On this platform, I see the most compassionate, kind and non-judgmental people and I guess everyone has a beautiful story about how they developed these traits, what or who helped them. 

The one trait that I have had for many years is to be kind to others (specially with people I don’t know). The other day I was wondering how I developed kindness for strangers in the last few years. Who taught me to be kind, who told me it is good to help others or who did I see doing something that impacted me deeply?

I come from a family of people from defence and I have seen my parents being very kind and generous (even if it meant cutting down on many of our own necessities).

I thought deeply if they are the ones who silently taught me to be kind to strangers. No.

Because they were mainly doing all those things only for people known or related to them. Though they did donate here and there for many things, I realise now that it was more out of fear of God and for religious purposes.

Then after many sleepless nights and scratching my head, I figured how I became what I did. One incident pops up in my memory. I realise this was it.

I was 7 years old. We had recently shifted from Punjab to Delhi (perks of being born to a defence personnel) and I was keen to eat bread and milk before I went to school that day. My mom said, ‘No’ (like any other normal mom, I too sometimes starts with a ‘no’ with my daughter).

I was adamant. I told them that that if I didn’t get it, I won’t go to school. Mom gave up finally (tantrums do work with parents, not with partners :)).

So I went to the shop to buy bread as there was no bread at home. I asked for 4 pieces of bread. Yes, there was a time when we could buy bread by per piece, but trust me I do not belong to Harappa civilisation 🙂

Then I thought for a while and asked for 2 more pieces for my elder brother as I was sure he too would like to eat milk and bread. But the problem came when the shopkeeper asked me for money, it was more than what I was carrying. Now I was in a dilemma.

I told him that I will pay him the balance when I go to school after finishing my breakfast as the shop was on my way. But that man was hellbent on getting it then, but he was smiling too while arguing over the balance(after a few days, I got to know he was pulling my leg because he found me cute).

Anyway, I was confused. If I returned the bread, I’d have to share my bread with my bhaiya; and if I didn’t pay, he wouldn’t let me go. A boy, from the northeast, around 19 years, was standing and watching this whole drama. He stepped forward and told me, “Gudiya, you go home, I will pay.”

As a daughter of a proud IAF officer, my ego got hurt, “No, No I will pay.”

He smiled and said, “Okay, pay.” And watched me with love and warmth. 

I didn’t know what to do. I told him that if he was paying, he should wait for 10 minutes so that I could return his money on my way to school. 

He simply put his hand on my head and said, “Go, you must be getting late for school.”

I came back hurriedly, finished my breakfast (first things first, I was called glutton for a reason :)) and took the balance money and ran to the shop. But I got to know that the boy had left after paying the balance on my behalf. I looked for that man for many days, on my way to school. But I couldn’t find him.

Now when I look back, he was the one who made me realise that one can help people even if you do not know them. 

And ever since, I do not let go of any opportunity where I can help someone in need, especially strangers as I have realised it gives me immense joy and I do not have any expectations. With the people I know, expectations come naturally and sometimes kindness backfires too. I am struggling to overcome that but I am still a human and need a lot of improvement. I am a work in progress.

As Swami ji says, “Ask yourself what you learnt, why you learnt, who taught you, is it helping you grow?” I am slowly and steadily realising that I need so many introspections to find the source of my learnings. But the best part is that I am still learning and trying to be more kind and compassionate. 

What you feel, you attract— this is so true. When I felt I needed a change, I got in touch with lovely people here. And everyday I am learning a new perspective on many issues.

I am grateful to Swami ji for his grace and all the people here for their unconditional love and support they have so far shown me.

So, what is your story? Where did you all learn to be so loving?

Image from Pixabay

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Shalini Pandey

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