A few years ago there was a bad little boy in a village whose name was Ram –though if you had noticed, you would know that nearly all good boys in the stories are called Ram. But this one was bad and called Ram.
He was not poor and didn’t have to eat only one meal a day – a poor family struggling to make ends meet, and the boy who had to work in the morning and study in the evening under the light of kerosene lamp, and a mother who was proud of her hardworking son and believed he would one day become a great person. Most stories have good boy Ram as protagonist whose family was poor and lives in a village. But it was different with this boy. His family was not poor. His mother fed him five times a day and bashed him if he did not do his homework.
Once this little bad boy Ram stole the keys of the wardrobe, and slipped in there slowly and opened it. He saw a stack of 50rs notes and slipped one into his pocket; but all at once a guilty feeling didn’t come over him, and something didn’t seem to whisper to him, “Am I doing a bad thing? How will my mother react if she found out? Will the God punish him for this?” and he didn’t shed the tears of realization and put the 50rs note back in the wardrobe. No; that is how all good boys in the stories do; but it happened otherwise with this Ram, strangely enough. He slipped the note into his pocket, ran along with his poor friend to the shop where they serve his favorite puffed rice mixed with salt, chilly powder and fried curry leaves along with pieces of raw onions and both savored the dish. His parents did not find out about this. Nothing like it in any of the stories in school books.
Once he kissed Lavanya on her cheek in his 4th standard. She was his classmate and it was her birthday. He took the laddoo she offered and kissed her. He was afraid of two things then. One was that almost half of the students in class saw him kissing and second, the girl was the daughter of the teacher who was going to take the next class. The teacher entered the class and didn’t inquire what had happened, and students who saw him kissing didn’t tell the teacher what they saw a minute ago, and she didn’t crucify him and didn’t ask his parents to meet her. It was very strange – nothing like it ever happened. Instead, the teacher walked into class and her daughter walked back quietly to her seat with a blank face, and when he looked at others, all he saw was shocked and smiling faces. He breathed a sigh of relief and nobody spoke about it afterwards. Everything about this boy was curious -everything turned out differently with him from the way it does to the Ram(s) in the stories.
When his mother asked him to study at home, he opened his story book and covered it with his class book by placing it behind. For someone who saw from a distance, it looked as if he was staring deeply at his class books. He studied just for the sake of it and was never interested in his class books. Ram picked fights and thrashed few boys and he was glad of it because, you know, Ram hated moral boys.
But the strangest thing that happened to Ram was the time he went swimming on Sunday, and didn’t get drowned, and that other time that he got caught shoplifting, and didn’t lose his two eyes. Why, you might look, and look, all through the stories from now till next summer, and you would never come across anything like this. Oh no; you would find that all the bad boys who go swimming invariably get drowned; and all the bad boys who does bad things would lose their eyes. How this Ram escaped is a mystery to me.
This Ram bore a charmed life-that must have been the way of it. Nothing could hurt him. He spoke foul language. He was after girls and didn’t study much. He stole his father’s bike and went out with friends early in the morning. He learn’t how to smoke and taught others. He ran off and went to sea at last, didn’t come back and find himself sad and alone in the world, his loved ones sleeping far away in his village. Ah, no; he went to his room as drunk as a piper, and woke up in the bathroom next day.
And he grew up and got a job, like most of the good boys did. He was a good boy to his parents and friends.
So you see there never was a good Ram in the stories and school books that had such a streak of luck as this sinful Ram with the charmed life.
MY VERSION OF MARK TWAIN’S ‘THE STORY OF THE BAD LITTLE BOY’.