Friday, December 23, 2011

The Second Prize

              Competitions in sports and games were announced in a school in a remote village. Most of the students came from the poor rural area around the school. Many attended the classes mainly for enjoying the free noon- meal, which was a big boon for the poor pupils, whose parents could not afford to provide even regular food for their children. The first prize for the winner in the racing competition was an electric iron. The second prize was an umbrella.
             Little John came from a very poor family. He was a good sprinter and everyone was sure that he would win the first prize in the race with ease. But on the day of the competition, while the race was almost over, John, who was leading in the race, was found to slow down. He let the second boy overtake him and reach the finishing point as the first. John gladly received the new umbrella as the second prize.
             John’s class-teacher was watching the race. He came to John and asked him why he had voluntarily sacrificed the first prize though he was sure to get it. He told his teacher, “Sir, I have no use with an electric iron, the first prize. There is no electricity in our poor house. Moreover, I wished to give the new umbrella as a loving gift to my little sister, Lily, who has no umbrella to come to school on rainy days. She shares my torn umbrella and usually both of us get wet on rainy days. So I needed the second prize.” The teacher was deeply moved on hearing these loving words of little John. He gifted a new umbrella to John.
            A racing competition was in progress in a school for the mentally retarded children. Three students were positioned in a line and were trained to run at maximum speed towards the finishing line. After several trials, the teachers could train them to compete in the race. On the day of the final competition, several invited guests were present, along with the parents of the children. The signal was fired to start the race. The three friends started the race. A little later, one of the students slipped and fell down. Immediately the other competitors stopped their race and cared for their friend. They consoled him and held his hands firmly. Then they marched forward, still holding the hands of the fallen boy with utmost care on either side. They reached the finishing point together and were really happy that they could finish the race together. Everyone in the audience was moved by this act of tender care. Many were found to be in tears.
          Infants are inherently innocent and loving. Unhealthy competition with colleagues and unholy attempts to succeed in the race of life, ignoring the rights of others are harmful habits introduced into their tender minds by an unsocial and anti-social society. Children should grow up, retaining the innocence of infancy. Parents, other relatives, teachers and society have a major responsibility in training children correctly.
          Peace and joy are the results and reflections of a pure and innocent heart. Let us learn to listen to the whisper of our conscience. That is the word of God from within us.

© By Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India, Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally and Leo. S. John, Maniparambil, Ooriyakunnath, Kunnumbhagom, Kanjirappally, Kottayam-686507, Kerala, India.
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