Another trip down memory lane 🙂 Grew up in a home that was located centrally in the suburb we lived in and easily accessible by public transport or within walking distance for many people. We had many visitors drop by just to say hello or for other specific reasons. Living in a big, crowded city that meant steady stream of visitors on a regular basis. Dad worked as an officer for Indian Government and he was also active as a committee member of local school trying to do his bit of volunteering to give back to society in his own small way. Got to meet an interesting and eclectic group of people, some of them strangers too, as they visited our home. Some folks used to come for a chat about their personal situation and probably just wanted someone to hear them out. If you are patient listener there is always a sob story waiting to be heard 🙂
One group of people were retired Government servants. They would come seeking assistance if their file got stuck in some Government office and needed help in getting the files moving. Dad would speak to the relevant department employee/s to help the folks get the pension due to them. Others looked for help in understanding arcane rules or changes that would affect their pension. They were grateful for whatever help or guidance they got.
Another group of people were those seeking admission to school. Some of them needed admission for their kids because they got transferred in their jobs in the middle of the school year and a word or recommendation could speed up things and/or make the transition smoother. Then there were others who would seek admission after trying in other schools first. It was interesting to hear them say this was their dream school and spin other tales to make their case 😀
The third group of people are the ones I remember the most. Dad was a gazetted officer (similar to a notary in the US) and this position allowed him to certify some documents and photocopies of marksheets. I think this was one level of security to prevent forgery by having an authorized person check the original and certify that the information was correct. I was dad’s trusted lieutenant always enthusiastically whipping out the official stamp and ink pad ready for dad to do the needful. There were some interesting experiences. Dad being interested in education would show me marksheet (result card) of students that had done extremely well and it was very inspiring to see the outstanding results in those pristine marksheets. I recollect one instance when dad refused to certify something that a person wanted. I was kind of surprised and thought why is dad playing so hard and refusing to do his duty of certifying. To my simple mind if anyone came seeking help they had to be helped. After that person had gone I asked my dad the reason. He explained to me that the person wanted certification of low income for some scholarship and it would be wrong to do that without any supporting evidence. Ah, for a moment I forgot that I inherited the desire to help from the way my parents had raised me.
People would show their appreciation for the help received. Once we got a box of milk chocolates from a person who was grateful for a truckload of documents he got certified. I made quick work of those chocolates 😀 My most abiding memory though is of people distributing pedas (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peda) to celebrate their kid’s graduation. While some of them were of high quality there were quite a few that were sugary concoctions that were bad imitations of the good stuff. Just as a high quality ice cream has more cream and less ice a good quality peda should have more khoa (dried whole milk or milk thickened by heating) and less sugar. For a while wiping off memories of those bad pedas became a bit of life mission for me 😀 After I started working I used to buy high quality pedas every now and then till those bad memories were consigned to the dustbin of history 😉
Moral of the story: Did you say I like good pedas? True and close 😀 but that’s not the response I was looking for. Being in a position to help is a blessing and helping others in need without expecting anything in return is the best thing anyone can do! Thanks dad (and mom) for teaching the virtues of helping. It’s the greatest gift anyone can get!