There was a dirty girl in a school who always wore the same dirty dress, the same dirty hair from a dirty home and a dirty poor neighborhood. And the nice and prissy teacher comes along and gifts her a little blue dress, washes her up and tells her how pretty she looks, etc, etc. And then the girl starts washing up every day, her mum watches the difference, she washes up the home, linen, etc. The dad fixes the roof and white washes the fence, the neighbors follow the trend and they all look up to newer avenues for better living.
The change always begins with you. (and no, I haven’t gotten anywhere close yet! Yeah, I know you know. Shut up!)
Crooked people, crooked faces
Don’t remember the name of this lesson but do remember the illustration of this girl who was the prettiest ever but starts losing her beauty in steps when she slowly becomes evil. Good thoughts and good deeds beget beauty and charm. Still totally believe it, and see it in so many good people around me.
This was in the tenth I think. It was hilarious with all the monkeys combing each other of lice being assimilated to human interactions about weather and such small talk. No morals learnt here but it was hilarious all the same!!!
The essay on Gerald Durrell
This was in the eighth, I think. No I didn’t know about animal rights before that. I didn’t know how ‘humane treatment’ and slaughterhouses come in the same context. My first revelation into the world of animal cruelty. And I absolutely adored Durrell. He was passionate and dispassionate at the same time. He had compassion and he worked all his life towards conservation but apparently he never had a pet and was never all about molly-coddling animals. It was and still is quite a revelation that strength lies in the head that is calm and right. Passion is good as long as it doesn’t overwhelm your entire sense of being. At the end of the day, no event, possession, achievement or cause is bigger than you or your existence. Only got one life!
I wrote to the Durrell Foundation back then and received a pile of brochures and a request for donation. Figured I would put in all my pocket money and convert that into pounds and send in the pittance. But I felt too old for piggy bank contributions and dropped out.
Christiaan Bernard’s Essay in ninth
These lines come to me every time the shrieky voice in my head yells out, ‘why is this happening to me!!!’
You don’t become a better person because you are suffering; but you become a better person because you have experienced suffering. We can’t appreciate light if we haven’t known darkness. Nor can we appreciate warmth if we have never suffered cold.
This essay comes really made a lot of difference in the way I look at things. And if it weren’t for school, it wouldn’t have been the same. Because, now I’d Google Bernard and find out he had three wives (one of them figured in the essay in the context of a horrible accident) and he cheated all the time, blah blah blah and think, ‘This guy? Giving me lessons on life??’ Nobody is perfect, but their imperfections do not malign their greatness. It’s a fact.
Moral Science! Yeah I know I took you lightly because you didn’t help the grades but I did listen to you! Not then but at several important junctures in my life. And I love you Dayanand Saraswati. Too bad you weren’t much of a looker and…ahem…that I don’t remember anything about you, but I know your lessons are in my mind (some place deep, really deeeeeeep) and have shaped my character.
They come to me in flashes. All the lessons from childhood, helping me relax, nudging me towards the right path, abetting my confusion (a little) and I can’t help but wonder what have I missed all those times I dozed off unabashedly sitting in the front row!
What lessons spring to your mind when you read this? I'd love to know!