“I am already 9 and a half year old! Why don`t I get a pet?” Sanasha started off. “My friends got a pet when they were not even born! Then why not me? Even I deserve a pet.”
She ran to her Baba and cried for help. “Baba why don’t I get a pet?”
Baba replied, “Because you are careless and don’t take care of your things.” “What? Don’t you support me in every fight with Maa?”
“Yes, Baba said, but I can’t risk the life of a creature like this! You know that you won’t be able to take care of it and secondly, your mother and I can’t see a creature die, having not being cared for. Ok, I will listen to you only if you pass a test.”
Sanasha said, “What test? I don’t have school now as the lock-down has started.”
“No, not a school test. This is a chance for you to improve yourself. I will be putting a chart from tomorrow, on which I will put points for your good behavior, class work completion, household work completion, discipline and patience. This will be a month long test and I will mark you on a scale of 10 every day.”
Baba explained that she was very impatient so if she can improve on that, she will become less careless. He stated that at the end of the 30 day period, if Sanasha’s marks were more than 85%, then she will get what she asked for.
This was something unheard of…… a test for such a long time.” I am so impatient, I cannot do it,” she said.
Baba told her a story from his own childhood when he had faced something similar. His friends would play football or cricket every day but end up fighting daily too. So the senior most friend in the group suggested to have a test every day on everyone’s conduct. At the end of the period, the highest scorer would get a real nice gift.
Sanasha told him she will never win. She won’t be able to conquer her impatience. Baba said he also felt the same way at the start of their test. But he wanted to win the gift, so he decided to pretend…. to be well behaved, to be patient, to be disciplined and this will fetch him good marks. It was difficult for him at the beginning but as days went by,it began to be easier. He advised me to follow the same plan- to pretend and clarified that if I can pretend for 10 days and slowly I will develop the habit of being good and would no longer have to pretend any further.
The first few days were very difficult and Baba was really strict in his marking. Sanasha recalled his words and started to pretend to be good in everything. Slowly she could see herself improving. It was difficult to not throw things around, to be herself. She was so looking forward to the end of the 30 days so that she could get back to her normal self.. that of being careless and impatient. As days went by, she realized that it was not really that difficult to be well behaved and disciplined. It was truly turning out to be a habit.
She started thinking about the earlier Sanasha who was so careless and ill behaved. This was much better. Having developed these qualities as habits, the rest of the test days were quite normal and she could easily ace the test.
At the end of the test, Sanasha was truly a changed girl. Her gift was an aquarium filled with colorful fishes, more pets that way.
This was Sanasha`s most favorite birthday she had ever celebrated with her family and friends. And this is how she learnt patience.