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Friday, September 13, 2013

Excerpts from my new book: Short Stories for Success for Young Readers: A New Lexicon Unfolded - 2nd Story

"This is the second story from my new book: SHORT STORIES FOR SUCCESS FOR YOUNG READERS: A NEW LEXICON UNFOLDED. I believe this book could be ideal for children in the age group of 10-12, to read. I hope you enjoy reading it.
B for Beliefs
“Tat Tvam Asi” – Adhi Shankara (“Thou art That)
The school year had only begun a couple of weeks ago and so, the children were quite casual and carefree. Kamala teacher had just entered her class V and was very happy, seeing the bright faces of the children in the class.
“You all seem to be very happy today!” exclaimed Kamala teacher.
“Yes, teacher!” Everyone said in chorus.
“Did you all talk about the story of the Hare and Tortoise?”
“Yes teacher!”
“Come on. Tell me what you understand about the word: Attitude”.
Again, there was silence in the class and each one was looking at the other.
“Come on. ‘To feel shy’ is an attitude too. ‘To hesitate’ is an attitude. ‘To be courageous,’ is an attitude. You need to communicate your ideas for me to know how much you understood by the term ‘Attitude.’” Kamala teacher exhorted the children.
This time it was Bhargav who raised his hands to speak.
“Yes Bhargav. Tell me. What do you understand about ‘Attitude’?”
“My Amma told me that it is how we think, how we speak or how we act or react is our attitude.”
“That is a very good explanation. Please sit down.”
But Bhargav didn’t take his seat. It appeared he was hesitating to ask a question.
“What Bhargav! Do you have a question to ask me?”
“Yes teacher. My Amma didn’t explain how we develop our attitude.”
Brinda rose from her seat, wanting to add a comment. When urged by Kamala teacher, she said, “Teacher, why is that some people are bold, some are cunning, some are shy, some generous and some pious? It is all difficult to understand.”
Kamala teacher was stunned by the bluntness of Brinda’s enquiry.
“A good question, even for me to answer! But I can tell you this much. By and large, your attitude develops from the kind of Belief you have about yourself and others around you. Your beliefs make you or mar you. Beliefs condition your behavior and attitude. Many succeeded or failed because of what they believed in. Let me explain to you through a story.”
“Manu was only four when she lost her mother. Her father took the responsibility of bringing her up. When she grew up, she learnt sword fighting, horse riding and shooting along with her other formal learning. She was given in marriage to the Maharaja of Jhansi in 1842 and since then she was known as Maharani Lakshmi Bhai of Jhansi.
In 1851, she gave birth to a son, but she lost the child even when he was only three months old. In 1854, when she was only 18, she became a widow when the Maharaja of Jhansi died suddenly. Before his death, the Maharaja had adopted a son to be his heir to the throne. But, when the Maharaja died, the British Rulers refused to recognize the right of the adopted boy and tried to take away the kingdom from Lakshmi Bhai.
However, Lakshmi Bhai refused to budge and declared that she shall not surrender her Jhansi to the British. It was a period when even the mighty Peshwas and Kings of Delhi had bowed down to the British demands. Soon she realized how difficult it was to defend her kingdom.
After the British took over her kingdom, she lived a life of rigorous routine involving prayers, exercising, practicing shooting, sword-man-ship and horse riding and shooting with the reins held on her teeth. She also spent time reading Ramayan and other religious scriptures and tending to poor.
Her methodical, rigorous and disciplined training came very handy during the period of Indian Mutiny in 1857 against the British. She retrieved the kingdom of

Jhansi and established order and glory in the State. However Sir Hugh Rose attacked Jhansi again on 17th March 1858. Lakshmi Bhai fought the war bravely against several odds, supported only by a depleted army against the superior strength of the British army. After a great struggle, Rani of Jhansi died in the war defending her kingdom.
Lakshmi Bhai alias Rani of Jhansi remains a legendary figure even today for her patriotism, self-respect and heroism. She is adored as the great heroine of the First War of Indian Freedom Struggle. She was lauded even by the British General Sir Hugh Rose, her enemy at war, as ‘the bravest and greatest commander of the mutineers.’”
The whole class clapped their hands as Kamala teacher concluded her story of Rani of Jhansi.
She summarized, “Lakshmi Bhai was not alone in history who earned great respect and legendary stature for her belief in herself. There were many more leaders who had great belief in themselves and in their conviction. They had the courage and confidence to face formidable obstacles in their life to meet their goals. Mahatma Gandhi. Martin Luther King. George Washington. Abraham Lincoln. And to talk about recent events Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar who won the Nobel Prize for Peace!”
Bhargav was the one to again raise his hand with a question. When Kamala teacher noticed him, he asked, “Can you tell us the story of …….what is her name? ……. Aung…….  San…… I didn’t get the name correctly?”
“Aung San Suu Kyi? Hers is a very captivating story. But, not now. May be, another day. May be, you can research on her life and tell the class her story.” Just then the school bell rang to indicate that the period was over. Kamala teacher waved her hands to the children, as she slowly walked out of the class.

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