I have known KS and his younger brother DS since my school days.
KS is a year older than I am. He worked in many jobs after schooling and brought up two sons to the best of his ability. The elder son Surya, did extremely well in his studies got scholarships and graduated from one of India’s top IITs with a B.Tech degree and like many of his contemporaries emigrated to the USA where he has flourished. The younger son Chander was able to graduate in humanities and got into the Civil Service with a Chennai posting where he has provided a home and care for his father since the death of his mother ten years ago.
DS on the other hand, failed to get through his matriculations examinations despite three attempts and became a seaman in the Merchant Marine and disappeared from India after a big showdown with his father who had scolded him for not studying enough. His parents and KS gave up all hopes of ever seeing him again some fifty years ago.
I received a phone call from KS yesterday to relate to me the following story.
DS landed up in Chennai some days ago and after much searching using all possible resources was able to locate KS and called on him two days ago. It was a grand reunion with much emotional scenes and reminiscences which went on for a few hours. It turned out that DS had settled down in Europe after getting married to a European and is now a citizen there. He has apparently established himself well with his in-laws and now manages their family business.
Chander hurried home from his office after a phone call from his father about the visit of DS and met his uncle for the first time. It was soon time enough for DS to depart and before he did, he told KS “You are very lucky. I wish that my son was like yours.”
Chander overheard this and became very emotional and at the door as DS was leaving hugged DS and was in tears. DS consoled him and asked him why he was crying. On Chander telling him that he was crying because he was overwhelmed by the praise he received from DS about wanting his son to be like him, DS without thinking said, “I was talking about Surya who has done so well in the USA” and left.
Naturally, Chander was inconsolable with the snub. It took many hours of comforting from KS and Chander’s wife before he could be pacified.
KS wanted to share his own angst and called me to vent on.
I too was and continue to be amazed at the thoughtless comment made by DS. Had I been in his shoes, even if I had originally meant the comment about Surya, I would have used the opportunity to praise Chander for looking after his father in the latter’s old age etc. I suppose that such thoughtfulness does not come easily to people who have been away from the family for decades.
What would have been your response had you been in DS’s shoes?