Her back was bent with age and damp with sweat. She had probably been walking for a while trying to sell the yellow seventhi flowers she was carrying in her basket. The basket was full, and she was approaching many to buy those.
At 7.00 in the evening, when people were busy munching away snacks from the street stalls; she was the inconvenient intruder. Most either turned their backs or pretended to ignore her. (Many, maybe, didn’t want to buy the flowers too).
I had spotted her on my way into the supermarket, along with my daughter. I stopped and instead of heading further, started digging into my wallet. Typically, there’s never any cash in my wallet apart from a 100 or a 200. I hesitated for a moment and then took out the hundred (Finding that hundred took me time as I had to rummage through receipts, bills, and coins stuffed inside my tiny wallet) When I finally looked up, the flower lady had crossed the road to go over to the other side. I ran behind her to hand over the money.
She took the money; smiled at me and started giving me flowers. I politely declined saying I didn’t want them. But on her repeated insistence, I took some. When I was just about to turn, I realized I was next to a tea shop. Thought why not buy her a cup of tea and biscuits. My daughter made her sit there and I went to buy her tea. When she sipped her tea, I knew at that moment, she was bone tired and famished with hunger. The hot cup of tea gave her relief and much required comfort.
I can’t articulate in words what I felt seeing her sit there and savour it. Just then I asked her if she would care for a meal; not receiving a response I nudged my daughter to go to the nearby restaurant to pack a meal for her to take. It took a good 10 mins for my daughter to get the food packet and that gave me ample time to ask the lady about her life. By the time we bid her goodbye, she was smiling happily.
My daughter turned to me and said, “That was so lovely and made me feel good, amma.” I told her, “Aaru, that’s all there is to life, these simple moments when we can go beyond our convenience and do something for others. Particularly, when it for something or someone outside of self, the joy is tremendous.”
Suddenly, we both looked in the direction of the supermarket which was closing now; and our shopping trip was done.
On my way back home, I reminisced about what I will give my young children as a mother. I don’t have a large bank balance that I will leave behind, and neither do they see me writing cheques or donating to charity regularly. But there are these moments like today, innumerable of them, helping someone cross the road/feeding a poor child/helping someone carry groceries/giving someone a ride/feeding street dogs/letting the elderly bypass us at queues/giving generous complements/being kind with words even when others aren’t.
Hopefully, these hands-on experiences will teach them a thing or two; like when to stop by and help others, and when to wipe away a tear. Possibly, these are my gifts, these small moments which happen aplenty on our everyday trip to shops and while running errands. I realized that writing cheques to charity is good (all of us should do if and when we can). But even better is helping people then and there, when it’s required. Most importantly to empathize. It not only makes us more human but brings out the best in us.
Aren’t these, the small moments that lifts us a wee bit? From our everyday rush; at wanting to Live our Lives!
Let me close with this poem –
We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.
We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.
We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—
Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.
Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again.