of the house to see what that boy drew on ground. When I reached the location I was completely amazed. It was his routine from morning till bed time, and was drawn in a incredible manner, I was awestruck on seeing such talent, when I hear a voice from behind.
"Apko ye pasand aaya didi?" (Do you like it sister?)
"Haan bahut jyada, kahan se seekha tumne ye sab banaya?" (From where did you learn to draw these things?)
"Hahaha, kisi se nahi didi, maine khud hi seekh liya hai. Aap aur dekhogi?" (Hahaha, no one didi, I learned it from myself, do you wanna see more?)
He ran toward the corridor and brought his rough copy. He was a true genius. He had drawn so many stories in that rough notebook, and with such a beauty. Till then I was completely impressed by his talent.
"Ye sabhi bahut sundar hain. Tumhara naam kya hai beta?" (These all are very beautiful. What is your name kid?)
"Sundar." he uttered shyly.
"Acha Sundar, tum school kyun nahi jaate din bhar yahan kyun khelte rehte ho?" (Why don't you go to school Sundar? Why do you play here all day?)
I noticed that my question made him a little sad, though he replied, "Jaana chahta hun par maa nahi bhejti, didi ki shaadi karni hai to paise jodne hain unhe, kahti hain uske baad bhejengi." (I want to go, but my mother doesn't send me, they have to marry my sister for which they are collecting money, after that I will go.)
I was in a shock and was disappointed too. One side I was seeing the curiosity of learning things in Sundar's shining eyes, who also had a God gift of that abundant talent, that just needed to be molded in right direction, and on the other hand I was feeling my own helplessness about not being any help to him. But somehow I was determined, I have to do something for him.
I decided I would teach Sundar as much as I could and then I would show his parents what a gem they got. Next morning I tried to talk to grandpaa about this, but he refused to listen anything about Sundar. For him Sundar is nothing but a pain in ass. He totally rejected the idea of bringing Sundar inside the house, so I proposed the idea if he couldn't come in, I will go outside and teach him. Grandpaa was flabbergasted by the compassion of his 15 years old granddaughter toward Sundar, but this time I was determined, I was not ready to come back with a 'No', I explained him why I wanted to do this, I had faith in my wish, as I know this is for something really good and worth doing for, and he finally nodded his head in a yes.
Now the real test had began. I had taken a responsibility of polishing someone's life and I was determined to do my best. That whole vacation I taught Sundar as much as I could, but what he taught me was peerless. He taught me about the real life, the real struggle and suffering of mankind. He introduced me with a new gesture of love and respect. His innocent talks and question made me ponder about my own life and my own world, and as a result, at that small teenage, I came to know what I actually wanted to do in my life, and more important he kindled a faith that if you believe in yourself, if you are honest to yourself, nothing can stop you.
I don't know whether this story is about my compassion toward Sundar, or his kindness toward a literate urban girl, to whom he showed her own real world; whether it is about my respect for my elders, by not doing anything until they are convinced or his honesty toward my efforts. But for sure it is definitely the story of our integrity, whose fulcrum is our charismatic life today.
When I last met Sundar he was going through his 10th board exams, I was exultant upon his progress. He was an ideal for many kids like him, who have the zeal but lack resources. But I'm sure wherever he is, he might be creating new zenith in his life. There are so many Sundars, we see in our daily life, but we just passes by, they expect nothing from us, but just a little encouragement.