‘Different’ (Deferent?) Strokes
Ram is in class 8. He is a good sportsman. He sings and dances well. Also he paints well.
“You have talent in different fields,’’ appreciated Ram’s paternal uncle Kishan.
“He is indifferent to studies,’’ parents of Ram disapproved.
“But he is different,’’ Kishan explained.
“We don’t want him to be different,’’ the parents asserted.
“Then you are indifferent to his other talents,’’ blamed Kishan.
“Let him defer those other talents and concentrate on studies,’’ the parents suggested.
“I differ with you in this regard,’’ Kishan tried to close the conversation.
“In deference to your opinion, may I suggest to Ram to continue his indifference to studies?’’ Ram’s father enquired sarcastically.
“Ram will prove that he is different but not defiant with respect to studies. Please defer your deference to my view till next examination. He may defy your opinion,’’ pleaded Kishan.
Kishan was right. Ram’s scores improved considerably in the next examination. An appreciative teacher told him that he was better.
That night Ram boasted on this to his younger sister Lila. Kishan was also sitting alongside her. While Lila was responding with matching appreciation, Kishan nodded in disapproval and said, “You should be good. Not better!’’
Ram was surprised. “Better is above good. Do you want me to go down?’’ he asked.
“You are mistaken. Good is an absolute term and better is relative. Suppose you were bad and then became better. That means you are less bad now. Good means good, but better may not mean good. Understand?’’ clarified Kishan.
“You cannot have good words for others. That’s why many call you a bitter man,’’ Ram could not conceal his disappointment.
“When I said sweet words, some called me butter man also,’’ smiled Kishan, “but I would like to be called a better man?’’
“Why? Are you not sure that you are good?’’ Ram was curious.
“I know how to use the word better better. Hence the name,’’ laughed Kishan.
By that time Lila slept and Ram was feeling sleepy. “I got the point. Good night uncle!’’ he said.
“Good night Ram and Lila!’’ Kishan stood up to leave.
“But Lila is sleeping already. How can you say good night to a sleeping person?’’ exclaimed Ram.
Kishan smiled. He said, “Good night Ram and Better night Lila’’ and left the scene.