Monday, March 31, 2008

Don't ever cry wolf

When I was ten years old, my father would often, after coming home from work, take me and my sister swimming at our apartment complex pool. My mother was then too shy to don a swimsuit and she was too busy making dinner anyway.

I learned swimming when I was five in Mumbai, but never got to accomplish it without a "floater" around my stomach. In those days, I had a small "barrel" shaped floater with ropes tied around my stomach before jumping into the pool with my teacher.

Upon moving to U.S. from India, my mother immediately enrolled me and my sister for swimming lessons at a YMCA. I finally learned how to do the strokes and the backstrokes without a lifejacket or any other support.

One early evening at our apartment pool as usual with my father and sister, I decided to play a small trick.

My father was only few feet away, in a deep section while I was in the shallow area.

I pretended to suddenly panic and flapped my arms in the water, while screaming for help.

My father made a mad rush to pick me up but to find me instead laughing and saying that it was only a joke.

After telling me not to do it again, with a serious look on his face, my father explained briefly the story of a boy who "cried wolf".

There was a boy who loved to roam in the forest. He decided to play a prank on the villagers. He cried there was a wolf close by. Hearing his plea for help, the villagers rushed to rescue the boy but found him laughing instead. This happened at least two times. Then the third time, for real this time, a wolf appeared near the boy. The boy panicked and screamed loudly for help. But alas, the villagers, thinking it a joke as usual, ignored the boy's cry.

The moral of the story stayed in my mind for years.