Red Butterflies

Hari Krishan Mayer

Red butterflies

Hari Krishan Mayer 

Meet always completed his work with great zeal. He wrote with a good and clear hand. He drew a line in the math exercise book and left some space for the rough work. He had been awarded ‘Good’ on the Punjabi exercise book. But, when the Science teacher started reading Meet’s copy. He dipped his nib- pen in a red ink pot and started marking mistakes. 

He tick-marked ‘right’ and crossed the ‘wrong’ answers. Sometimes he also wrote down something on the copy. Sometimes some formula was not correctly written or a sketch was not properly drawn. After indicating the mistakes he flung the copy towards Meet and said, ”Meet, my son, don’t make so many mistakes tomorrow.” Meet picked up his copy and without looking at the mistakes he put it in his satchel. Meet’s classmates said,” Let us see your copy to know which are the mistakes ?” Meet felt ashamed. Today also, despite their asking him again and again, he did not show his copy.

Overcome by rancour, Meet’s classmates conveyed to his mother,” Aunty, Meet’s copy has been made all red by the Science teacher; he had made so many mistakes.” his mates told all this to his mother on return from the school.

‘Meet, were there so many mistakes in your copy?’ asked his mother.

‘No’, Meet lied.

‘Your classmates have told me.’ replied his mother.

‘Mom.. they are jealous of me; I am quite good in studies and they are very poor.’ Meet made up the story.

‘Alright.. let me see your copy full of mistakes,’ mother demanded the copy but Meet had hidden the copy in the bedroll on return from school. He kept looking into his bag just to show off.

‘Can’t find my copy, Mom, Must have been left at school or someone has taken it out.’, Meet made a lame excuse.

‘The copy had walked from school before you, and reached the bedroll.’ Mother had caught him red handed. Meet lost his colour. Mother understood the whole story. She turned the pages and found that the ink drops from the red pen had left blots on the paper and smudged both sides, which looked like red butterflies. Mistakes had also been corrected.

‘So many mistakes, Meet ?’ Mother asked him.

‘The Science teacher points out so many mistakes.’ Meet conveyed what was in his mind.

‘Don’t the other teachers also point out your mistakes?’ Mother tried to look into the matter.

‘Some make the tick mark while others put their signatures and note the date there-under.’ Meet 


‘You must be liking the teachers who make the tick marks.’ said his mother angrily.

Meet was listening to her quietly.

You have to take no trouble; easy for the teachers and easy for you also. Put the tick mark and note the date.’ His mother had turned furious.

‘Your Science teacher is the best teacher.’ Said his mother to Meet.

‘Observe the mistakes of today carefully. The number of mistakes should come down in the future.’ Mother advised Meet and handed his copy to him.

Meet started pouring his ire on the pages where mistakes had been marked. He picked up a blade and tore out all the leaves containing mistakes. He further tore the leaves into small bits and threw the bits on the rubbish heap. On the next pages, he did his homework.

The next day, Meet went to school. During the Science period, the teacher had the copy books placed on his table.When he started checking the copy books, the first one was that of Meet. The teacher recalled that he had committed many mistakes the previous day. He called Meet and asked him,’ Where are the pages of mistakes noted yesterday.’

‘I have torn them off,’ said Meet.

‘Why?’ The teacher asked him. Meet kept quiet.

‘Will the mistakes be removed by tearing off the leaves?’ the teacher asked him.

Meet was not uttering a word. He stood, lowering his neck.

‘If the committed mistakes are before you, you will remember to correct them and will not commit the same mistakes again. And if you tear off the leaves like this,what would you learn? You will remain as you are today.’ The teacher told him painfully.

‘I will not commit such a mistake in the future.’ Meet assured the teacher.

‘Sure?’ asked the teacher.

‘Yes sir, quite sure.’ Meet said.

Since that day, Meet never tore off the pages bearing crosses made in red ink.

The red butterflies made of ink spreads still appeared on his copybooks many times. Meet viewed every mistake carefully, kept in mind, and didn’t repeat the mistake. His mistakes began to reduce. Then a day came when the Science teacher despite his checking again and again, could not find a single mistake. The teacher called him and hugged him tightly,’ My son, Meet, now you have become pure gold.’ The teacher’s eyes were moist with joy and satisfaction. Meet who had tried to turn his back on the school, stood first in the Board Examination. Meet then never looked back. From school, he went to college and then he was selected for the Indian Foreign Services. A time came when Meet had a very high position in a foreign country.

The red crosses made on the homework copybook, the spots of red ink, and the butterflies made there kept coming every now and then, to his mind. The red butterflies carried him on their wings and he found the doors of fortune opened wide for him.

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