Just Emkaying: TSB 3 A lesson in kindness

Feb 15, 2009

TSB 3 A lesson in kindness

Every morning I used to wake up, only to hope that I would be alone in my room. That I could have the peaceful beginning to the morning. There were three of us sharing the room, and as usual and luckily for mr Murali wouldnt be home the previous night.

As the early morning chill wafted in through the windows, I could hear the kids getting ready for school in my neighbours place. The Kannada daily would be at our doorstep, and I'd read it like there was nothing better I could do at that point of time, scanning the papers for a part time job. A part time job that would take away the extra hours of my life which I spent after college, listening and bearing constant rebukes and taunts from people I had once considered my own.

As luck would have it, I couldnt find any job. After a quick blast from the icy cold shower, I'd grab a bite and leave for college, deliberately timed to reach exactly a minute after the first hour bell would ring. I would sit at the last bench, silently ignoring the snickers and jibes. I spent all the intervals rushing to the library, scanning for imaginary books and pretending to have become studious. In the rare event I did speak to someone, it would be the guys from the front benches, the nerds as I had once termed them. They were completley oblivious to the circumstances I was in

I realized in such times that these nerds were also people. People with feelings. I realized how it felt to be singled out. We never mingled with the front benchers. But as I spoke to them with a faint hope of forgiveness from a higher authority, I knew my eyes were opened to all the people around me, and all my prejudices were leaving me.

One of my conversations was a real eye opener

Raesh ( a nice chap, although a bit over the top for examination preparation) : Hi, how come your in the library?

Me: Well I was searching for Business studies by Raghuram(I was bluffing. I never heard of a Raghuram, and I hardly knew if I had business studies that sem)

Ramesh: Oh, Is that in our syllabus?

Me: I wanted some general information. And are you searching for something

Ramesh: Ya I came to borrow some extra books, for last years paper reports. I have some prep Questions, you can have them if you like

It wasn't the first time a front bencher had offered help. They always did. I had considered it a desperate plea from them to be accepted as part of the more regular crowd. 

Me : uh, I don know. I hardly prepare so early. Maybe you should carry on.

Ramesh : Ya sure. I'll catch ya around

I burried my head into the magazines in front of me, avoiding all eye contact with anyone around. A few minute later Raghu was back.

Ramesh : Hey here take this...(he handed me a book, and believe me it was a Business Studies text book, written by Raghuram!!!)

Me: Hey, where did you find it? (was all I could mumble, shocked that there even was such a book)

Ramesh: Well it was in the aisle next to the history section. Guess it was misplaced.

Me : Gee thanks. 

Ramesh : No big deal. And here are the prep questions, I got an extra copy. Keep them in case you might need them.

Me: Uh Okay. 

I took in how Ramesh was at that moment. Coming from a poor background, he was struggling to get a scholarship that would take care of his education. He had a chappal on, a neatly pressed yellow shirt which wasnt tucked in to his dark brown pant. A combination enough to make him a butt of many a joke. 

His hair shone brightly, the crop was flat with oil splashed on in generous quanitites.

Just then, the Librarian turned up behind him. 

Librarian : "Ramesh!!! Were are the books you borrowed last week? You havent even paid up the late fees for the outstanding books. Plus you put another book on your tab today? I am stopping all your books today, until you return the books and pay up your dues."

Ramesh: Sir, please. I will pay up in a week. Sir Please dont stop my book loans. I cant get through my exams withought it.

Librarian: No. I need the fees today. Else you can give back the books. You will also take any more books on payment, till you return the books you borrowed.

Ramesh was on the verge of tears. I didnt want to interfere.

Ramesh: Sir please. I will pay what I have now. And return the books in a week. I need to copy some more pages.

Librarian: No. The money today and the books tommorrow. Else you can meet the principal and sort the issue.

Ramesh was now in sobs. He pulled out his pocket notepad. In between those soiled pages, was a carefully folded ten rupee note. Most probably his lunch money. He handed them to the librarian, who entered it in his book register. He handed him a two rupee coin back.

Ramesh: Sir I have borrowed one more book. Please let me have it for today.

Librarian: Am sorry Ramesh. But I cant do that. Please get the pending books tommorrow. And you can borrow any book tommorrow. Else pay up now for the book you want to have.

By now I was bored of this conversation. I had enough to think about than worry about Ramesh and his problems. I went back to my magazine. In a few minutes I saw Ramesh leave, his chappals slapping across the floor tiles.

It was almost time to leave. I picked up the book Ramesh had given me and walked over to register it. The Librarian gave me a look that resembled that of an alien. I was somewhat of an alien to this archive of books. I ignored him as I picked up the register.

I searched for book's reference card but it was already removed. I checked with the Librarian. He went in to check if the reference card and indeed been registered already.

I turned the pages lazily, and saw Ramesh's account. It had dues to the tune of almost every book for that semester. I always thought these guys were nerds, but It became clear to me that It wasn't extra books they wanted. They just couldnt afford their own copies. Every mad dash to the Library was their effort at securing a book for themselves, out of the limited copies. It was their only hope of being able to cope. As I scrolled down, I saw "Business Studies- Raghuram"
scribbled. He mus have taken a copy for himself, hearing about it from me.

The Librarian came out- "Fancy that! The book has been registered in your name!"

Ramesh had registered the book in my name. He got the book for me. 

It took some time to sink in.

I thought of the Innumerous times Ramesh must of felt the pang of having to return a book to the library when the exams were around the corner. He'd just copy the entire book by hand, because he couldnt afford a photo copy. And he'd never want someone to feel what he felt. So he never took the book from me. He just paid up whatever he had left so that I, a no good useless fellow, who hardly knew such a book existed could have the peace of "studying" without any hassels.

I walked out as fast as I could. The tears were running now. I wasnt sure if it were for Raghu's kindness or for my stupidity. I was bearing a cross which wasnt mine to bear, but in the process I was realizing how blind and naive I was, and the extent of the ignorance my ego had brought upon me.

No comments:

Post a Comment