He was pruning the plants in the posh gardens of an international school. Heat and dust didn’t seem to affect him.
“Ganga Das, Principal Ma’am wants to see you–right now!”
The last two words to the peon had lots of emphasis on them, trying to make it sound like an urgency.
He quickly got up, washed and wiped his hands and headed towards the principal’s chamber.
The walk from the garden to the office seemed never ending. His heart was almost jumping out of his chest. He was trying all the permutation and combination, figuring out as to what has gone wrong that she wants to see him urgently.
He was a sincere worker and never shirked from his duties. Knock, knock!
“Madam, you called me?”
“Come inside…” uttered an authoritative voice laced with crispness which made him further nervous.
She had salt and pepper hair, tied neatly in a french knot, a designer sari-sober and very classic, glasses resting on the bridge of her nose. She pointed out towards a paper kept on the table. “Read this.”
“B…but Ma’am, I am an illiterate person. I cannot read English. Ma’am please forgive me if I have done anything wrong. Give me another chance. I am forever indebted to you for allowing my daughter to study in this school, free of cost. I could have never ever dreamt of such a life for my child.” And he broke down almost trembling.
“Hold on, you assume a lot. We allowed your daughter because she is very bright and you have been our sincere worker. Let me call a teacher in, she will read it out and translate it to you. This is written by your daughter and I want you to read this.”
Soon enough the teacher was called and she started reading it, translating each line in Hindi.
It read: “Today we are asked to write about Mother’s Day.
“I belong to a village in Bihar, a tiny village where medical and education still seem like a far fetched dream. Many women die every now and then while giving birth. My mother was one of them too, she could not even hold me in her arms. My father was the first person to hold me, or perhaps the only person.
“Everyone was sad as I was a girl and I had ‘eaten up’ my own mother. My dad was instantly asked to remarry but he refused. My grandparents forced him by giving all logical, illogical and emotional reasons but he didn’t budge.
“My grandparents wanted a grandson, they threatened him to remarry else he will be disowned. He didn’t think twice. He left everything, his acres of land, a good living, comfortable house, cattles and everything that counts for a good lifestyle in a village.
“He came to this huge city with absolutely nothing – but me in his arms. Life was tough. He worked hard day and night and raised me with tender love and utmost care.
“Now I understand why suddenly he developed a dislike for things that I would love to eat when there was only one piece left in the platter. He would say that he hates eating it and I would finish it considering that he does not like it, but as I grew older I realised the reason and what sacrifice is all about. He gave me the best possible comforts beyond his capacity.
“This school gave him a shelter, respect and the biggest gift—an admission to his daughter.
“If love and care defines a mother, then my father fits in there.
“If compassion defines a mother, my father fits in well in that category too.
“If sacrifice defines a mother, my father dominates that category.
“So, in nut shell, if a mother is made of love, care, sacrifice, and compassion,
My Father is the best mother on earth then.
“On Mother’s Day, I would like to thank my father for being the best parent on earth. I salute him and say it with pride that the hardworking gardener working in this school is my father.
“I know I may fail this test after my teacher reads this – but this would be a very small price one would pay towards an ode to the selfless love of my father. Thanks.”
There was a deafening silence in the room. One could only hear soft sobbing of Ganga Das. The harsh sun could not wet his clothes with sweat, but soft words of his daughter had soaked his chest with tears. He was standing there with hands folded. He took the paper from teacher’s hands, held it close to his heart and sobbed.
Principal got up, offered him a chair, glass of water and said something, but strangely, the crispness of her voice was taken over by a surprising warmth and sweetness.
“Ganga Das, your daughter is given 10/10 marks for this essay. This is the best essay ever written about Mother’s Day in the history of this school. We are having the Mother’s Day gala event tomorrow and the entire School Management has decided to invite you as the Chief Guest for the event.
“This is to honour all the love and sacrifice a man can do to raise his children, to show that you do not have to be a woman to be the perfect parent. And most importantly, this is to reinforce, appreciate, acknowledge the strong belief of your daughter in you to make her feel proud and to make the entire school feel proud that we have the best parent on earth, as stated by your daughter.
“You are a ‘true gardener,’ who is not only looking after the gardens, but also nurturing the most precious flower of your life in such a beautiful way. So, Ganga Das, will you be our Chief Guest for the event?”