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My determination was strong and the target was right in front of me. With all my zeal and concentration, I hit the target. And bang on! I had hit the bull’s eye. The stone that I had aimed at the Guava hit it well and it fell in the hands of my little sibling standing right below the guava to take the catch. “Yippee!”, we all shouted, but then quickly went quite in fear of being heard by the ‘old man’. “Drop the guavas there all at once!”, echoed a voice from behind, and all of us froze.
We were a group of 6-7 children in the neighborhood and were quietly stealing guavas from the tree of that ‘old man’. He was an aged man who lived alone and was seldom seen speaking to anyone. We kids found him very rude and scary, but our interest lay in the lovely trees of guavas and mangoes in his garden, and after eyeing those delicious fruits for some time now, we all finally decided to lay our hands on them.
Plans were proposed and strategies were made, and then finally came the day when we decided to execute our mission. It was a Sunday afternoon and the whole family was watching a popular Sunday soap. All of us stealthily sneaked out of our houses and gathered near the boundary of the old man’s house. And since I was the eldest, the task of plucking the guavas by hitting them, lay upon my shoulders.
We had collected around 12 guavas when this catastrophe struck us.
The person standing right behind me was my mother and after not finding any of the children at home for a while, had come out looking for us. So when we first realized that we had been caught, we were dumbstruck for a moment but then ran off(with the guavas of course), also dragging along our toddler siblings who had not even learned to walk properly. But alas, we were caught. My mother took all 7 of us to the old man’s house, returned the guavas and made us apologize.
The old man did not say anything and just nodded. We all returned. None of us were ashamed at what we had done and were extremely angry. Finally, my mother called us and made us sit beside her. And then she said” I see that none of you seem to be ashamed of yourselves, isn’t that true”, ”no we are not, we just wanted the guavas”, I replied in anger,” but you should not have stolen them, you could have asked for them”. “Asked for them?!?” from that man, ”oh no, he would not have given us, I’m sure”, I said.”Try once”, my mom said and went away.
The urge to eat the guavas had not diminished a bit. So the next day we went to the old man’s doorstep and thought of applying mom’s formula. We gathered our might and finally after 2 minutes of pondering, pressed the doorbell.
The old man was at the door himself. The first thought was obviously to run away, but the thought of eating the luscious looking guavas was so tempting that we finally asked in unison, ”Uncle please may we have some guavas?”, Of course, why not”, came the reply.
We could not believe it. And then we all realized our mistake. We were extremely ashamed of ourselves for that act of stealing, and from that day, the old man became ‘uncle’ and a very good friend of ours. We visited him each day and he sat there waiting for us with a basket full of guavas.
We often make a misconception about people without knowing their side of the story. This incident taught me a few things. Firstly, do not make opinions about people on baseless assumptions, and secondly learn to ‘ask’. The art is about commanding and not demanding that which is not yours. Children, if guided well, will realize their mistakes on time and take the right path of action.