I was always late to school. There is no denying the fact, no escaping the truth. My mom was a teacher there and she had a really tough time getting me ready to school, what with cooking food for us and she herself getting ready. And I had a penchant for losing my bus passes. I guess I would have lost at least three of them. It frustrated my dad so much that he stapled it to the front cover of my mathematics text book. Of course I had forgotten to take the text book with me.
I started going to my school alone on my own from my sixth class. My mom used to come a bit later than me. Did I feel awkward if I was found travelling with my mom, hmmm….. I think not much. Except for the thought that I would be looking like a kid and so I started out going alone to school, but I guess thats quite normal. I sometimes used to go to school with my brother, who was elder to me by 4 1/2 years, but it was only occasionally. I now can’t remember why the both of us never used to go together! Maybe it is because by the time I started to go to secondary classes, he was almost out of them. Anyway I was travelling alone on one such day when I had forgotten my bus pass and didn’t have money in my pocket. The minute the bus conductor had asked me to show my bus pass, I searched and found I didn’t have it on me. I panicked. I rummaged through my back, upturned all my books and poured out all the contents of my school bag pockets, but nothing came up. Neither the bus pass or money to cover the fare. (I am not too sure if I hadn’t had any money on me, maybe there wasn’t enough!) I looked frantically about to see if I could find someone who could help me out. And I found one.
He was one of the guys living near to me and I seeked his help and he gave me one rupee. That was the fare (I think) enough to take me from my house to school. I can never forget the feeling of gratitude I had felt for that guy at that moment. He had earned, from that single one rupee coin, a great fan, a follower. I had felt the importance of that one rupee like I had never felt for all the money I had spent on the choclates, pencils or any other sundry things I had bought. My parents, despite the tight string budget that we lived on, what with seven to eight of us family members (we were the only two kids), never let us feel that we lacked what was essential to us. Yes we missed all the comics my classmates could buy, all the freedom to watch our favourite programs on a color TV, or the super cars and games few of my other friends used to play with. We really had what we wanted and never lacked what we needed. And that mattered immensely to that little brain of mine then.
All it took me to realise this was that one rupee. I wish I could say now that I had learnt a great lesson and that I took it with me all my life. Alas I can’t claim that. I still don’t spend my money properly, but thankfully I am not a spendthrift (I think). And still I can appreciate and value each rupee.