Srini noticed the freshly installed drinking water fountains at the airport while waiting for his flight.
‘One of the bizarre discoveries!’ Srini murmured.
Whenever Srini tried drinking from such fountains, he would find himself bent in a strange posture and soon drenched all over.
‘Easy and hygienic, my foot! I must find which fool replaced our simple taps with these clumsy systems.’
Srini marched towards the Airport office to complain, but halted abruptly.
‘I won’t be an Indian citizen much longer.’
Srini was in love with his motherland, so much so that when the western commodes were introduced, he used to sit on even those in Indian style. Of course, he stopped doing that when the commode rim width got too narrow for him to keep his balance.
He was in double mind about sacrificing his Indian citizenship. He had got an amazing job in Canada and an irresistible offer where even his retired life would be secure, as long as he became a Canadian citizen. Unfortunately, India did not support dual citizenship.
For Srini it was unimaginable to not teach the kids in the tribal hamlet on the weekends, which he had been doing for the last two years.
Last Sunday, when he revealed the news to the kids, they embraced him tight, and wasn’t ready to leave him.
Srini was having the greatest dilemma of his life. He was looking for a nudge. He remembered how a little pat from Jyotsna miss had helped him cross the school gate that was like a jail to him, or his father’s passing remark that ‘engineering is an application of physics’, made him choose an engineering career suppressing his love for pure science.
His flights departure was announced. He bent to pick the luggage and found a piece of paper under his seat. It read “Don’t leave!” in big letters.
The handwriting looked vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t recall who it was.
This was the sign he was looking for. He went to Canada, but came back to India within a few months. The extra money he earned helped him to establish an organization with likeminded people and expand his educational activities to more hamlets.
The organization grew multifold in a few years. In three decades, he became a household name for being instrumental in providing quality education in the remotest pockets of the country.
‘Congratulations Sir.’ He received a handwritten note from the youngest and first tribal president of the country, the night before he was to be conferred the national award.
He took out the faded paper with ‘Don’t leave’ message, which he had kept all these years. It was a striking match.
“You might remember, on that day, I had asked you your flight time. I had given the paper to my distant uncle who worked at the airport as a gardener.’ The president told him after the award ceremony.
‘Your uncle had actually pushed it under my chair, but that was good enough,’ Srini smiled.
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