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The needlessly ungenerous

Theater masks, drama and comedy with a red curtain as backdrop / 3D Rendering, Mixed media.  

Almost half a century ago, I completed my Plus Two with high marks. Those days, there were no entrance tests for engineering admission and seats were allotted based on marks in the qualifying examination.

On the last day for payment of fees, I trudged to the bank in the hot April sun and by the time I filled the challan and submitted, it was cash closing time. The cashier sternly asked, “What is the head of account?” Contemptuously throwing the challan to my face, he said, “You don’t even know the head of account and you want to become an engineer”, and shut the counter.

While I was about to leave, a clerk beckoned me, took the challan and the money, went into the cage, pulled out the counterfoil of another application and copied the head account, put the cash in the drawer, stamped the challan, handed my copy back, smiled and walked away.

Even today, the question haunts me, “What prevented the cashier from doing what the clerk did?”

Travel tantrums

While travelling, I carry boiled tap water in several bottles. One night, just after my train left Mysuru, the passenger on the lower berth started coughing violently and needed some water. I quietly handed one of my bottles. The man drank almost half of it and while giving it back, smugly commented, “But it’s not Bisleri!” I replied acidly, “But it saved your life,” and turned away.

One Saturday evening, my friend and I went for a movie. We could not find adjacent seats. We requested a man who had vacant seats on either side to move one seat. “No, why should I,” he asked. With the film about to start, a man sitting two rows behind and who had a seat vacant next to him calmly offered, “Come, I will move to the end of the row, you two can sit here.”

The next Monday, at my college, a man barged in and sat in the chair opposite to me. It was the person who refused to move. He said his brother, a student in my department, had a shortage of attendance and needed my permission to appear for exams. I coolly asked him, “Why should I do it?” He smiled sheepishly. Of course, in the end, I obliged.

I often wonder why some people find it so difficult to help others even if it costs nothing to them.

grrao56@gmail.com

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 12:58:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-needlessly-ungenerous/article33948225.ece

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