Ramesh was an idol- maker living in the outskirts of the main city. His wife had passed away last year and now only he along with his one daughter and two sons were left in the family. There were many other idol- maker families living in that locality. Their occupation was to make beautiful idols and sell them in the city marker. The profit they earned was sufficient for living a contented yet decent lifestyle.

However, this year, they were tired because of the number of idols they had to prepare in the short duration of time. It was double the usual number they were accustomed to and as a result, most of the men were worried about their deliveries. In order to get the payment and complete the orders in the specified time, they started to make the idols hastily but unwillingly. But Ramesh didn’t do the same. He remained awake day and night, putting all his might into his art, hoping that he might complete them successfully before the deadline. His children were worried about him, as he wasn’t taking care of himself and spent most of the day in the courtyard, making the frameworks of the idols. His eldest son, Mahr, was both concerned and angry for his father’s negligence, and so he thought to confront him.

It was a sunny afternoon when Ramesh was sitting in the courtyard of his house and binding the bamboos together with the ropes. Suddenly he heard a clanking sound coming from the kitchen. He got worried thinking that one of his children might have got hurt and that is why without thinking much, he ran inside. “Mahr, what are you doing here and what is this?”, Ramesh motioned towards the scattered utensils and then looked at his son in confusion laced with anger.

“Nothing father. I was trying to cook for all of us since you are too busy to even spare half an hour and prepare food”, Mahr said the words venomously and started to stir the spoon with agility. Ramesh sighed and was about to say in response when Mahr threw the spoon on the floor in frustration and ran out of the house.

Ramesh decided to give him some time and went back to his work. The entire day passed and it was almost the dawn of night. Mahr wasn’t back home and that made Ramesh worried and tensed too. Tagging along with his other two kids, he took a lantern and went out in search of his eldest son. It was almost an hour and they were still searching when suddenly, Aashi, his daughter screamed out Mahr’s name. This attracted both Ramesh’s and his elder son’s attention towards the direction Aashi ran. Finding no one else other than Mahr sitting by the pond, Ramesh released a sigh of relief and walked up to him.

“Mahr, I’m sorry son. Please look at me!”, he pleaded sadly to his son while trying to control his own tears seeing his son’s despair.

“I don’t want to talk with you father. Go and busy yourself in your idol making work. You don’t care for anyone of us. All you think is how to complete your job. Have you seen other fathers and the way they take care of their children? They are working and even spending time with their families”, Mahr said angrily while tears cascaded down his face. Ramesh smiled at his son and took him in his lap much against his protest. “Mahr, I’m sorry for not giving you enough time but son, this is my job. My life is incorporated into this idol- making art. How can I just leave the work? You know what others are doing?”, Mahr and the other two nodded their heads in a no.

“They are somehow building the bamboo framework. The clay covering is very thin and the paste is not too thick. Their idols will never be up to the mark”, he said in a soft tone while trying to channel his message through his words.

“Why? They are also working! But you are spending most of your time in tying up the ropes around the bamboo skeleton and then making the paste! Why father? Why is it so important to make the base strong? After all the people will only judge the idols based on the color and the shape?”, Mahr asked in return while playing with his father’s shirt.
Ramesh smiled and put him down on the ground. Standing up, he walked to the nearby banyan tree and asked his children to come over there. The three kids ran towards the tree and looked at their father. “Mahr, see this tree. Banyan tree are the strongest ones, supporting such a vast canopy. Do you know how it can stand still even after having so much of heavy burden on its top?” Ramesh looked at them and continued, “It is because the roots of this tree go deep into the soil, thus binding the bark and the canopy firmly to the ground. This is what I do. Yes, the external appearance of the idol matters. But you cannot bring out the elegance without making the foundation strong. A weak bamboo skeleton and a thin paste of clay will crush the idol. Then what is the use of coloring it with bright colors?”

Mahr understood his every word and finally smiled wholeheartedly at Ramesh. “Thank you, father. I promise you I will always make the base strong. I will put my soul and my heart into building the strongest infrastructure”, he said in his innocent determined voice and joined his siblings in the chase back to their home. Ramesh smiled and looked back at the Banyan tree. “I know my children will excel in their lives. After all, I have nourished their fundamental essence in your presence”, saying this he went away towards his home.


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