This incident happened when I was probably in 3rd or 4th standard. 

It was a more serene age back then in Dubai with no Burj Al Arabs or man-made islands around - nothing like the carnival it's become over the last decade. A dirham got you 3 chapatis and 10 dirhams got you an audio cassette. Yet, even then, at those times, there were obviously families struggling to make ends meet. As kids who shared the same bus, played, studied, compared He-man comics and struggled to put on our ties, we were blissfully oblivious to the financial demands we put on our parents with our school fees.

The first time it struck the guys in my class of this problem was when the class teacher called a friend of ours and talked to him in private. The second time this scene repeated itself a few days later, curiosity got the better of us all and we asked him what was going on. His voice cracked a little as he informed us that he'd been unable to pay the fees this term ( there were three terms in a year, if I recall correctly ) and so had been asked to inform his parents that he could not attend school unless he had the cash the next day. 
I remember feeling sad for him that evening after class... I wondered if he's have to leave school and where he'd go or what he'd do next. I was too young then to wonder how much it would break his parents' hearts or how they would feel.

The next day, he showed up back in school in the morning. For a brief moment, we were all excited. But, no, he had not paid his fees, he told us. While his dad had been asking friends across Dubai for a loan, noone had come through for him. We all returned back to our seats dejected. Somewhere into the third period of the day, our class teacher walked back into the class and spoke a few words to the teacher in the classroom. Their eyes were fixed on our friend and we all knew what was coming when she called him to come towards them. He too seemed resigned to his fate - a 7 year old child knowing he was going to have to leave school for no fault of his. He had packed his bag even while the two teachers were talking with each other and carried it with him as he went to meet them. 
I still remember he didn't cry... then.

The tears did start a few minutes later though as the teachers smilingly informed him that his fees had been paid by one of my other classmate's father, who'd felt gutted as he listened to the story the previous night over dinner. He had come over the next morning to the school and paid the fees for this child he had never met. His child, our friend sat quietly and watched events unfold that morning. Neither did he  seek the limelight that day, nor did his father demand a repayment of the fees later on. 

I still remember this as the moment I realised what the difference between being rich and being great was. Because that was the adjective that we seven year olds used that day - not "he is rich", but "he is great."  
I never met the man who paid the fees. But 25 years later, I still remember his selfless act.  
Vishu marks a new year, a new beginning for us all. It just felt like the right time to share this memory.

Don't run behind riches. If you're cool enough to read a silly blog like this, you're probably educated enough to earn enough for a good life. Even if you become a crorepati, in today's day and age, you're still just a one-in-a-million. You're still nobody to anybody who doesn't need your money. 
Instead, try to be the miracle man... the person who will be remembered even decades later by people who have witnessed the good deeds that you've done.

Happy Vishu everyone.




  

45 Comments

Denizen said…
Really touching write-up dude...Wish there were more people like that parent...Indeed a great deed by a great soul.
Denizen said…
Oh yes, and Happy Vishu to you too! :)
Anonymous said…
What a great person he was...and what an amazing guy you are for remembering this even today & inspiring us!
drprashant said…
u touched my Heart..... Happy Vishu...!!!
Excellent story! We are called to make a difference in this world!
reshma javed said…
radha,yeah i kno wat u mean...dubai was the coolest place to be but as a kid u dont realize that families were struggling to get through the day...God bless u for the story...n God bless the miracle man n his family in this life n the Hereafter...aameen
Oh u know what tears came to my eyes when I read that the child even packed his bags when he saw the teachers discussing about him...How sad ! I am sure that man who selflessly paid the fees and his son may be blessed now. And how thoughtful of u to share this one. It touched you so much that you remember it to this day...dint it?
simply me said…
Beautiful :) :)
happy vishu to you too
Great story sir! Happy Vishu to you.
Dr Roshan R said…
Denizen, Happy Vishu to you too. And ya, if there were just a couple more people like him in all our lives, we'd all be motivated perhaps...
Dr Roshan R said…
Nilu, you're kidding :) I don't even have 1/millionth of that guy's heart.. the only reason I get to appear in this article 'beside him' is because I'm writing it...
Dr Roshan R said…
Prashant sir, thanks... Happy Vishu to you and your family too sir.

Danny, indeed we are... just by the simple act of sharing our experiences, we can help others.
Dr Roshan R said…
Reshma, I know... I used to love Dubai as a kid.. everything, every place seemed accessible back then... never really thought of the strain we were putting on our parents.

Anita, I hope they were blessed in the decades since then.. I confess I lost touch. And ya, it did leave a very strong impression on me... it was one of those 'Woah' moments I recall.
Dr Roshan R said…
Simply me, Anand.. Happy Vishu to you all too :)
Leo Paw said…
I can visualize the whole event unfold as I read. Richness and greatnes, the difference still holds good, no matter how old we are now. And those are the kind of people who make a difference. I'm proud when I say, my dad is one such person. He has been funding for the education of many poor children ever since he started to earn a little more than what he need to sustain our family. He is also the reason a few families earn their daily bread. The best part is he expects nothing in return. He is rich in his own way though he has hardly saved enough for his post retirement days. Just couldn't stop thinking/writing about him when I read this beautiful post of yours. :)

Ennum kanikandunaran orayiram nanmakal nerunnu. vishu ashamsakal.
a-hem said…
Dr. Roshan, you are quite the storyteller. :) Thank you for a wonderful post! Happy Vishu to you and yours.
maithili said…
It is such a beautiful gesture! My brother had a friend whose father had expired and his uncle could nt pay his fees. He too was asked to pay or leave mid sem. Luckily my brother's classteacher took an initiative. She asked for a small contribution from all students. Some parents refused but some came forward to pay enough to cover his term fees.
Dr Roshan R said…
Leo Paw, exactly.. its a valuable lesson to watch and learn from... Happy Vishu.

