I first read this story a few years ago on WhatsApp. The Whatsapp university does sometimes have some amazing wisdom to offer. πŸ˜ƒ

A 7-year-old boy, along with his little sister, was going to a beach. On the way, there was a toy shop. A beautiful but expensive doll was visible through the window. The little girl couldn’t keep her eyes off the doll, she was totally mesmerized. Her brother noticed this but kept silent.

They went to the beach, played for a while and they met a neighbour there. The boy requested the aunty to take his sister back home and told her his mother has given him some work. He would finish that and come back. After they left, the boy stayed on the beach for some more time and started walking towards their house.

On the way, he went to the toy shop. There was the shop owner and his assistant. The boy looked at them, and pointed at the doll, and asked them the price. The assistant said, “This is a very costly doll, you should come with some elder in your house to buy it.” The boy was not from a financially well-off family. Though his father made sure to look after their basic needs, he knew he will never buy this doll for his little sister.

So he said, “You please tell me the price, I want to gift this to my sister.” When the boy kept insisting, the shop owner who was silent till now; asked him, “Son, how much money do you have?” The boy after hesitating a little slowly and carefully pulled out 11 shells from his pocket. He said, “I collected the best shells from the beach so that I can buy the doll from you.”

The assistant was about to open his mouth, but the shop owner signalled him to keep quiet. He took the shells, in his hand and counted them, and said, β€œSon, you have given me 4 extra shells, take these back.” The boy gave a big smile, then the shopkeeper packed the doll and gave it to the boy. He thanked the owner wholeheartedly, took the doll, and rushed towards his home.

The assistant was shocked and asked the owner, “Why did you do this?” The owner explained, “When the little boy grows up and remembers this incident, he will believe that goodness exists in this world, and he will then continue the chain of kindness. This was my small contribution to a better tomorrow. It is my belief that the world is full of nice people, if you can’t find one, be one”!

I have a real-life incident to share too, here it goes. Our family owns a restaurant. As a kid, I loved to sit at the cash counter. Once an uncle got two bills and cash. He asked me to add and tell him the amount and asked me to give back the change, he was in a hurry and also looked quite strict. I got nervous on seeing him and ended up saying some incorrect amount. He immediately commented, “Your maths is very poor.”In my school life, I was quite afraid of maths, but as a sensitive kid, the way he said it, hurt me.

Then my uncle came and took charge of the cash counter. Later I told him about the conversation we had. He said in a comforting way, “That is ok Rashmi, we learn from experiences. Initially, we feel panicky, but as we practise, we get better.” He also taught me a technique, one which I will not forget. Suppose the bill is INR 174 and the customer hands over INR 500 note. He suggests first to give the change of Rs 6, which makes it Rs 180; then give 20, that makes it 200, and then Rs 300. I gave a simple example, but even for bigger bills, this method works. After his little encouragement, made me feel good. Later, whenever I would sit at the cash counter, I could manage well.

A few years ago, on my father’s birthday, I went to a recently inaugurated ice cream and daily needs shop. After the purchase, while I had already mentally calculated the total, the guy was calculating on his calculator, I waited patiently, our total amount tallied. I handed over the money, he struggled with handing over the change. He returned more money than he should have, I smiled and gave it back. He thanked me but I could sense he felt ashamed. Lowering his gaze he added, that he was not good in studies, and was a dull student. I told him, how petrified I was of maths, I also spoke few sentences in Marathi (the little bit, that I know) πŸ˜€to make him comfortable.

Now he relaxed a bit and then I taught him the technique my uncle had taught me. He again repeated that he is not at all sharp. I encouraged him that with practice and experience he will definitely do well. I again patiently explained to him. Just then two other customers came in, I pretended to check few more items, but I stayed back just to see, how he deals with them. He handled them with a bit more confidence and it made me happy.

Sure I could not have changed his mental conditioning, years of others and his own belief that he is not good enough, I did try to make a little difference in his world. When I was leaving, he said, “Thank you, madam, you are a very kind person.” I smiled and thanked him. In my head, I thought I was kind to you today because many years ago my uncle encouraged the hurt child and healed her instantly with his soothing words.

The message is simple, like Mother Teresa said, “We cannot do all great things, but we can do small things with great love.” It is about choosing kindness in your life every day. If someone believes in the goodness of humans, because of your existence, you are doing a great service. Yes, there is a lot of darkness around, cruelty, selfishness, manipulation, etc. But why contribute more to the darkness? Instead, choose to be a light, choose love, every little goodness you choose to do, starts a chain of kindness. In your own small, sweet ways, make a difference.

Because I love quotes, let me end this with one: “Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world, all things break and all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go, love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in the darkness, for the light that is you,” β€” LR Knost. 

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Rashmi Ramanathan

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