Once upon a time, Gopal wanted to steal raspberries from neighbor’s garden. He was a good boy, he lived in a small house with his father, Rajesh and mother, Shivani. Rajesh was a worker in the Golden Press and Shivani ran clothes ironing business from home, but after paying the many bills, his school fees and house rent, in month end they never had enough budget remainder to live fullest.
Every day walking to home from school, he’d watch his classmates buy and share sweet colorful berries from the fruit market but no one shared with him. “You don’t know how much my back aches working in a press, if you want money you should know how hard it is to earn it” Rajesh told him when he asked twenty rupees for buying raspberries and denied him money. “If you will help me by pressing these clothes then I will give you some money” Shivani told him when he asked her.
Gopal did help his mother by pressing two shirts and three trousers and in return she gave him five rupees. He wasn’t satisfied and frowned that his parents didn’t understand how much he wants to eat some tasty juicy berries, so he had a quarrel with Shivani and she shut him up with a harsh slap.
Gopal ran from home and hid in a playground near his school. He sat behind a tree and cried. All he wanted were some berries and he didn’t understand why he couldn’t have them without money.
When evening broke out, Gopal decided to go home and apologize Shivani. Hardly did he walk out of the gate, the playground watchman caught him. “I finally caught one of you monkeys, your friends climb over the wall and steal flowers from the bushes to sell in market! Now I will take you to police, you thief!” poor Gopal was frightened and confused. “No I don’t know them, I didn’t do anything!” he said and the watchman seemed determined to not let him go.
Then an old man holding hands with a little boy came out through the gate and told the watchman to let Gopal go with a warning this time. But the watchman didn’t, he checked Gopal’s trousers and shirt and found the five rupees coin, he kept the coin as a penalty and then let him go.
Gopal was returning home after getting robbed for mischief he didn’t do, he feared that Shivani would ask where he spend his money. He walked along the fence of his rich neighbor’s dwelling reluctantly, he saw the neighbor’s daughter brought a basket of raspberries out of the house, put it on the grass and went back inside. The raspberries were bright red and pulpy. He wanted to have some, he climbed over the fence and ran toward the basket to pick a handful. He lodged both his hands in the basket and smiled feeling the berries slushy and soft as he closed his palms. When he stood up to run back over the fence, he saw the neighbor’s daughter standing before him and she screamed “Thief! Thief!”
Gopal dropped the berries and asked her to shut up, then her family came outside. Gopal tried to run away but he was a small boy, the girl’s father caught him on the fence and took him to the police station.
The neighbor told the officer that Gopal trespassed in his garden, tried to steal raspberries and tried to hurt his daughter. The officer called Gopal’s parents and scolded them for their careless attitude toward their son. Rajesh apologized the girl’s parents and the officer for Gopal’s mischief but the neighbor humiliated Rajesh for his upbringing and held his upbringing and morale responsible for Gopal’s mentality to steal. Rajesh hired an autorickshaw to go back home.
When Gopal and his parents returned home, Rajesh scolded him and slapped him. Shivani didn’t say much, she said it is disappointing that even after sacrificing their own wants to pay his school fees, he doesn’t understand how much important it is for him to study and get good grades in examinations but he wastes his time by fooling around.
Gopal was sad and scared. Next day, he walked to his school taking a different route, dismayed and lost in his own thoughts. When he entered in his classroom, his classmates started shouting “Thief! Thief! Thief!” The neighbor’s daughter came to him and said “Oh my god Gopal, I didn’t know you were so poor that you would steal. If you wanted some berries you could have asked me, I would’ve given you some left overs” and every kid laughed at him. He turned around to run away but his teacher stopped him and told every one to quit down.
One boy stood on a bench and said “He is a thief, miss. My grandfather saw him yesterday in the playground, the watchman caught him stealing flowers” Then Gopal cried that he didn’t steal any flowers. Another boy said that he doesn’t want to share bench with Gopal. The teacher said Gopal to stop crying, she made him sit on her chair and then continued the social class.
After the class, all kids went down to play in the school’s playground except Gopal. The teacher asked him if he really stole the flowers. He said he didn’t steal any flowers but he tried to steal some raspberries and that he was sorry about it. The teacher said “Remember dear Gopal, there will be times when you want something badly and you wouldn’t get it but you should never try to steal it amorally. You should work harder and strive for it and you will never fail but once a thief, always a thief. Okay?”
“Okay, thank you teacher” He said.
“Now, if you are not playing with your friends, lets go to the fruit market and have some raspberries together. Shall we?”
And he nodded with a big smile.