Raja Gets Soaked
Charity and Non-Gossip
One day my family was preparing for a feast at the temple. My mother was concerned about what we would all wear and about all the food that she needed to prepare. My father was trying to keep her calm, offering to take on any responsibilities, which she could off-load onto him. My sister and I were very excited and kept jumping up and down, running hither and thither and generally getting in the way.
The day was fine as usual, but the rainy season was about to start. The air had a slightly different smell to it. My father announced that he would be preparing for the rains that day and that, if my mother needed him, she should call. Mother continued with her work. She gave me a little job to do and asked my sister to help with the baking. The servants were all very busy too, as they also would attend this feast.
My father reappeared to announce that there was a hole in the stable roof and that if we did not mend it today, Raja, my horse, might get a soaking. No one seemed to be available to help, so I went along to help Father. We gathered the necessary materials and tools and started our work. I had to hold things steady while my father did the fixing. He was not very good at this sort of work, because normally the servants would do it, but on this day no one was free and the rain was imminent. It had to be done. Finally we finished. I thought it might leak a little, but I said nothing as it had taken us a very long time to complete the work.
Shortly after midday a rumble was heard in the distance. The rain clouds had gathered and were about to burst. I ran into the stable to stand under the mended hole with Raja. We looked up as the first large drops hit the roof. Soon there was a downpour. It was torrential. You forget how hard it can rain when you have several months without rain at all.
Initially the hole held fast, but so relentless was the torrent that first a trickle, then a stream of water began to emerge from the hole. I was furious. What would my lovely horse do? He would get wet and he would have a pool of water in his bed. I pulled up my jacket over my head, my smart new jacket donned for the celebrations, and I ran outside. I was so cross I just wanted to find my father to shout at him and tell him what I thought of his mending skills.
On the way to the house I saw Arundada, the gardener, he was the one who would usually do such work. I told him my father had made a terrible job of mending the hole in the roof and that he would have to fix it immediately, or my horse might catch a cold and die. I ran on indoors, there was my father, warm, dry and smiling.
“Father!” I shouted, “That mend was useless. Poor Raja is soaking wet and he has a huge puddle to lie in! You’re not much good at mending roofs, are you?”
“Well, well, Ramesh, I see you are a little overwrought. It is not the end of the world that the roof has leaked. Maybe the gardener would have made a better job of it than I did. But at least I made an effort. Can the gardener read as well as I can? Does he know as many prayers as I do? I doubt it, but I do not insult him for that. He does his work and I do mine, generally speaking. Be charitable towards your poor father who has tried to do his best. Give me credit for making an effort at least.”
“I am sorry, Father,” said I, realising my haste, and then blushing I said, “I told him you were useless at mending things, I should not have said that.”
‘Well, well, if they gossip about me at least it will only be about my lack of ability to mend the roof and not about a more serious transgression. But I don’t think Arundada has a harsh word to say about anybody. I think my secret is safe with him, don’t you?’
The rain had stopped when we went out again and had another try at mending the roof. In spite of that Arundada still had to come and do it the next day. Neither Father nor I were very good at mending roofs.
Some questions to ask yourself
- What does your school or your family do for others in need? Do you do your bit to help too?
- How does it feel to be generous or useful to others who need help?
- Do you ever catch yourself gossiping unkindly about other people?
- Do you ever repeat gossip about other people? Why do you think some people do this?
- Do you like it when other people gossip about you? Why not?