[The following is a true story from this week]
I am so relieved he is watching TV now. I know I don’t sound like a good parent saying that, but right now I am liking this moment. I am somewhat tickled that Mahatma Gandhi can make a difference in our lives. Only minutes ago, he was howling at the top of his lungs: “It was the worst day of my life!”
When he came back from school, I heard him. It was as if a satellite had fallen upon unawares. Quickly descending the flight of stairs I reached him standing between the powder room and the front door. All the people that loved him surrounded him … me, his grandparents, his sister, and his nanny. All concerned. Looking at him.
“What happened, Gobind.”
“They were all laughing. I don’t want to talk about it.” More crying followed.
“But what did you say that made them laugh. They probably liked it; that’s why they laughed”
“No they were laughing at me. It’s too embarrasing” And then the sobs continued.
Without wasting any more time, I dragged him upstairs. I thought he would talk more if it was just me and him. Locking the door behind me even as his sister banged on it for some time. “Jania, I just need to talk to him alone.” I told her. She was quiet soon.
I read him the poem I used to love growing up.
“When I was at the party,”
Said Betty, aged just four,
“A little girl fell off her chair
Right down upon the floor;
And all the other little girls
Began to laugh, but me—
I didn’t laugh a single bit,”
Said Betty seriously.
“Why not?” her Mother asked her,
Full of delight to find
That Betty—bless her little heart!—
Had been so sweetly kind.
“Why didn’t you laugh, my darling?
Or don’t you like to tell?”
“I didn’t laugh,” said Betty,
“Cause it was me who fell.”
Then I remembered. He probably had his speech today. He had been talking about this speech he had to make to qualify as a “Class representative.”
“Is this about your speech?”
He looked up with moist eyes, “Yes.”
And then he burst out. “I was speaking and everyone started laughing. And I didn’t finish my speech. I took my name off the list. I am never making a speech ever again.”
“But what did you say that was so funny?”
“It was not funny. I said I will take all the blame for you guys. I will always be there when you need me. And then they started laughing.”
I thought about it. He basically made an emotional speech, and 8 year olds found that quite funny. Especially coming from him, who is normally very jovial. I told him that I was proud of what said. That would have been enough because he started to smile. But I thought I needed a one-two punch. So I shared with him what I have learned from Gandhi, that I remind myself when I am alone despite being right:
“Gobind, if Gandhi had stopped because he feared people laughing at him, we would not be Mahatma, he would not be a great soul. He used to say, ‘They ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight. Then you win’.”
He thought about it for a moment and said, “People laughed at Gandhi too!” He said he would stand for election again next year.
Mahatma’s truth indeed lives on despite dying moments of despair. We shared a fleeting smile. And intending to pounce on this loving moment he asked, “Can I watch TV now?”
This week’s Indie Ink Challenge came from Billy Flynn, who gave me this prompt: “In time we hate that which we fear – William Shakespear”. I challenged Liz Culver with the prompt “The rose that grew from a crack in the concrete”.