Goodness sprouts in the most unexpected of places. When the city life bustled with greed and deceit, a tiny bit of innocence was born in the slum outskirts of the city, in the form of eight year old Biju.
Biju’s family barely managed to survive on their meagre resources. They lived in a tiny ‘house’, if it could be called so, with a tin roof. His lived with his parents, an elder brother and a little sister who hadn’t yet turned one. The whole family contributed in making money for the house. But Biju wasn’t really happy with their ways.
His parents were pickpockets. Often, it started with an act of begging, and his mother would use his baby sister as a way to invite pity. And then they would steal someone’s wallet or snatch away jewellery. His father was fired from the factory he worked in once, and since then he hadn’t been able to find a job, and found it easier to steal, since it required no qualification. They had expected their kids to do the same. And so they did, at least his brother, but Biju was a rebel. He wasn’t going to do all of that.
His parents would force him to go out in the streets, and he would, but never steal. But in the evening, he would present the family with quite a humble sum of money, surely not a lot, but some. Where did he get this money from?
Well, it seems God had gifted him with both morality and creativity. He would roam around the streets and collect any small pieces of plastic, bottle caps, and bits of metal that he could find. He would then settle near the lake and join those bits and pieces together to create toys – yes, toys – small, dynamic toys. He once created a tiny car that actually ran, and a monkey that jumped and a little drum that banged itself when it was spun. He made all sorts of toys, all different. He then sold those for a sum of five or ten Rupees each.
One night, he returned home to find himself in a quarrel that took place almost every few days.
“I don’t like what you do,” he would say.
“Then you don’t have to live here,” his father would say.
“Please, he’s just a kid,” his mother would say.
“It’s alright Ma, you all will never understand,” he would say, and go to bed hungry. It was like a routine, but Biju was now fed up with it.
The next day he woke up fully determined to do something big. He worked twice as hard to collect all the stuff that he could and went by the lake to build something. Surprisingly, he couldn’t think of any ideas today. It was getting late, so he picked his stuff and went by the road to sell the toys he had made the other day.
He got a few customers, most of whom were accompanied by stubborn little kids who just wanted that one toy. Others were people who admired his skills.
Evening had fallen. He hadn’t made a really good business today. Just as much as he earned every other day, perhaps a bit less. He had started to pack his stuff when suddenly a black car stopped in front of him. He looked up at the car and it’s passengers curiously. It was obvious that they had come to buy his toys, but he wasn’t really sure, since it wasn’t the usual type of vehicle that came to buy his stuff. It was much, much bigger.
A man in a black suit stepped out of the car. He bent down, removed his glasses and studied Biju’s toys intently.
“Are you Biju?” he asked.
“Y-yes, sir,” Biju replied, surprised that someone just called him by his name.
“Did you make these toys yourself?” he asked again.
“Yes sir, all of them.”
“Where did you get these designs? Did you copy them off from somewhere?”
“No, sir. They are all my own.”
The man studied the toys once again.
“How much do you earn in a day?”
“About 80 to 100 rupees.”
“You are a really talented boy. I want you to come with me,” the man finally said. “You make these toys and I’ll sell them. I have a very big company. We’ll earn a lot together.”
“Really?” Biju asked in surprise, hopes rising to the sky. “How much money will I get?”
“Enough for you to live like a king. You’ll have a very big room, all to yourself, and new clothes and good food. You can even go to school if you want.”
“And my family?”
“You’re coming alone. This offer is just for you. You have the talent. And only talent sells. Now tell me, will you come with me?”
Biju ran the things over in his mind. Go with him, a voice said. It’s all for your own good, away from poverty, away from all struggle, away from all evil. That’s right, he thought. Good food, good clothes, education… and money, all from his own talent.
But what will he do with the money? Who’ll he earn the money for if his family’s not with him? Don’t go, a second voice said. You can’t just leave your family alone.
What will he do then? the first voice said. Go back into all the evil? Live with a family of crooks? Of course not! He’s got a whole life ahead of him.
Biju heard the two voices in silence, the voices of his conscience. Going back home was what he should do. But wouldn’t he be supporting the bad by doing that? So obviously it was better to go with the man and live a life of honesty. But wouldn’t it be bad to leave his family all alone and enjoy all the luxury alone? What was good, what was bad?
It’s not about good or bad, a third voice said, calmer and firmer than the first two. It’s about love. Good doesn’t always win, bad never should. But love always must.
It was 10:30 in the night. But Biju hadn’t yet returned home. His parents were pacing through the house, half angry, half worried. His brother was out looking for him in the streets. He couldn’t find him anywhere.
A while later, there was a knock on the door and Biju entered the house. His father burst on him instantly. He screamed and screamed, but Biju didn’t say a word. After he left, Biju ran to his mother and hugged her tight.
“Why didn’t you go?” she asked.
“How do you know about it?”
“Perhaps I can read your mind. Because I love you.”
“Which is why I didn’t go.”