Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Childhood of Albert Einstein (part-2)

       "It's not my wish, sir," Albert pointed out,

"Then you are an ungrateful boy and ought to be ashamed of yourself. I suggested you ask your father to take you away."

Albert felt miserable when he left school that afternoon: not that it had been a bad day - most days were bad now, anyway - but because he had to go back to the hateful place the next morning. He only wished his father would take him away, but there was no point in even asking. He knew what the answer would be: he would have to stay until he had taken his diploma.

Going back to his lodgings did not cheer him up. His father had so little money to spare that Albert had been found a room in one of the poorest quarters of Munich. He did not mind the bad food and lack of comfort, or even the dirt and squalor, but he hated the atmosphere of slum violence. His landlady beat her children regularly, and every Saturday her husband came drunk and beat her.

"But at least you have a room of your own, which is more than I can say," said Yuri when he called round in the evening.

"At least you live among civilised human beings, even if they are all poor students," said Albert.

"They are not all civilised," Yuri replied. "Did you not hear that one of them was killed last week in a duel?"

"And what happens to the one who killed him?"

"Nothing, of course. He is even proud of it. His only worry is that the authorities have told him not to fight any more duels. He's upset about this because he hasn't a single scar on his face to wear for the rest of his life as a badge of honour."

"Ugh!" exclaimed Albert. "And these are the students."

"Well, you'll be a student one day," said Yuri.

"I doubt it," said Albert glumly. "I don't think I'll pass the exams for the school diploma."

He told his cousin Elsa the same next time she came to Munich. Normally she lived in Berlin, where her father had a business.

"I'm sure you could learn enough to pass the exams, Albert, if you tried," she said, "I know lots of boys who are much more stupid than you are, who get through. They say you don't have to know anything - you don't have to understand what you are taught, just be able to repeat it in the exam."

"That's the whole trouble," said Albert. "I'm no good at learning things by heart."

"You don't need to be good at it. Anyone can learn like a parrot. You just don't try. And yet I always see you with a book under your arm," added Elsa. "What is the one you're reading?"

To be continued  ......

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