A fistful of happiness can really make a difference, be it a hungry old man or a baby sparrow lost in the storm. Lend a helping hand when life offers you this blessing.
I had taken a different route today, for my morning walk, as the buildings that were being constructed all around us, had made the roads not only shabby, but one had to tread warily because of the lurking dangers, like wood shavings, iron nails and clods of cement which could prove lethal for an unsuspecting morning walker.
I went in the opposite direction, and after a little while approached, what was the humblest of the most humble dwellings. A very old man with a shambling gait was carrying firewood on his head towards a well-holed thatch. Outside the thatch stood a familiar figure with a packet in her hands.
“Arrey Kanchan? How come you are here?”
Kanchan looked at me, a trifle discomfited, but soon recovered her composure to tell me, “He is an uncle from the village. His sons have thrown him out, so we managed to get him this hut here, it belongs to a person we know. He has no one in this world, his sons are ingrates, so I get him some food items from home, but he insists he will cook his own food. He has some land in the village, but his sons have usurped it. He is not poor, but his sons …..What will the poor man do? Aunty, wait for me, I will just take a minute.” Saying this she went into the hut, deposited the things there and was back.
“Tau, khana kha lena. Hum shaam ko ayaengey,” (Uncle, do have the food, we will come in the evening) she said to the man, who raised a gnarled hand in blessing and smiled the kindest smile I have ever seen on a person’s face.
Today Kanchan was fuming, wringing her hands, talking even more than she usually does, and her gestures were also more pronounced.
“You know, aunty, onions are seventy rupees a kg. I have managed to construct a kitchen – with tiles and all, but what will we eat? What will we cook? Onions are indeed making us cry, aunty.”
As we walked on, a fistful of something fell right before us. “Oh it is a sparrow baby,” she chirped, scooping it in her hands and whispering soothing words to it.
With the chick in her hands, she hopped towards our flat, kept it on the staircase, asking me to keep an eye on it and raced inside to get water for it.
No sooner had she kept it there, the mother sparrow suddenly appeared and raised a twittering storm.
The fledgling, which had probably fallen from its nest, suddenly seemed to be resurrected at the sight of its mother, and with a new spring in its tiny frame, hopped up to it. Both flew away.
When Kanchan came back with a glass of water, her face fell, on not finding the chick there. I noticed unshed tears sparkling in her eyes.
“It went away with its mother,” I said.
“Maa to maa hoti hai” (Mothers are mothers), she said, wiping her eyes.
These tears were not of pain, but of pleasure. The pain of existential angst juxtaposed against the pleasure of living. A fistful of happiness can really make a difference, I thought, heading inside, Kanchan in tow.
Kanchan has this knack of always starting a churning in my mind, and she did. There are people in this world who may not have enough on their own plates but would still have a few morsels to spare for the ones who don’t have anything. Kanchan, and many like her, keep our faith in humanity, firm and unshaken.
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