Chinku was an avid reader. She just loved reading-mainly animal stories, fairy-tales and books about inspiring people.
By Sheeshu Hee
One day, shortly after Chinku had turned 13, her father said to her, “Chinku, you’re a big girl now! You’re now a teenager, and so you should know what’s happening in the world. I want you to read the newspaper every day. You should spend at least twenty minutes on that in the evenings, when you get back from school.”
Now, Chinku was an avid reader. She just loved reading”mainly animal stories, fairytales and books about inspiring people. And so, when her father told her that she must start reading newspapers, to begin with, she was very excited. “I can now read things that grown-up people do!” she thought to herself. But within two days, Chinku had completely changed her mind! The newspapers were so full of sad and bad things that she got a splitting headache! She just couldn’t take it anymore, and she told her father so.
Sad and Bad Things
Chinku’s father fully understood how Chinku felt, because he felt somewhat the same way about newspapers, too. He really didn’t like reading what Chinku called all the ‘sad and bad things’ in the newspapers every day”and that too almost the first thing in the morning”but for some strange reason, he felt that he just had to. So, when Chinku explained to him how reading the newspaper was giving her a headache, he replied, “Chinku dear, just read the front page of today’s paper, and from tomorrow you can go back to your fairytales! No more newspapers for you! Okay?”
You can’t believe how happy that made Chinku!
Chinku picked up the front page of the newspaper and gave it a lazy look. She didn’t really want to read it, but her father had been so understanding that she felt she couldn’t refuse his request. Just then, her eyes fell on a line in bold letters: “Parents of two-year-old boy with cancer struggle for money for treatment”. Chinku at once got down to reading the article.
The boy, the article explained, had been admitted to a local hospital for treatment. The child’s parents were poor people from a remote village. They had sold most of their land for the expensive treatment of their only child, and now they had very little money left. The article appealed to residents of the city to help the family.
The Pocket Money
Chinku put down the newspaper and ran to her cupboard, where she kept her clothes, books and toys. She reached out for her piggy-bank and emptied its contents on the floor. She counted the notes and coins”the pocket-money that she had carefully saved over several months. It came to 450 rupees. She pushed the money into her pocket and rushed to her father, who was at the dining-table, reading the newspaper.
“Papa! Papa!” she said. “Did you read that article in the newspaper about the child with cancer?”
“Yes, I did Chinku”, said Chinku’s father, moving the newspaper away from his face.
“So, are you and Mummy going to help the child?” Chinku asked.
“Chinku, there are so many children like that. How many people can one help?” Chinku’s father answered impatiently and turned back to the newspaper.
“No Papa! No! You have to help!” Chinku responded. “It’s so sad”a little child with cancer and his parents don’t have enough money and”¦”
“Chinku, that’s enough!” Chinku’s father snapped. “I am not exactly swimming in money, you know. We have to be careful with our expenses.”
“Papa, you can’t be so mean!” Chinku insisted. “What if that little boy were me and the child’s parents were you and Mummy? How would you feel? Just imagine me in that child’s place!”
Those words, straight from little Chinku’s heart, struck her father forcefully. For a moment, he imagined exchanging places with the boy’s father. He felt terrible.
“Chinku!” he exclaimed. “You are so right!” Saying this, he went to his room, opened his cupboard and returned with some money. “Come dear, let’s go right away to the hospital!” he said to Chinku.
In a short while, Chinku and her father arrived at the hospital, where they located the little child and his parents. They spent some time with them, asking them how the boy was doing and finding out what help they could be of. Then, when they were leaving, Chinku’s father handed over the money that he had brought to the child’s father, while Chinku took out her pocket-money and gave it to the child’s mother.
The husband and wife were greatly moved by this kindness. Their eyes were filled with tears. “May God bless you all immensely,” they said to them as Chinku and her father took their leave.
Chinku and her father headed back home with a heavy heart. They didn’t speak much, because they were both very sad after seeing a sweet little child suffering from cancer and his parents who were finding it very difficult to arrange for money for his treatment.
“You did such a good deed today my dear”helping that child,” Chinku’s father said, breaking the silence after a while. “And you did another good deed”in helping me to learn to help people in need. Thank you for that! May God bless you abundantly!”
“And thank you Papa for being so kind! God bless you, too!” Chinku whispered, resting her tired little head on his shoulder.