Swami and the Sum
Half an hour later, Swaminathan sat in his father’s room, with a slate in his hand and pencil ready. Father held the arithmetic book open and dictated, “Rama has ten mangoes with which he wants to earn fifteen annas. Krishna wants only four mangoes. How much will Krishna have to pay?”
Swaminathan gazed and gazed at this sum, and every time he read it, it seemed to acquire a new meaning. He had the feeling of having stepped into a fearful maze. His mouth began to water at the thought of mangoes. He wondered what made Rama fix fifteen annas for ten mangoes. What kind of a man was Rama? Probably he was like Sankar [The most brilliant boy in Swami ‘s class. He was said to solve any problem given to him in five minutes]. Somehow, one couldn’t help feeling that he must have been like Sankar, with his ten mangoes and his iron determination to get fifteen annas. If Rama was like Sankar, Krishna must have been like the Pea [another classmate, Samuel, known as the pea on account of his size. He was considered ‘ordinary’ . The bond between Swami and Samuel was laughter]. Here Swaminathan felt an unaccountable sympathy for Krishna.