And it worked wonders…
Every evening at around 6 p.m. during the summer holidays of my school days one would find me happily sitting with grandma in the portico of the staff quarters narrating to her, a story from some book or the other. In between we would also indulge in small talk with her recounting episodes from the Mahabharata. And undoubtedly against the powerful episodes from the Mahabharata, my fables seemed feeble and pale. All the same, evenings of summer holidays in the company of grandma were most relaxing and thought provoking. Further as a school boy the thought of progressing to the next higher class gave me a feeling of delight. And being an uncomplicated son of a contented father, small achievements of life made me happy and my simple but down to earth grandma proud.
Every day around that time Mr. Mehta who lived in the adjacent residence would be seen walking down the pathway towards our quarters to reach his. He would greet grandma with a warm and dignified smile, touch her feet and sit beside her for about 5 minutes or so to enquire about her health and family. After exchanging pleasantries and wisdom he would leave, proffering a little pat on my oily head which gave me a thrill of sorts while I gaped at him starry eyed.
I would sit there fascinated by his personality, manners, the respect he held for grandma and the way he carried himself with dignity. I also noticed that he would never stop to talk to anybody else on the way except grandma. And most strikingly he was the only person among the three hundred employees of the company who wore a necktie and always carried a thick book in his hands. He was dignity personified, looked serious but warm and spoke with courteous authority. Apart from this I knew nothing about him but adored him particularly captivated by the necktie he wore and the thick book he carried all the time.
One day after he left I came out of my awe and asked grandma to tell me more about him. I was particularly interested in knowing why he was the only person in the whole organisation wearing a necktie. Grandma gave me a faraway look and grabbing the opportunity to motivate me quipped, “Good question my boy! Mehta is the most educated among all the people working in this company; more educated than the owners of this factory too. He studied very hard when he was your age and got through all his exams with distinction. His parents were not too well off and at times he had to study under the street lights. I am told that he is a CA; God knows what that means. I am told it is something to do with accounts. All said and done, he is the highest qualified in this company. And, BECAUSE he is so highly educated, he wears a tie. So if you wish to wear a tie and hold such thick books in your hand and be respected like him you should study very hard right from now and acquire the CA qualification like him”. Her response left me dumbfounded. Emotionally upbeat, I held my grandma’s hands and took a solemn oath to ‘tie the knot’. Reflecting on that event today, I wonder if I had noticed a mischievous and mysterious Mona Lisa smile on grandma’s visage!
Any way by then Mr. Mehta’s personality and majesty had already made a tremendous impact on my psyche and I idolised him with reverence. This additional revelation that I could wear a tie only if I achieved what he had achieved in terms of academics triggered me to set my sight on the tie and the ultimate goal at a very young age. Grandma left her body soon after but her lie about the tie got me my pie in the form of CA. She was the Krishna of my Mahabharata; she was my charioteer and my Guru who with the earthly prescription not only inspired me to identify my goal but also steered me to my goal from up above with her spiritual presence.