THE FORTUNE COOKIES
Ashok was born in a family of very humble means. His father, Bhola,worked in a bakery and his mother ,Maya , was a house maid. Bhola and Maya worked tirelessly to bring up their children, son Ashok and a daughter, Tara . They worked hard to provide the best facilities and education for their children.
Tara was a bright and confident child , but Ashok was shy and reticent since childhood , both at home and school. As years passed, he became more reserved and suffered from low esteem .
" Ashok what is your problem? Your grades are falling " , asked a worried Bhola one day . " Nothing"snapped Ashok and went to his room . In the room , Tara tried to get out of him what was the matter was. Without saying a word , Ashok rolled over on the other side and closed his eyes . Tara knew it was a futile effort to make her brother talk . So she picked up a book and began to read .
Most of the days Ashok returned from the school irritable and angry . Maya and Ashok were worried . They just couldn't fathom what had happened to Ashok. Tara too now felt that the issue was getting a bit serious and out of hand. She thought of doing something about it. On the sly, she talked to one of Ashok's classmate about Ashok's behaviour. Hesitatingly, Hari told Tara about a few class bullies who tormented Ashok . Tara reported the matter to her parents .
" Hmmm! So this is what the matter is ", said Bhola scratching his chin. Over cups of tea , they made a plan to solve the problem.
A few days later it was Ashok's birthday . His mother had made his favourite dishes for the small humble party . Tara gave him a handmade card . His father returned from the bakery early that day. Handing over a box of his favourite rich chocolate cake , Bhola said , " My boss has sent this for you" . Tara excitedly put the cake on a plate and kept it on the table along with tea and goodies Maya had made. Tara looked more excited than the birthday boy himself. Ashok mechanically cut the cake .
" This is your birthday gift from us " said Bhola giving him a brown paper bag. Ashok opened the packet and put his hand inside it . Swirling his hand around , he picked up a cookie . He was about to put the delicious smelling cookie in his mouth when Bhola shrieked ," Wait don't pop it in your mouth now . Break it into two first ."
Ashok had no choice but to do as his father said . Maya and Tara too were getting impatient to see what would happen on breaking the cookies .
Ashok broke the cookie into two . There was a small piece of paper neatly folded inside . Crumpling the paper and throwing it on the floor , Ashok shared the cookie with his parents and sister. Bhola picked up the crumpled paper from the floor. Giving it to Ashok he asked Ashok to read it . Unwillingly Ashok read , " You will be a winner soon " . " Nonsense" Ashok snorted , putting the paper in his pocket . " Ashok , this is not an ordinary paper. It is your fortune ," said Bhola.
" What crap , papa . I don't believe this rubbish , " growled Ashok stomping out of the house.
Next day, he went to school as usual with Tara. He was confronted with the three bullies of his class .As usual they began teasing Ashok .
" His mother is a maid and his father is a baker " they sang .
Ashok felt his blood boiling and rushing to his face . His jaws tightened and fingers of his hands curled into a fist . Just then the principal came there on his morning round. The bullies took to their heels and fled . Ashok was caught . The principal asked him to follow him to his room.
" What is the matter Ashok? " asked the principal angrily.
" Sir I am not at fault . It was they who were teasing me ." replied Ashok .
Ashok then mustered up all his courage and told the principal how he was a victim of bullism regularly .
" Are you telling the truth?" enquired the principal skeptically .
" I swear sir .I am telling you the truth " said Ashok wiping his tears .
The principal assured Ashok , I will look into the issue soon . Now you go to class.
After thorough investigation, the principal gave the verdict in favour of Ashok .
Ashok returned home happy . He remembered the little paper in the cookie . It had boosted his confidence to speak up and fight for his rights. Tara was also happy that the matter was now resolved . He was now a winner without hurting anyone . Truth had prevailed . From that day onwards there was a distinct change in his behaviour and attitude.
It was time for the board exams. Ashok was preparing very hard . " Ashok , why don't you take some rest and then study again" said Tara .
Bhola came to the room . Ruffling Ashok's uncombed hair , he gave him another cookie . Tara snatched it away from her father's hand . Taking out the paper which was inside it , she popped the cookie in her mouth . Ashok opened the slip and read
" Your hard work will pay ."
Both Ashok and Tara performed extremely well in the exams . Ashok got admission in a prestigious college . Tara got the stream of her choice . Ashok did brilliantly in college, academically and in co curricular activities also . Years later Tara became a chartered accountant and Ashok a lawyer . By their hard work, dedication and persevarance they were now well placed in their respective fields.
Years later, Bhola passed away. One day while rummaging through his father's belongings , Ashok found a cardboard box . On opening it , Ashok found many small crumpled pieces of paper . Ashok's eyes welled up as he unfolded the papers and read the messages . They were the fortune cookie messages which had helped him to be what he was today _ a confident , hard working, well known and successful lawyer. He owed it all to his parents .