Raghu was the only son of a rather well-off family. His father was into district administration and money was never a problem. Raghu mostly got what he wanted. Being the only kid in the family, his demands were immediately fulfilled. Seeing a Microsoft X-Box in one of his friend’s house, he was pestering his parents to buy him a Sony Play Station II. He was so impressed by it that he wanted it pretty badly. Not that they didn’t have the money, but his parents wanted to bargain with him. He had to get the first rank in the quarterly examinations to get his Sony Play Station II. That was the deal. He was one among the top ten students in the class, but that was just not enough.
Sudha was of the same class as Raghu. Both were studying their fifth standard in a Government Central Board School. But Sudha was from a poor family. She had two elder brothers and one younger sister. Since her fathers income was not enough to manage such a big family, her mother used to help him by selling knitted jasmine flowers near the temple. But during the evening time, the crowd was particularly heavy and hence Sudha would go with her mother. She would do the knitting and her mother would do the selling. This happened from five to eight thirty in the evenings, daily. But this was the time she used to study her lessons – until last year. Her academic performance this year, was predictably lagging.
Both Raghu and Sudha had one common passion – Painting. There was a painting competition held in their school in which all the primary classes participated to exhibit their talent. The prize money was sponsored for this event by some trust, but the school didn’t believe in just giving the money to the kids. So, they devised a procedure – The first prize winner would receive fifty rupees per week, on Saturday. They had to go to the nearby post office and deposit the money on the same day and hand over a copy of the receipt to the class teacher. The school deliberately did this to inculcate the habit of savings in the kids. They wanted to create an example with the winner to other kids. But all the money was sponsored only to the first prize winner. And he could take it only after a year of savings in the post office account opened by their school.
Raghu thought about the prize money. If he gets the prize, he calculated, how many months would it take for him to buy a Sony Play Station II? The results were not very encouraging. By the time he would be able to save enough money, the model may not even exist. He wanted the Play Station II now.
Sudha also thought about the prize money. She was imagining the possibilities. If she was able to get fifty rupees a week, in a year, she could make a huge sum. She had learnt Simple Interest recently. So, when she was informed that they would be offering an interest of 8% a year, she was able to calculate the interest amount too. Wow. That was a lot of money. She was juggling her priorities.
There was some thing that Raghu was thinking about – He had already been getting a pocket money of fifty rupees per day (Being in the senior most section of the primary, he had a lot of expenditures). Besides, Saturday evenings were spent happily playing his favorite game – Cricket. He had not missed a single match until then. If he had to collect that fifty rupees every Saturday afternoon, walk to the post office, stand in the queue, make the payment and get the receipt, file it and then go to play, there would not be much time left before the sun comes down. Besides, if he pestered his parents enough, he might still get the Play Station II even if he did not get the first rank. Well 10 was very close to 1, after all!
The principal asked him – “Do you accept the terms and procedures for receiving the prize money or do we give it to Sudha, the second prize winner in the painting competition?”
It took only two minutes for him to take a decision. “Give it to anyone” he said.
Sudha was over-joyed. She would indeed get the money at last! She was thinking about all the possibilities. She would give the entire money to her parents. She would request only one thing in return – To allow her to study in the weekdays instead of knitting jasmines for her mother. She might be able to complete a college degree some day! She was beaming when she told about the whole thing to her parents. Could she stay back and study on the weekdays, she asked.
Her father replied to her mother: “See what a bargain she wants to strike. That too at such a young age! That’s why I asked you not to let the girls study. You would never listen. Well, how about this bargain – She’ll give all the money to us after one year and work in the evenings or she’ll not go to the school anymore”
It took only two minutes for all her dreams to get completely shattered.
PS: The video at the beginning of the post was made by the colleague of a friend who works for a software company in Bangalore who worked extensively on Saturdays and Sundays with a team of friends to make it. The video even got a mention in “The Hindu”. This is the link to their website: http://www.pukar-dias.com/