Saturday, 25 March 2017

Oru Deivam Thantha Athisiyam: Part 1

"Hi Sanjay, my name is Sindhu and I am a third year chemical engineering student. The question I would like to ask is, who your role model is sir?" asked a young girl among the crowd who attended to hear my talk at Sunway University.

"My role model is Mr. Arun Pandian." I answered instinctively. "I'm sorry sir, who is Arun Pandian? I have not heard of his name before.said the girl as the audience sat in silence. I could see some of the student frantically googling the name Arun Pandian to know who he is."

"Arun Pandian is my father and he is the best role model I ever had." I said. The crowd erupted into thunders claps. "Who I am today is because of him and that is why he is my greatest role model I ever had." I said

I took in a couple more questions before ending my session with the students. It was a talk organised by the university to get successful people in the community to speak to them on the topic "Following your passion leads to success."

As I was about to leave the hall, Sindhu came up to me to speak to me again. "Hi sir, my name is Sindhu and I was the girl who asked the question just now about your role model." Sindhu was a girl with an average height who dressed up like a typical studious engineering student. She wore a blue long sleeves shirt tucked into a black colour skirt and was wearing a pair of glasses.

"Yes Sindhu, how can I help you?" I said. "Sir, I was very impressed with your answer just now. We live in an age whereby we idolize people like Bill Gates, Elon Musk or Tony Fernandes and you answered so calmly without a doubt in your mind that your father is your biggest role model." Said Sindu.

"Well thank you Sindhu. Yes there are many successful people in the world but those people never helped me shape up to be the man I am today. That was all because of my dad. That's why he will always be my number one role model." I said with full of pride speaking about my father.

"Sir, on my free time I write blogs and now I am very keen to write about you sir. After today's talk I really look up to you. Could I get an hour of your time sir someday to speak to you more about yourself and your father so that I could write a post about the both of you." asked Sindhu.

"I have an hour now Sindhu, if you are up for it. We can go for a drive and you can ask me what you want. If you have your notebook and pen we can do it now. What do you say?" I asked. "Sure sir why not?" she answered excitedly 

During my drive with Sindhu, I told her a little background about my father and what kind of a person he is until we stopped by a park nearby the house I used to stay when I was young. It was the park I used to go and play when I was a little boy. Nice green view with a playground and a lane to walk and jog. It is indeed a lovely place to wind down after a tiring day.

"This park holds so many beautiful memory of me when I was young Sindhu. I feel this is the best place for me to talk about dad and myself. Get your notebook ready to write everything down. Being at this park today Sindhu brings back so many beautiful memories and I remember like it was just yesterday, although it has been 25 years since that day." I said to Sindhu who was eager to pen down my thoughts

I was walking back from kindergarten with my mum that day while holding her hand when she told me. "Pa, later Meena Aunty's family will be coming to the house with their son Rajesh. Be a good boy ok Sanjay. Don't be naughty naughty all pa. Share your toys with Rajesh ok and don't fight with him." Said Amma to which I said "Ok Amma."

Well guess what, I did the complete opposite of what Amma asked me to do. Nevertheless I was polite to Meena Aunty and her husband, but to her son Rajesh I wasn't. I told him I couldn't give him any of my toys. I would beat him if he tried to take my toys

I was so used growing up alone so much so that everything at home is usually for me and for me alone. I never had to share. And now here comes some kid trying to take my toys. No way was I going to let that happen.

Amma scolded me and told me to give my toys to him but I just refused to do it and I remembered that look on her face. She was angry at me, and felt embarrassed on the way her little boy is behaving. 

"I am so sorry Meena. Sanjay is usually not like this. I don't know why he is doing like this today." said Amma. Laughed Meena Aunty before saying "That's ok Shobana. Sanjay is a small boy and is not used to sharing his toys, that's all."

And that was how it went the whole day. Amma wasn't happy with me and she was waiting for Appa to come back to tell him what happened. I remember being so frighten thinking I was going to get whacking because of this. I told Amma I was sleepy and wanted to sleep early but she caught my act. She knew I was trying to escape seeing Appa about this whole incident.

Appa wasn't the cool type of dad you would see in movies today. He wouldn't joke much with us. He was more of the serious type of father. Yet he was loving and caring in his own way. I have always loved the way he would carry me to bed when I fall asleep in the hall. Sometimes I would just pretend to be asleep so that he would carry me to bed and tuck me in.

