I woke up this morning And looked outside the window To the same view Constant for months now 10 months to be exact – A quiet yellow house jaded by rain and sun With a rusted red door And a black car I think, a Wagonar That disappears at 9 and reappears at 7, Sharp. Dutifully parked across the asphalt abraded road. But I know the house has residents As they sun dry their clothes In their verandah On an aluminum stand Near a banana tree That refuses to grow any taller.
But they say A year has gone by. A year, is it?
True it must be As it was this cold, A long time back When we wore 2 pairs of socks And sweaters and pants.
Also, some people have Made their presence scarce. But alas, sooner the better.
Yes, a year must have gone by For I don’t remember much from That life. The one before the virus.
Yes, the virus That succeeded in breaking My body but Not my spirit As I came back Even stronger than before; Ready to take on Whatever comes next And so did many others For there is no other way to go on Than to go on fearlessly.
Outside, the winter air Hangs heavy with silence Of those who mourned the past 10 months From the loss of lives and livelihood. Their heads Scarred yet unbowed.
But apart from that Everything is pretty much Constant yet they say, A year has gone by. I don’t believe them.
They say that love makes the world go round but I would strongly beg to differ. In my humble opinion, it is kindness and the small acts of it which keeps this otherwise man-eat-man world going as it may not be possible to love every second person coming your way. Let alone the first.
What compelled me to write this article is a heart warming incident that occurred just a few days back:
As it happens during every monsoon, all the potholes in New Delhi turned into tiny ponds, creating an illusion of uniformity on otherwise broken roads, only that this uniformity is brought about by rain water and not the more often used mortar in the civil industry. Suffice to say, it’s impossible to distinguish a rut from a road and one usually figures out their way trailing a car in front of them.
As brave as I am, I decided that nothing must stand between me and my daily humdrum activities and so I turned on the ignition of my old-as-time Honda City and set out to fetch groceries. Yes, groceries. Everything was rainbows and unicorns, with the former actually gracing the storm struck sky until I reached the supermarket and decided to park my car in an isolated spot. That should have been the first warning sign! One never just finds an isolated parking spot in the capital of second most populated country of the world. As the reader might have guessed already, it was actually a rut full of water and I drove straight into it. I realized I am in hot and muddy waters for real and a humdrum activity had turned into an adventure. A while later, a few people who seemed to be enjoying their perfect afternoon tea at a cigratte stall noticed my struggle and decided to help me, God bless their soul. I may have heard some remarks in reference to being a ‘lady driver’, but nothing that I hadn’t heard of earlier. That day, those gentlemen got their hands and clothes dirty in order to help me out.
In retrospect, I think even my car protested a little that day to not go for a ride, but it’s old and I anyway ignore most of it’s warnings unless it drops dead in middle of the highway. And then we call the crane services and show some love in terms of oiling and greasing and replacing this and replacing that until it feels pampered enough and finally decides to play along just like a puffed up boyfriend who needs some ego massage every now and then. Moving on.
I can also count numerous such encounters where I have been helped by cab drivers, by-standers, strangers and so many other kind people who spent as many as 40-minutes from their life trying to explain me a direction, or fixing my car for free, being my local translator or in general getting me out of trouble. I cannot even begin to imagine how the situation might have turned out be, had it not been for these kind hearted people. In numerous tough times, the people that ‘love’ me such as my family and friends were not around to help me .
As Yuval Noah Harari, stated in his bestseller book called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, ‘…Homo Sapiens is primarily a social animal. Social Cooperation is our key for survival and reproduction. It is not enough for individual men and women to know the whereabouts of lions and bisons.’ By lions and bisons here, he indicates our surroundings. We have needed each-other’s help since the start and even our ancestors went out in groups to hunt for they knew that alone, we cannot by-any-means hunt a giant animal. Mr. Harari further goes on to explain how a human singularly is of almost null significance but together goes on to create civilisations, governments and nations. And yet we tend to forget how much we need each other at the end of the day. We forget to be kind. We forget to smile at others and sometimes, we even go on to think we can make it on our own.
In a different part of the country; called Kerala, the wrath of monsoons has been anything but deadly and hundreds of people lost their life to nature’s fury, which as much as the state would not like to take responsibility for, could have been avoided. Yes, I agree it occurred after a hundred years but wouldn’t really be much of a disaster if it occurred bi-weekly.
But even in these arduous times, the country came together and the Chief Minister Distress relief fund has received a donation of Rs 210 cr so far and it goes without saying that all of this money has come from generous and altruistic people including children and students who are not necessarily rich.
As I scroll through social media day after day, below is a picture that especially caught my attention. The young man in this picture is National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescue officer Kanhaiya Kumar who dared to save a child amidst a submerging bridge.
The reason I think the picture above went so viral is because not only it represents but inspires all the emotions at once: bravery, kindness, hope and even love. It sends out a loud and clear message: even though everything is down to ashes or more appropriately, drowned in water, only humanity will suffice to save humanity.
An act of kindness is not just a harbinger of hope but is also a mark of bravery which is best tested in times of adversity. And in adverse times, the kinder you are to those who brought you pain, the liberated you would feel. It is a kind of power that overcomes all cynicism. And just because it is so powerful and liberating, it comes with lots and lots of practice. In different words, kindness is a close kin of bravery which is often confused with the popular opinion of it just being a mere act of taking or giving life for honor. I, for one cannot imagine an unkind brave-heart. The arrogant ones confuse this power with weakness until they have a weak moment themselves post which they lean on the kindest shoulder they can find around. Quite a game changer, isn’t it now?
So — did you do your bit of kindness today? Did you donate for our friends in Kerala who lost not just their homes but also families? Did you release your insecurities and personal issues towards someone such as a subordinate or a loved one who had no choice but to bear the brunt out of position or love?
Well, whatever you did or did not. It’s never too late to take corrective measures. Especially in the 20th century.