"Even though growing among mud and sludge, the lotus is always clean and pure."
We were taught to do good even if we grew up among the wicked, but is it remotely possible at a young age when we are easily influenced and have not the capacity to steer our will toward the good?
My parents moved to a strange place when I was five or six years old. People looked very different from the old place and I didn't understand anything they said to me in the form of a series of sound made by the rolling of their tongues. We had to fly in an enormous airplane--that was really fun, for the first couple of hours anyway--and take a long car ride to get there.
I was a little scared of the people there, but I tried not to show it because a boy should be brave--that was what my mother said. She also said "Be nice to your sister" a lot but I found that hard to do, since she was very annoying and I didn't understand why my parents liked her so much.
We lived with my grand parents in a two-story house with a red door. I think we had the only red door in the neighborhood. My grand parents had been living there for a while so they could speak a little of that strange language, but my parents had to learn it just like me--only they didn't go to school like I did.
My grandpa walked both of us to and from the school most of the time. Sometimes my mother would take us. I was the happiest walking with my mother. Her hand was soft unlike grandpa's. Her smile was more pleasing to watch, too. But my sister had to be there to distract my mother's attention by talking childish things, and to hold her other hand.
My father got me new book bag and notebooks and an awesome mechanical pencil--my very first one--before the first day, and both my parents took us to the new school on the first day. I was a little scared and felt lost when my parents left us. For the first time I was happy my sister was there with me, although she didn't speak or understand the language either.
I had no idea what was going on, but I knew a recess was coming up when everyone in the class went outside. I left the pencil, which was the envy of my classmates, on the desk and went outside as well. Imagine my horror when I came back to find that my brand new pencil was gone. I looked around and couldn't tell who took it, and I couldn't tell the teacher what had happened either. The helplessness and agony made the first day of school the longest day of my life.
I told my parents what happened to my brand new pencil after I got home, and I could tell they were a little annoyed. It wasn't my fault, I thought to myself. I was embarrassed, and anger brewed in my chest to a consuming heap of incinerating ember.
I learned to put things in my bag before leaving the classroom, something my parents taught me to do after the stolen pencil. We all realized that stealing was more rampant in this new place, and we had to adjust our behaviors somewhat. Something they didn't teach me, and I started doing, all in an angry revenge, was to take their stuff when they were not watching. I didn't take big things, as it would be noticed by my parents, and I knew I would be in trouble if I got caught. So it had to be small and easy to hide--just like what they did to me.
My chance came when someone left a coin on his desk. I put it in my pocket when no one was watching. It was a worthless coin, as the country's inflation rate was several hundred percent a year, but I didn't know or care. It was revenge for losing my cherished possession to theft.
On the way home I would run a few yards ahead of my grandpa, drop the coin on the ground, then run back to him. When we came upon it I would say, "Look grandpa--a coin!" and pick it up. Thus I could keep the coin since no one was there to claim it. My grandpa was amazed at my frequent good fortune, as I found coins on the ground quite a few times.
Looking back, it was fortunate that I didn't continue this game for long. It was very easy to traverse down the irreversible path all the way to the dark side. I think eventually the teachings from the school and my parents brought me back from the detour without knowing what I was secretly doing. It could also be that all those coins couldn't come close to my lost pencil, and I eventually lost interest. Or was it the suspicious look from my mother that made me stop? I couldn't say for sure.
But there is always a chance that they failed to instill good in me. What if no matter how much they scrubbed and wiped and washed, and still couldn't make me clean and pure like a lotus growing in a mud pond? Would I be sitting in a jail somewhere, or lurking at some dark corner waiting for my next prey if that was the case? I hate to contemplate any further.