The Crow's Feathers
“You should teach students discipline, humility and respect, and instill in them the spirit of service and the sense of fellowship. Imbue your children with confidence and courage. Unify them through love and love alone; give no room for anger, jealousy or hatred within you and teach the children the three P’s: Purity, Patience and Perseverance. Armed with these three qualities, your students can protect the nation better than any army or atom bombs.” (Bhagwan Baba)
In the school parking lot was a large Peepal tree. There was a crow’s nest on it. The boys were to park their bicycles in the parking lot. Crow’s feathers were often seen strewn around. When the boys entered the final class of high school, their English teacher made a strange request. “Boys, this is your final year in school. I am a collector of crow’s feathers. If ever you see one fallen in the school, do pick it up and give it to me.”
So, all through the year, someone or the other would find a crow’s feather and give it to the teacher. On the last day of school was a farewell dinner organized for the outgoing class. Each of the boys was asked to come up to the dais and collect his certificates. The Principal handed over the certificates to each boy with a pat on the back and a word of encouragement to some; and a rap on the back with a word of reprimand to others. The English teacher handed over to each boy, a feather!
The feathers had all been painted golden or silver. Each of them had a message written on it. The messages were like:
1 There is no substitute for hard work. Never give up!
2 Whenever in doubt, look up and you shall find God smiling down at you!
3 You are special. Add value to the world!
4 You are the brightest star in the sky!
5 Surf the inner net before you surf the internet!
Thirty years down the line, Amitas a CEO at a BPO was in deep thought. Business was going down. Costs were on the incline and receipts were on the decline. Attrition rate in the staff was unusually high. To put it concisely, things were just not good. In an endeavor to find some peace, Amitas had taken a weekend holiday trip to a resort in the hills at Shimla. He sat in the sun, a medley of thoughts zig zagging through his tired brain. His ten year old daughter cut through his thoughts, “Papa, I want to have corn on the cob. Let’s go to the market place.” Absent mindedly he reached for his wallet to give her some money saying, “Honey, why don’t you and your brother take a stroll and get it. I just want to be lazy.” As he opened his wallet, a golden feather fell out of it. His daughter asked, “Papa, what’s that?”
He looked at it thoughtfully and said, “A teacher from school gave it to me. But I haven’t looked at it for ages.” She peered closely and read the half faded words inscribed on it, “Whenever in doubt, look up and you shall find God smiling down at you.”
Spontaneously, the father and daughter raised their heads to look up. Up above, on the balcony of the second floor, stood an old man. He waved and smiled at them. A shiver ran down Amitas’s spine. Hurriedly he ran upto the balcony. “Excuse me, aren’t you Raghavendra Sir.”
“Yes, I am,” slowly said the old man.
“Sir, I am Amitas, I was your student in school. You gave me this feather.”
For what seemed like eternity, the two men chatted and caught up on the thirty years that had elapsed. Strangely, the heart to heart talk seemed to ease out the tensions in his mind. Surely coincidences are incidents where God chooses to remain silent, but He is surely looking on!
At the next annual school reunion, Amitas made it a point to invite Raghavendra Sir, as the Guest of honour. And guess what? Most of the boys recounted having treasured their feathers. Emotional stories tumbled out and bonded the boys even closer. Here were birds of a feather, flocking together and you know who was smiling with tear filled eyes, don’t you?