150 rupees a year…

Received this from a friend:

I had an interesting human experience last week.

As I was leaving work on friday, around 11 pm in the night, I stopped at
the nearest signal. It had been a tiring day and I was really looking
forward to the weekend. There was a slight drizzle in the air. The
temperature was pleasant and cool. As I was waiting impatiently for the
green light, someone tapped me on the shoulder.

It was a young boy, around 12-13 years of age. He had a blue plastic
bucket in his hand and was smiling brightly. “Can you please drop me at
the next signal sir?” he asked me in chennai tamil.

I am not one to offer a lift in general but this one was a kid. So I
asked him to hop on. As we were driving towards the next signal, he
spoke all of a sudden.

“Sir, I sell murukku in Velachery. I just finished the day’s sales and
now I am going back home to study…”. I wondered why he told me that.
But I was touched by the fact that he was going back to study.
I liked his interest in studying.

I asked him, “Good. So, where is you house?”. “T.Nagar”.

Pretty close to my place. So as I drove past the next signal I told him,
“I will drop you there since I am going there as well”. I saw him smile
on the mirror. He said “Thanks”.

I asked him, “So where do you study?”. “Corporation school sir”. He
paused. “Sir, can I ask you a favor?”.

I thought this was another case where someone is going to ask me for
money. I hate it when that happens. I am paranoid enough to believe that
anyone who asks you money in the name of a favor is not being honest. I
like to help people not by giving them money but in kind.
I dont know why but I always have a suspicion about people who want only
money. My kind hearted nature has been taken advantage of too many times
for my comfort.

“My english teacher wants all of us to buy a workbook. But I dont have
the money to buy it… Can you please buy me that book? It costs only 30
rupees. I know a book store that I open at this time in the night.”
I was touched. Even before I could blink, I said, “Yes” and we started
driving towards the bookshop. On the way, I asked him, “So what do your
parents do?”.

“My dad lost his job last month. Since then he has been drinking all the
time. Even when he doesnt drink, his friends tempt him into a drink.
Whatever little he earns now, he spends it all drinking.

I have two sisters, one in the first standard and the other in the third
standard. He doesnt care about any of us. My mom works as a maid and
earns some money during the day. She then makes murukku in the afternoon
and given it to me when I some back from school. We manage to make some
money by selling it”.

“Do you get any time to study then?”
“Yes sir. I get up at 6 in the morning and get at least two hours to
study. 8 o clock I go to school and some back at 3 pm. My mom keeps the
murukku ready by that time. I take the bus to Velachery and sell it
everyday until 10 in the night. By the time I come back home its 11 o
clock. So, I get one more hour to study until I go to sleep at 12.”
I wasn’t speaking.

“I also study well sir. I get 2nd or 3rd rank always. Because I study
well, my teachers like me a lot. This year I could not pay the school
fees as we dont have the money. So I dont have the books or the uniform.
But they dont complain because they know I study properly. I manage to
borrow books and study.”

Just as he said that, we were at the bookshop. Unfortunately the
bookshop had just been closed. We went around the place looking for any
other shops that could be open but all were closed. I could see the
disappointment writ large on his face. I turned around and we were back
on the way to his house.

I felt a tinge of disappointment myself. Both of us did not speak for a
minute. Then, “How much is this year’s fees for you?”
In a low tone, he said, “hundred and fifty rupees sir”
For a moment, it could not believe it. I did not know that all that it
takes for a child to study for a whole year is a hundred and fifty
bucks. I spend that money everytime I order a pizza. I tip waiters that
much. The average drink in a swank pub costs that much, if not more.
Have I ever thought even once before splurging that money on the tip or
a pizza or a drink?

How many of us know that the little amount of a hundred and fifty bucks
can change a kid’s life for a whole year, if not his whole life?
I was lost in my own thoughts. The kid wasnt speaking either. Maybe he
was disappointed that he missed a good chance to get his book. We
reached a spot close to his house and I decided to drop him there.
As he got down, he said “thanks sir” and started walking. I pulled out
my wallet, called him and gave him 500 bucks. He was hesitant when he
saw the money but then smiled.

“Can I pay my school fees with this?” he said with a wide smile on his
face. I said yes and before he could say a word, drove away. I was
smiling from within. Somehow I felt, this money is going to play its
part in making a boy’s life.