A Small lamp that made a big difference

What is your excuse?

“We could have scored more runs with the kind of bat the opponents had”

“Sophisticated sports equipment would have made sure that we won the match”

“Mom, I feel terrible to carry these old books. It was used at least by 10 students before it came to me. It does not even have place for me write my name. I get a foul smell from this book which makes it difficult for me to concentrate”

Definition of Life at that point in time would be :

Life = Excuses.

I was hailed as a champion cricket player. Yes. You read it right. Champion. Though it was in the street cricket that we played. When I moved to play in the leather ball in a proper cricket ground, I failed miserably. Our team was outplayed by the opponents. Major reason — we were under-prepared. However, Human mind can create wonders. We prepared well to defend our defeat. I used to create wonderful reasons for not playing properly. Easy one is to blame the opponent teams “Sophisticated kit”.

I have never failed in my studies. I have also never came out in flying colours either. I managed to stay with the crowd, in the average performance criteria. I call it the safe zone.

However, I used the best of grey matters to scuttle out reasons. One of the reasons being that the books are old. My parents could not afford to buy new books for me or for my brother. We did our studies by borrowing books from senior students known to us.

I was good at finding excuses to escape reality.

The mind produces wonderful results in the areas where it could maintain focus. To quote famous author Robin Sharma “What you focus, grows”. My imagination grew in multitude to produce reason for lackluster performance.

The imagination expanded with my age to produce innovative excuses while performance keep dropping and then this happened.

I was in Grade 8. The term was about to end. The last day of the term was kept for bidding adieu from the teachers. All the teachers churns out advice after advice. We in turn give them a token gift from our side.

While we as a class remained more or less happy with all the teachers except for Mr. Kuzhandaivelu-our tamil teacher. He was great in teaching and instilling disciple but brutal in punishing. He was determined to produce tamil scholars out of each one of us. Leaving a few students, the rest of us have taken a vow to redefine the low standards in studies. So, he has ended up as an enemy for the majority in the class. We made a plan to teach him a lesson by humiliating him in front of other teachers. We bought standard gifts for all the teachers except for Mr. Kuzhandaivelu. We got a small traditional indian oil lamp (see picture ) but packed it in multi-layered paper.

The day came. We gave the gift for all the teachers. While the rest of the teachers could get hold of the gift by unpacking just one layer, Mr. Kuzhandaivelu kept unpacking layer by layer. After a considerable effort he could hold on to the the small indian oil lamp. He did two things on that day that shifted my thinking. He remained calm and composed throughout the unpacking exercise. He delivered a speech that got imprinted in my mind so well that I remember the entire event clearly even after all these years.

He held the lamp in his hand, without showing any disappointment but rather displaying enthusiasm he said “I am really grateful to you guys for this wonderful parting gift. As a parting thought, I want to say that this lamp may be small in size but with the relevant material it can eradicate darkness in and around the place where it is kept. . This little lamp can not only bring light but also has the capability to lit thousand lights. I wish that all of you will become the light that shines and lights up thousand more lights”

This was an eye opener for me. Mr. Kuzhandaivelu could have used the small lamp as an excuse to scold us rather he chose to bring out the innate positiveness in the lamp.

“The idea that what you get in life does not matter but what you do with what you get in life matters” got chiseled in mind thanks to his golden words. This reiterates what Theodore Roosevelt said “Do what you can with all you have, where you are”.

That small lamp in the hands of Kuzhandaivelu sir made a big difference to the lives of most of the students in that hall. I am one among them.

The fact that I have borrowed book cannot stop me from studying hard. The path towards gaining knowledge became crystal clear. I redefined the journey in education.

The fact that I could not afford sophisticated kit does not stop me from putting my best of efforts in any sports that I played thereafter.

Even today when I stumble in a situation where my mind cries foul about what I have got in life, the voice of Mr.Kuzhandaivelu resonates in my mind and wakes me up.

It does not matter what we get in life. What makes the difference to us and people around us depends on what we do with what we get in life.

The Question is “What are we doing with what we have in our life”.

Are we finding Excuses or trying to excel in life with what we have.