Editor’s Note:As parents we always strive to inculcate the rights morals, values and behaviour within our children. But often, when mistakes are made we, as adults, forget to do one very important thing – remain calm. Our member Pushpavalli Srinivasan shares two stories with us with very important learnings. Share your thoughts with us on these here.

George Washington

There is a childhood story about George Washington. He was born in a wealthy family. His father lived in a big mansion surrounded by garden with lots of flower plants and trees. 

When he was about 6/7 years old he was presented with a hatchet by his father. It was shiny and sharp and George liked it very much. He cut the weeds in the garden with the hatchet.

One day he wanted to test the sharpness of the hatchet. He went into the garden and chopped off many plants. Then he saw a cherry tree which was coming up and he just chopped it off. The cherry was brought from England by George’s father and he was very fond of it.

In the evening George’s father went to the garden and found the tree chopped off. He was very angry and came in side the house and asked who had cut the tree. George was afraid to see his father angry. 

Yet in a trembling voice he said, “I wanted to test the sharpness of my hatchet and I chopped off the tree. I am very sorry. I didn’t know that you were so fond of it.”

His father hugged him and said, “My dear son! I was fond of the tree and I brought it from England. But I am proud to see my son talking the truth without fear and owning the guilt. I am happy that my child will become a great man one day.”

Later on his father’s prediction proved true and George Washington became the president of America.

Mahatma Gandhi

There is a childhood incident in the life of the father of our nation M.K.Gandhi similar to this.

When he was studying in high school he was very thin and weak. He was haunted by the fear of thieves, ghosts and serpents. He did not dare to venture out of doors at night. He was afraid to sleep alone at night. He was married at a very young age. His wife Kasturibai was very brave and she used to venture out in darkness. Hence he was feeling more uncomfortable in front of her. Hence he thought that he should overcome this cowardliness.

Gandhi’s elder brother’s classmate and companion befriended Gandhi. He used to drink and had bad habits. Gandhi’s mother and wife advised him to keep off with that friend, but Gandhi told them that he would try to reform him. Alas! The opposite thing had happened.

He told Gandhi that if he wanted to become strong he should eat meat and drink wine. English men were able to rule over Indians because they ate meat and drank wine. He further told that even his school teachers and many high school students were secretly taking meat and wine. 

Gandhi’s elder brother had already fallen prey to these vices. Being born in a staunch Gujarathi Vaishnavite family, at first Gandhi was very much hesitant. But his brother and the friend convinced him slowly and brainwashed him. One day they took Gandhi to a secluded place at the riverside and they fed him with bread and goat’s meet. The meat was just like tough leather and Gandhi neither relished the bread nor the meat and felt sick and had to leave off eating. He reminded himself that he should become strong to drive away the English. His friend also tried to try different varieties of dishes with meat to lure Gandhi.

That night he couldn’t get sleep. He got up with jerks as horrible nightmare haunted him. He felt as if a goat was bleating in side his stomach. He was filled with remorse. Yet he continued meat eating lest he would not become strong to fight the British. But later he quit meat eating secretly, thinking that it was not right to keep lying to his parents that he had no appetite when they asked him to have his dinner after a meet session with the friend.

He also had fallen into the bad habit of smoking through another friend. In the beginning they used to collect stumps of cigarettes thrown away by his uncle. But as the stumps were not always available and also could not emit much smoke he started pilfering small coins from the servant’s pocket money in order to buy cigarettes. But it was not always easy to steal and also he felt that he did not have the freedom to do what he wanted in front of the elders. Hence he had to quit smoking.

His brother had gone into debts due to his meat eating habit. He owed around 25 rupees and had no means of getting that amount to clear the debts. He was wearing a gold armlet. Gandhi cut a bit from the armlet and sold it and cleared the debt, but he could not clear his conscience. His conscience was pricking him and he could not get rid of the guilt feeling. He resolved never to steal again and also made up his mind to make a confession to his father. As he did not have the courage to tell him in person, he decided to write it in a paper. Thus he wrote his confession in a piece of paper and gave it to his father. He had written in the confession that he was willing to accept any punishment and that never again he would steal in future. He also had written that his father should not punish himself for his offense.

He handed over the piece of paper and was waiting with bated breath for his reaction. His father read the letter and drops of pearls were oozing out from his eyes. Seeing that Gandhi also started crying. Those silent pearl drops shed from his father’s eyes cleansed his heart and washed his sin. Gandhi had thought his father would get very angry and would speak harshly or strike his own forehead for the guilt of his son. His calmness and cool behaviour was the first lesson of ahimsa learnt by Gandhi and later he used it in his fight for independence to our country.

I wish that all children should read ” My Experiments with truth.”