Year – Circa late 1930s.
Location – A little village in Tamil Nadu, South India
Time – A humid and sunny afternoon
My grandfather (in his teens) is leisurely strolling on a dirt path whistling to himself while munching on some wild gooseberries. In the distance, he can make out the figure of my great-grandfather working hard in the lush green fields. As my grandfather approaches his father, he happens to look up from his backbreaking work to wipe his sweating brow and spots my grandfather walking towards him. Seeing his father catch him, my grandfather stops dead in his tracks. A few silent moments of intense eye contact and deadpan silence pass before my great-grandfather shouts at my grandfather, “What are you doing back here? Why aren’t you at college?” Not having a valid reason for his absence from college, my grandfather starts to stutter but before he manages to form a coherent sentence, my great-grandfather picks up the nearest stone roughly the size of a coconut and menacingly yells back “Run back to college you lazy boy! Don’t you dare step back into the village until you have finished your degree or I’ll smash your head in with this stone!”
And with that statement, my grandfather did not stop to think. He dropped his berries, turned around and ran back to the college as fast as his legs could take him, fearing for his life. He did not dare look back until he reached the bounds of the village and then continued walking towards college with vivid thoughts about what just happened racing through his head. While the morality and righteousness of my great-grandfather’s method can be discussed for days on end, one thing cannot be refuted – crude as it may be, it was definitely an effective method. My grandfather successfully finished his education, having passed that moment of self doubt with his father’s assistance and eventually became the headmaster of the local school.
His relatively high level of education in the village led him to encourage my father to pursue a good education which has eventually led to me being the person I am today. I know what you are thinking now. Kishor, you cannot realistically attribute the sequence of events that have happened since to that single rock. And I agree with you. But I also think that had my great-grandfather not picked up that rock at that very moment and threatened my grandfather with dire consequences, life could have turned very different for everyone in my bloodline. My grandfather would have taken up an agricultural job as would have my father and maybe even me too. Our generation may have never been able to travel the world, do our duty and be grateful for the good health and comfortable life that we are blessed with today. Or worse, I could very possibly never have been born. Fortunately, things turned out the way they did and things will continue to happen in ways that will mystify us. Such is life and it is up to all of us to embrace the challenges it brings, keep fighting and never stop learning,
Currently listening to – All These Things That I’ve Done by The Killers