On a warm Saturday afternoon, I was standing outside my house feeding the birds that often used to come by at this time of the day. I then saw a huge swing, in the shape of a dragon ship, being pulled slowly into the street where I lived.

It was painted bright yellow and red, and was quite eye-catching. It was managed by an old operator with a pleasant and welcoming smile.

I, along with my friends, went to enquire from him about the swing. He explained that he will station the ride in this street for a week before moving to his next destination. All the children, especially the younger ones, jumped with excitement. The swing had a loud, melodious bell. The operator rang it as a sign to invite the children to take a ride on the swing.

Every day he would give rides to the children. They used to clap and cheer when it went faster. The pirate ship swung in a pendulum-like motion. It was pushed by the operator in this way for about five minutes which was the fixed duration for each ride. Before the last minute, the operator would stop pushing the swing so that the ride could slowly come to a standstill. While disembarking, every child would hand over five rupees to the swing operator.

When the ride began, the operator’s son played a fine tune on his handy flute. The sounds of tiny bells which were attached to the edge of the swing blended well with the flute’s sound to spread the joy of a well composed symphony. Soon the pirate ship ride became the talk of our small neighbourhood.

One day as the operator was giving rides, he noticed two innocent little girls quietly observing the dragon ship. Their mother worked as a maid in a nearby house. When the children got off, he went to the girls and asked if they wanted to have a turn on the ship. They said they wanted to but they did not have any money.

“Come over here, you can ride for free,” said the operator.

The girls refused as it seemed unfair and replied, “We do not want to beg.”

“No problem,” said the operator. “I will give you a ride every day and you will not have to pay me. You will earn your rides by helping me line up the children for taking a turn on the ride and safely getting them off when it stops.”

The girls happily agreed. They did as the operator told them.

From that day onwards, the girls equally enjoyed the swing as the other kids in the neighbourhood. Despite their lack of money, the work the operator gave them earned them enough satisfaction and soon they were out of the clutches of isolation.

The joy of getting something after having worked for it is greater than getting it for free. Don’t you think so too?

Updated Aug 04, 2012 03:14am

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