It was half past nine and I was already late for my first class of the day. As I was rushing towards my class, I bumped into Manish - a grade 2 kid from my storytelling class.
A shiny purple necklace fell off his pocket. I picked it up and curiously asked him where he got this beautiful necklace from. He very proudly pointed up at the washroom and smiled “There”.
Even though I was already late for my class, I stopped and pushed him for more details. He told me that he was very happy that he finally had a gift for his sister.
I asked him if he knew who the necklace belonged to. He shook his head and said, “Finders. Keepers.” I explained him that when he finds something that doesn’t belong to him, he should give it to the concerned authorities as the owner might be looking for it.
He shook his head furiously, snatched the necklace from my hand and ran away. I went up to my class and sat there thinking about what I should do. I did not want to force him into returning it, rather I wanted him to realize that it was wrong, ensuring he does not repeat this in future.
So the next day in my storytelling class, I narrated a very popular tale of two boys who stole mangoes from their neighbour’s yard. One of the boys was bitten by a dog and caught by the neighbour. The neighbour then explained both the boys that stealing is a crime and even when nobody is watching, God is always watching.
I saw Manish looking at me slyly as he knew this story was addressed to him. All the kids then got into a discussion with me about stealing. One of the kids asked me if he finds something on the street, is he supposed to just keep it.
Before I could answer, Manish stood up and explained to the entire class that keeping something that is not ours is also equal to stealing.
I felt very proud.
The entire class applauded him. He smiled and sat down. After the class, I expected him to come to me but he didn’t. I had given up hope. The next day before prayer, he came running to me and returned the necklace.
He asked me to ensure that the owner of that necklace gets it back. I was greatly touched by the action of this little angel.
Till now, I had spent time with children at Samvedana simply trying to share my knowledge with them. However today, for the first time, I felt like I actually paid forward a valuable lesson to a child. I felt, for the first time, I had made a difference.