It was 9 p.m. by the time Appa reached home. He quickly took his shower and by the time he came out, Amma had already put the rice on his plate and waited for him on the dining table. Amma would always wait for Appa to come home and eat together with him.

It was during dinner where Amma told him the whole incident. I was very convinced that tonight I was in for a beating. Appa just heard the whole incident quietly and continued eating as if nothing happened. I breathe a huge sigh of relief and went to sleep happily later that night.

The next day was a Saturday and that is always my favorite day of the week. No need to touch the books and a day filled by watching cartoons on TV. The evening meant going to the park to play in the playground. Usually it will be Amma who brings me to the park, but this time Appa said he will bring me to the park.

I didn't mind much as long I got to go the park and play. I held his hand and walked excitedly to the park while asking Appa to up the pace. We got there and he let me to go and play with the other kids. While I was playing Appa was casually conversing with some of the neighbors who brought their kids to the park too.

After an hour plus there, Appa called me over. He told me it is getting late and we should go back home to which I obliged. During the walk home Appa said, "I heard what happened between you and Rajesh yesterday. Why Sanjay didn't you share your toys? You have plenty of it." My head was down while I walked quietly.

"Sanjay, when I ask you a question, I want you to look at me and answer it. Tell me why you didn't share your toys?" asked Appa in a sterner manner. "No Appa, this is all my toys. How if Rajesh takes back all the toys then I won't have anything to play it then. Rajesh should bring his own toys Appa." I answered

"Sanjay, my boy. Rajesh was a guest to our house. You don't bring your toys to other people's house correct? That's why Rajesh never bring his toys. When someone comes to your house, you should share with them your toys." said Appa.

He continued by saying "You know Sanjay, when Appa was your age, I didn't have any toys. We didn't have much money so Appa didn't have any toys. Do you remember Appa's friend Uncle David? When we were young, Uncle David used to be my neighbor. Uncle David used to have a lot of toys and he will share the toys with Appa every evening and play. That is how Uncle David and I became friends."

"Sharing helps you make friends Sanjay. Not everybody has everything Sanjay. That is why it is important to share, so that everyone can have it. Plus everyone will say what a good little boy Sanjay is for sharing his toys. When you share Sanjay, you will also feel good and happy and next time if you need anything, people will also share with you." said Appa.

"Ok Appa, next time I will share my things." I said. We continued walking back home. This story has had such a powerful impact on me to the point I remember the details of the story so well. It has been one of the best advice I have ever received in my life and that is why my father is my greatest role model.

This story didn't just end here. The following Monday, while walking back from kindergarten I told Amma that I am very hungry and she asked how come because she did pack me a proper meal to eat during break time.

"No Amma, Kishore's food dropped down during break time. He was very hungry, so I gave him my food. It is good to share Amma." I said calmly. "You what? Who is Kishore?" asked my mother clearly in shocked.

"Owh Kishore is my new friend. We became friends after I shared my food with him. I am hungry now Amma, can you buy me something to eat?" Amma laughed and said "Sanjay when Appa told you to share things, he didn't mean for you to give everything to people and you have nothing. That is not what Appa meant."

"For example instead of giving all your food to Kishore, you should give him half and you eat half. That way both of you can eat and won't be hungry.. You need to share not give everything pa." Amma said before continuing "I am very proud of you Sanjay, you are a very good boy. I have already cooked at home, you can eat once we reach home.

"25 years later thinking of this story in the same playground where it all happened also reminds me that Amma still loves telling this story during functions about my very first experience of sharing things. What Appa told me that day has help shaped me to be the man I am today. It was this story which instilled the sharing value in me and even played a role in me deciding my career." I told Sindhu.

"Wow sir that is such a beautiful memory you have. I am starting to understand why you look up to him as your role model sir." Said Sindhu who was clearly moved. "Thank you Sindhu, my dad Arun Pandian is a great man in his own ways." I said.

"So sir tell me more about how you picked this line of work as your career? It is not something common to see someone from an Indian background family enter a different career. It is usually engineering, doctor or law. How did you manage to pick something else?. How did your family take it?" asked a very curious Sindhu.

"There is actually a very beautiful story behind how all of that happened. Rather than telling that story here, let's drive down to this small life shop nearby here and I will tell you all about it. These guys serves one of the best roti canai you would ever eat." I said

"Sure sir let's go. I am very eager to hear this chapter of your life." said Sindhu.

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