Monday, February 13, 2012


               A young man was sitting in front of his house, reading the news paper. His father, a very old man was seated nearby, looking at the garden. He had started to lose his memory and the abilities of sight and hearing. Suddenly a bird arrived and sat on a short tree. The father asked, "Son, what is that?" The son looked at it and replied, "It is a crow." The father repeated his question, "What is that?" The son thought that his father had not heard his answer and so repeated, in a louder tone, "It is a crow!"
               The old man repeated the same question again. The son frowned angrily. He repeated his answer, more loudly. Then the father asked again, "What is that?" The young man shouted at the top of his voice, "Can't you understand? How many times I have told you? It is only a crow!" With these words, the furious son rose from his chair, threw the paper to the ground violently and rushed into the house in an uncontrollable rage. The old man sat there for some more time and returned to his room with shaking legs. He opened his old trunk and found out his old diary where he used to record every incident of his life. He slowly turned the pages and reached the page which recounted the day when he celebrated the third birthday of his son. He stared at the page and tears rolled down  his wrinkled cheeks. He sat in that posture for a long time. Later, when his son came in search of him, he saw the open diary and his father in a pensive mood. Out of curiosity, he read the open page of the old diary. It read thus: "Today we celebrated the third birthday of my dear son. After the noon meals, I sat in the courtyard with my son in my lap. Suddenly a crow flew in and sat near us. My son asked me eagerly, "What is that, Daddy?" I answered him, "It is a crow, my dear." He repeated the question at least twenty times and every time I gave the same answer, hugging him tightly every time I answered his innocent query. His repeated enquiries did not anger me. It made me love him more and more. It gave me satisfaction and joy to be able to answer his innocent enquiries again and again."
               Reading this account of his own innocent inquiries and the patient and affectionate replies and reactions of his father, the young man felt ashamed of his ruthless reaction to his father's questions. He knelt down at his father's legs and cried in deep sorrow, begging his pardon again and again.
               All religions teach us to respect and love our parents. Innocent inquiries, comments, directions, remarks or requests of our aged parents should not infuriate us.
               The Holy Quran teaches us, " Your Lord has decreed: Do not worship any but Him; Be kind to your parents; and should both or any one of them attain old age in your life, do not say to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but speak to them with respect and be humble and tender to them and say, "Lord, show mercy to them as they nurtured me when I was small" {Holy Quran, Chapter 17 (AL-ISRA) verses 23-24}.
               The 'Taittiriya Upanishad', a Sacred  Hindu Scripture, teaches, "Matru devo Bhava, Pitru devo Bhava, Acharya devo Bhava, Atithi devo Bhava" advocating to honour one's mother, father, teacher and guest as God. This is repeated in the popular axiom in Indian culture, "Matha, Pitha, Guru Deivam." which urges a child to treat his mother, father and teacher as equal to God and give due respect and reverence to the three persons who lead us to God.
               The Old Testament of the Bible prescribes the following in the ten commandments of God, "Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you" {Exodus 20: 12; Deuteronomy 5: 16}.  St. Paul advises, "Children, it is your Christian duty to obey your parents, for this is the right thing to do. "Respect your father and mother' is the first commandment that has a promise added: 'so that all may go well with you, and you may live a long time in the land" {Ephesians 6: 1-3}.
               The Book of proverbs advises, "It is better to be patient than powerful. It is better to win control over yourself than over whole cities" {Proverbs 16: 32}. "Listen to your father; without him you would not exist. When your mother is old, show her your appreciation" {Proverbs 23: 22}.
© By: Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India, Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally and Leo. S. John, Maniparambil, Ooriyakunnath, Kunnumbhagom, Kanjirappally, Kottayam-686507, Kerala, India.
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