A-hem, Happy Vishu to all at home.
Dr Roshan R said…
Maithili, see.. there are people who do such good things. I know its easy to be indifferent in this time of scams and scandals, but I feel we too have a responsibility to remind people that there exists good people.. unsung heroes who stand by their integrity.
Mogamboo said…
Nice one .... Happy Vishu ..btw where r u now a days me at m'lore mail me uer number
Ankita Ghosh said…
Delightful and insightful! The world is not all that bad, not yet! Thanks to these people who make us believe in life! Indeed, happy Vishu!
Dr Roshan R said…
Shyam, will mail you details.

Ankita, indeed... just needs one candle to shine some light in a dark world, right ? Happy Vishu to you too
Dhanya said…
It's so touching and I'm so thankful that we still have people like him around to make this world a lil better place to live..
Anonymous said…
Doc,
This gave me goose bumps.... you wrote it real well - the difference between "being rich" & "being great"......
As you said, dont know how many of us would do the same that man had done - that too selflessly... and the ache of a 7 year old's heart...... tat got me sad.... probably because, my son's turning 7 in a few months and I kinda know what they go thru???
Good one.....

Vidya
Harish said…
Wish you a very happy Vishu though belated and heartfelt thanks for sharing this incident. Along with helping his son's dear friend, that dad had thrown the seeds of empathy and kindness into the hearts of the kids who witnessed the incident and today with this post I believe you have harvested and threw the seeds into the hearts of your readers.
Dr Roshan R said…
Dhanya, really wish I had more examples of nicer people to share.. but they are so far and few between.

Harish, a Happy Vishu to you too.. if only... if only.. i guess if even one person gets inspired to do a selfless act based on this, it would be a victory for that man ages
ago.
Nagalakshmi V said…
i have been that kid. i was the only one in my class not allowed in the swimming pool because my parents couldn't afford the 2000rs "donation". i was 11. although no classmate or their family helped, my parents managed, i don't remember how. i think the school waived it as a one-off. they must've felt guilty ripping off the parents otherwise anyway :)
$$ said…
God bless the great guy and his near & dear ones! :)

Lovely post &neat vishu kani. Wishing u a fabulous year ahead (which includes interesting blog posts!) :)

Cheers!!!
Rohan said…
One could only hope to meet such gems in a lifetime. . Really great!
Quakeboy said…
Thank you for this post!

I had been in that poor kid's situation many many times during my school days, and its a shame that I don't even think of it when life is treating me better now.
Dr Roshan R said…
Nags, sorry to hear that.. its true you know.. have you heard the school fees presently :o

Shalini.. Happy Vishu to you too.. and looking forward to many more ( post baby )posts from you too.
Dr Roshan R said…
Rohan, its a simple act..anyone can do it if they want to.. but it makes a difference in others lives.

Quakeboy, not looking to start any revolutions here.. but hope someday you have the chance to make a difference and you take it, pal.
Meety said…
Awesome post as usual.. and God Bless the great man... bwn Happy Vishu..have a great year ahead.. n hope you had a wonderful Vishu sadya :)
Nice post . Me likes . And thanks for sharing :)
Anitha said…
Misty-eyed. Lovely post.
Dr Roshan R said…
Meety, thanks.. Happy Vishu to you and your family too.. and yes, had a typical 'non-veg' sadya :)

OP&L, thanks for dropping by.

Anitha, thanks.. Happy Vishu.
Dr Supriya said…
Nice story.. Nicely woven into words! Hope there are more such people in this world. And yes.. Truely said that your riches dont matter to people but your deeds Really do.. One kind deed can do so much for a person in need.
Dr Roshan R said…
Dr Supriya.. glad you agree.. because I have come across the exact opposite type of people.. the type who dont mind cheating, robbing and stealing even from the poor for the sake of money.. and it is quite disheartening that they get away with it while nice individuals remain unknown to the world.
Chakoli said…
So touching!!
Dr Roshan R said…
Thanks Chakoli..
ap said…
Really good!
I hope the kid who got help will try his part to help the less fortunate!
Roshan said…
I hope he did too.. I remember the guy as being a really nice chap. I'm sure somewhere down the line, he would have done so if the chance arose.. we can always hope, right...
Unknown said…
God bless the father n his family!!
Nice post, Roshan.
Indeed.. god bless that family whereever they are...
Karanth S R said…
They say that people like this father are the ones who make this world a better place :) this reminded me of one of my classmate whose father used to pay the fees of couple of other kids in the class and buy note books and uniform for them :) Such acts of kindness and selflessness will inspire others too to be kind :)