I have a house help, she is Muslim. I have known her only for a few months. Right now as we all know Muslims are observing Ramadan. The other day while chatting with her, she happened to mention how one of the families had presented her something for Ramzan. She didn’t mention it because she wanted something from me, she was just talking. But then a sudden realization hit me. Perhaps it was my stupidity I hadn’t paid attention to it.

Normally I give the helps something during Diwali. It’s just understood. How ever I think most times for all of us we skip out on the relevance of the timing of a gift, in respect to the receivers sentiment. I mean sure, gifts brightens anyone’s day, but surely when it is presented at the right time it has more relevance. For this help giving her something on Diwali would just be something customary as opposed to me gifting her something during Ramzan. 

I remember a large lot of my students who I taught were European. So naturally, during Christmas they always turned up with a little present. Now mind you, it always made me happy, but I remember this one time when a student turned up with a little Diwali present for me. And it made me feel a little more warm. 

Even when it comes to birthday presents or presents for other occasions, I know society functions on the value of the gift more than the gift itself. (And this is not to say a expensive watch or a phone shouldn’t be gifted). I remember a friend who I barely knew then, arrived once with a small pack of mint chocolates after she arrived from America. She gave it to me rather sheepishly. There are far more expensive and fancier chocolates one can buy when they come from America. But she carried with her a pack of 4 dollar mint chocolates.  Let me tell you why, because even though she knew me very little in some conversation she had picked up that I have a softness for mint chocolates.  I can tell you something that friendship faded long ago but the taste of those chocolates still remain.

All I am saying is it’s important to watch out for peoples emotions and small sentimental patterns. Those are the clues for the right gift at the right time. 

I wish everyone and anyone who is observing this month of Ramzan, with all good wishes.

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nandita basu

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