Kannan was a six year old boy. His father had passed on when he was three. His mother earned a little working long hours helping with odds and ends. A six year old needed to be sent to school but there was no school in that village. The nearest was in the next village reached only through traveling dense forest. Well there was no other way. If one wanted to educate the boy that had to be done. If the mother had to take him to school daily that would take a lot of time and then how can she find work? It logically followed that there will be no food if there is no work.
She told the boy,” oh Kanna, aren't you a good boy? Mother can’t take you to school everyday. You have to go yourself. Being a good boy he said, “ oh mother if you so, ok!” he set out with a stout heart but in the middle of the forest his courage deserted him and he started crying! Who cares if you cry in the middle of the forest? He ran all the way to school crying in fear. The teacher seeing him come in crying understood the problem and pacified him.
That day's lesson got over and the students set out for their home. The teacher sent Kannan home with a man in company saying, “ oh, boy! Without some one to accompany dont travel in the forest.”
The next morning it was time to leave for the school. Kannan told his mother, “Mother! though I am afraid of the forest, since you say so, I shall go through to school. But my teacher has forbidden traveling with out an escort. What can I do? Now this was a dilemma! Such a good boy who is ready to face fear of the forest to study! Can he be denied education for want of an escort? To whom can I turn to in adversity except the God! Thinking thus, she said, “ dear child! Don't worry, go to school. If you are afraid call out to your brother. He will come and help you.”
“ I have a brother! I did not know. Why does not he stay with us?”
“ Oh he has a lot to do. Always busy. But he will help you if you really need him!”
“What is his name?”
“His name is gopalan.”
Enthused the boy set out to the school and reached to middle of the forest where his courage once again deserted him. But now he knew wha to do! He called out, “ Gopalaa! Gopalaa!”
Now the boy was nearly terrified. He called out in desperation. “Oh Gopalaa, I am your little brother! I need to go to school but I am afraid of this dense forest. Please come at once and take me to school.”
Still nothing happened.
Now kannan was really afraid. “ I knew you are angry with me. That is why you have not seen me so far. Mother told me that you will take care of me! Did I do anything wrong? If so please forgive me. I surrender to you!”
Now a flute was heard and soon a cowherd appeared playing it. A little calf followed him. He stopped on seeing kannan.
“Are you my brother Gopalan?”
“Yes, I am!”
“Would you take me across this forest?”
“Yes, I would. Let us go!”
On the way kannan plied him with questions. Why was he not known so long? Was he angry with mother and himself? No he was working hard and had no vacations. What was his job? Oh pretty much everything; mainly taking care of cows. What took him so long to appear before him? Oh he was on the other side of the forest. Soon and on. Soon they came to the edge of the forest.
“I take leave of you dear younger brother, I have much work to do.”
“Oh fine, now on I can take care of myself. I can go tot the school. No problem!”
“Bye then study well!”
“Oh I need your help to get back too. Will you come every morning and evening and take me across this forest?”
“Sure I will. See you.”
The teacher saw that the boy was composed and assuming that some arrangement has been made, inquired no further. The mother saw that the boy did not complain but reported meeting his brother who accompanied him. Surely this is a figment of imagination on the part of the boy. Well as long as he could go to school without complaining, it was fine.
From that day on kannan had an enjoyable time. Gopalan taught him many things about the forest, the animals and birds in it, the plants, trees etc. they also sang and danced all the way through the forest. The daily stories the boy narrated to his other was heard with much amusement! What an imagination this boy had!
Things went on smoothly till guru poornima arrived. That is the day the students paid their respects to the teacher with what ever little money/ material they could afford. The boys were discussing what each one will bring. One said, my father has the granary full and so I shall bring a bog of rice. Another said he would bring oil. Another talked of a lot of vegetables. Kannan was asked what he would bring.
“ oh I don't know. Whatever mother gives me.”
The peer pressure made the boy appeal to his mother for something to submit to his teacher.
“What can we afford dear? What comes out of work is just enough to make the two ends meet! Dont worry too much. The teacher knows about our family and will understand you can not give him any money or material. Just pick some flowers on the way to school and put them at his feet and prostrate before him.”
Kannan was upset! Is this all he can do?...