From my early years in life, the scale has always tilted completely towards kindness over truthfulness. It is as if the truth is ready to sacrifice itself for the sake of kindness.

Here is an incident that I recall from my young days. I must have been around 6 or 7 years old. This was an era wherein we young girls were invited as kanjaks to neighbouring households during the navratris. The excitement of eating halwa puri and channa from other homes was tempting and I would bathe, dress up and get instructions from my mother to which homes I was to go. We were three sisters, so I guess she divided the invites between us.

One such navratri, I happened to be invited by an elderly gentleman who stayed with his family on the uppermost floor on the neighbouring building. Dreaming of the halwa, puri and channa and the small change of 10 paisa that would fetch me a small coconut burfi and a sugar boiled sweet from the nearby kaka shop, I ended up at his place after climbing 3 steep flights of stairs.

He was waiting for me in his humble but neatly laid out abode. I was seated on a mat with a thali and a glass of water laid out before me. After the initial rituals of tilak and mauli, the elderly gentleman brought the prasad. Alas! It wasn’t the puri, halwa and channa I had assumed I’d get. Instead, he served me plain rice with milk and sugar. Here I was, with a mound of rice and sweetened milk that I wasn’t sure I would be able to eat, forget finish.

I realised that his eyes were on me and all I knew was I should not disappoint him. So concealing all my emotions, I smiled and consumed the entire serving as if I relished ever bit of it. I even told him how much I enjoyed the meal. My lack of experience did not prepare me for what followed. He urged me to have more and having been thrown off guard, I gently wormed my way out of my predicament and fled with the 10 paisa.

This incident has stayed with me. I’ve noticed several incidents when I’ve chosen kindness over truthfulness. Even today, I feel glad that I took that stand as the happiness in his eyes was all that I cared for.

Disclaimer: Please do not take any of this as advise. These are musings from my life that I am happy to share. Advise to be taken only from the Master – our one and only Swamiji 🙏

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Monica Om

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