Thursday, June 23, 2011

Never let the curse of the poor fall on you!!!!

This is an incident which disturbed me very deeply.

The higher secondary admissions are going on for the past few days. Since Monday I have been seeing a mother coming to school regularly for her son’s admission. The boy had secured very low marks and he did find a place in neither the allotment list nor the community quota. She is a very poor, widowed fishmonger. The first time she came into the office (she literally barged in), there was a whiff of foul odour. It was then I noticed her She was dressed in a lungi and a blouse. She was a dark, oily skinned, muscular woman with scales of fishes here and there on her hair and arms. It looked as though she had come straight from the market even without washing herself.

“Ente mon pathaam class vere ivied padichatha. Avanu seat illa enu” (“My son studied here till class X. It seems he doesn’t have a seat”), she said in a high-pitched irritated voice.

The Principal told her mildly that her son had low grades and it was not possible to admit him as his rank was very low in the community waiting list. This provoked the mother and she started arguing saying that he should be admitted as he did secure admission elsewhere. As she was illiterate and ignorant about the admission procedures we thought it was best to follow the principle - silence is golden, if not it would be ‘injurious to our health’.

One of the teachers pacified her and asked to wait for a few more days. Since then, every afternoon she would come after her work and wait patiently outside the office till 4:00pm. Then she would beg for a seat. I felt sorry for her but there was nothing we would do to help her. She would go back weeping and I would feel very miserable. She said her husband had died and she was the sole earning member of her family. She had a son and a daughter who were students.

Last evening the Principal told her to contact the manager of the school as he was the only person who could help her. Today, she back by noon weeping bitterly. She wanted to borrow money from the Principal. It seems the manager wanted a hefty sum (in five figures for Class XI admission!!!!) as donation for her son’s admission. I was shocked to see the mother begging for the money. She was weeping, wiping her tears and talking and sighing. She said that she would return the money by evening. Our Principal was good enough to lend her the sum.

The mother did keep her promise and came back at 3:15pm and returned the sum she had borrowed. She pawned her daughter’s earrings and borrowed the rest from someone to raise this money. She said that in spite of telling the priest her background, he was adamant that this mother had to pay the sum for her son’s admission. I was irritated when I heard that. Majority of priests in our management are children of the fishermen community and they come from very poor backgrounds. It is sad that they forget their past once they become a priest. They forget that their parents too must have wept in front of others for money and they also forget the vow of poverty that they took.

What is the point of managing church school if it is not for the upliftment of the poor and needy????? We need humane priests and not ‘Shylock s’. I am sure that the tears this mother will definitely be a curse this priest.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Today is the third week of June, and it is being celebrated as the Father’s Day. In the morning as I was going through ‘The Hindu’, I happened to see two articles about the love of fathers. It was only then I remembered that it was a day for fathers. My daughter wished my husband a happy Father’s Day and turned to me and asked, “Did you wish ‘your father’????????

“Ah, no”, I replied casually.

I did not wish my Dad as it was not prevalent in our times and I have never wished him till date. Why should I wish him????? Was I ever close to him?????? I thought about my father for sometime.

My Dad is a self- made man. He has no great lineage to claim of. He went abroad at a very young age and it was from there he made his fortune. He studied abroad for a while before he started working.

He was a man of good looks. He was handsome and used to look like one of the film stars of the yesteryear s. Thanks to his good looks, he never had a dearth for women. He loved good food and strongly believed in the principle, “variety is the spice of life.” Whatever be his vices, we never lacked in anything. He gave us(children) all that we wanted. At some point of time, we were sent to India. It was from then on we started drifting away from him.

When he came back to India to settle down, I had great difficulty in adjusting with him. I was closer to my mum and so were my brother and sister. My Dad used to get irritated with us. He was very particular about our studies. He spent lakhs of rupees on our education. He used to strut around saying that his children were highly qualified. (He had no idea that people in Kerala were highly educated!!!!!)

He was an unsuccessful businessman. He lost most of his money in unwise business. He used to believe every Tom, Dick and Harry. It took sometime for him to realize that he was bankrupt. Now, the once millionaire is in his ripe old age is living at the mercy of his children.

Though I am not very close to my Dad, I quite often think that it was just because of him that I could enjoy the entire good thing in life. At the time when not much people knew about Chanel or Christian Dior or Elizabeth Arden, we had those beauty products and perfumes. He always believed in quality. When I passed my Class IX, my Dad presented me with a Longines watch. I never knew the value of the watch. Though my Dad told me it was an expensive watch and it was made of 18K gold, I never believed him. I only knew about Rolex, Omega, Citizen and Seiko but not a Longines. I behaved like a step mother and treated the watch badly. I took care of my Seiko watch but never did I care about this Longines. It was only a decade ago that I knew about the cost of Longines. It was then I realized that what Dad had said was true.

It is only because of my Dad that I’m enjoying all good things in life. Though I like him at heart, it is very difficult for me to show him my love and concern. At times I feel that I should come out of this mental block, but some how it doesn’t work for me. I am not sure how long he may live. I hope I can be my natural self with Dad. Though Father's Day is a creation of card companies, I think it is a good idea. At least once in a way we can think about our fathers fondly.