The world has evolved into a global village. Borders have ceased to exist. Cherish and reciprocate human kindness, regardless of who you are and where you come from, writes our Guest Contributor Janani Suri. She is a bibliophile and a passionate speaker, who was selected to compete in Table Topics at Oviation 2017, an oratorical competition held in Sir Lanka.
In our fast-paced world, I must stop for every few seconds just to catch my breath. Everywhere I go, people seem to be going about their own lives. As I sit here, in my balcony, observing the ebb and flow of life, my mother quietly pipes up- “Janani, something is missing from the world these days, have you noticed?” I look at her quizzically, while she gloomily replies- “Kindness. Everyone’s forgotten what it’s like. Tell me, when was the last time you looked out for someone other than yourself?”
I pondered over her words, realizing their truth. In our world, taking time to hold out a hand to a person is considered a nuisance, not a duty. But in a world where we barely have time to keep up with our own lives, how would we be expected to find time to look out for others?
In May, I had travelled to Sri Lanka to compete in a public speaking competition. I arrived in Sri Lanka with a high fever. Since this was my first trip away from my parents, I was understandably quite nervous. I spent the first day in Sri Lanka sleeping off the fever, desperately hoping that my voice wouldn’t be affected. The next day was the day of my competition. I woke up with a cracked throat; my worst fears had been realized.
By the time I had arrived at the venue, my hopes had reached rock bottom. With tears in my eyes, I sank down on the floor, heart sunk. I knew at that moment that it didn’t matter what I did now. My voice would not be back. I knew at that moment that it didn’t matter what I did now. My voice would not be back. I could feel the weight of my parents’ disappointment.
“What will I do now? What will happen? Could I live with myself if I gave up, and let the runner-up take my place?”
As all those thoughts swirled around me, I heard someone entering. Then I felt a comforting hand on my shoulder. A voice asked me in broken English, “What happened?” I looked up into the concerned face of a woman in a cleaner’s uniform.
I don’t know if it was her obvious concern or just my terrible state of health, I found myself telling her everything. For the next whole hour, I poured my heart out to this patient listener who rubbed my shoulder and muttered something soothing in Sinhala. The next second I recognized that she was from Sri Lanka.
This woman who was not even from my country, who may not even have understood me, had listened to me at my most vulnerable for one hour. She had seen my tears and wiped it off with her rough and calloused hands. I didn’t know her name. She didn’t know mine. It didn’t even matter! For that one hour, she had shown me something that I had desperately needed. Kindness.
She left the room and I got up to leave for the competition, my heart light. I still don’t know this woman’s name. I’m not sure that she remembers me, but what I do know was that that I could never forget her or what she had done for me.
Regardless of who you are or who they are, the language of kindness breaks any barriers. If there is any little thing you can do for people, please do it! Remember, the hand that you held out could be the one to help someone off a cliff.