There was tension in the air as mother stood behind her daughter’s chair in the dinning room. Today’s menu for lunch was jackfruit and curd with Roti. The little girl had her eyes and her plate full. She refused to eat the jackfruit. Mother was equally adamant. She would have to eat it! There was no way that mother was going to let the girl leave the table without eating the much detested vegetable. How else would she learn to eat all kinds of vegetables? The father had promised his wife that he would let her take the forefront when it came to discipline, so he watched in silence. Grandma looked disgusted at the attitude of the mother. The tension was unnerving.
The poor child looked at the revolting mass in her plate and felt that if she ate it, she would definitely throw up. Suddenly she said, “Okay, if I eat it, will you grant me a wish?” Father grabbed the opportunity to resolve the situation and said quickly, “Yes honey, whatever you say. Just finish it fast and tell me what you want. I’ll get it for you.” The girl said, “It may not be a ‘thing’. It may be something else.” Father said, “Don’t worry; I’ve given you my promise. Now gobble it up.” The girl put a spoonful of jackfruit into her mouth and made a face as if she was tasting poison. The mother said, “See that you don’t go overboard in asking for a wish. After all, it’s just a bowl of jackfruit. It’s not such a big deal after all!”
The girl ate it all up, washed it down with a whole glass of water and then said quickly, “I want to get my head shaved!”
Mother’s spoon fell from her hand, with a clatter and grandma almost fainted. “What rubbish! That’s impossible; don’t even dream about it. Silly girl!” said mother. For once Grandma seemed to see eye to eye with her daughter in law but chose to keep silent. Father said, “Look my child, this is quite a ridiculous thing to ask for; be reasonable and I shall surely let you have your way.” But the girl was adamant. “Daddy you promised me. You gave me your word. It was a bargain.” Daddy said, “But darling you shall look obnoxious. Why don’t we buy you a nice Barbie doll instead?” “But I don’t want a doll; I just want to get my head shaved. You have always taught me about the value of honouring your word, what about that now? You are going back on your word. It’s so unfair!” she said in a trembling voice.
Looking at the little girl’s tear filled eyes, Daddy’s heart melted, although he could not make out head or tail of why she wanted to do such a weird thing. He said, “She has done her part. If we do not honour our word, she will never learn to honour hers. And how does it matter anyway? Its just hair! It will grow back. What’s the big deal about it?” Mother said, “Who ever heard of a girl getting her head shaved? I will not allow it.” Father stood his ground. “No,” he said. “You had your way; now don’t be unfair to her and stop making a fuss!”
Father took the girl to the barber and got the job done. Later in the evening, he took her to the park to play as he did every evening. A short while later a boy came to the park. Father was surprised to note that the boy too had no hair on his head. He did not understand, was this the latest fashion or what? Just then a lady, apparently the bald boy’s mother came up to him and said, “You have quite a daughter. She promised my son that she would get her head shaved, so that the other children at the park would not jeer at him. But I never thought she would actually live up to it.”
The man was even more confused now, “But, why did your son have to get his head shaved?” he asked. She tried to smile bravely and said, “Oh no! My son did not have to get his head shaved. You see he has leukaemia. During the chemotherapy he lost all his hair and was refusing to come out of the house. He was afraid that the other children would make fun of him. But your daughter coaxed him on the phone to come today, saying that she too would come with her head shaved to make sure that no body laughed at him!”
That is love! Pure and simple! No strings attached! Truly, the most precious things in life can not be made or bought, they are gifted to us by God; we just have to realize how precious they are.