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Kindness Begets Joy

I am an Indian. My name, age, gender, religion, caste, economic status, educational background, profession, place of residence, etc. are not important. I am proud to be an Indian, but I’m aware there are many aspects of life in India that need improvement or correction. If these aspects of life are changed for the better, life in India will improve, not only for me, but also for my fellow-citizens, particularly those who are less privileged than I.  This is how my guest today, Proactive Indian, introduces himself/herself. I’m so happy to be hosting Proactive Indian here today. Over the last few months that I’ve been reading the blog, I’ve been inspired by the pertinent questions raised, the personal stories shared on the blog and the sincerity of this blogger.

Thank you for your post today, Proactive Indian – Kindness Begets Joy –  another one that challenges us to be better human beings!

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My flight landed at 11.00 am on Saturday. I was visiting the city during the Dussehra weekend to attend a function to celebrate the 75th birthday of my favourite professor. My classmates, Jaya and Suresh, had invited me to stay with them during my visit.

Jaya and Suresh live in an apartment in the centre of the city. On weekends and holidays, they move to their sprawling beach house on the outskirts of the city.

Suresh was waiting at the exit. We started the long drive to the beach house. Though we were meeting after 4 years, we had been in regular touch over phone, email, etc., so there was no ‘catching up’ to do. Suresh described the plans for the evening function as he drove.

When we reached the beach house an hour and a half later, we were met at the door by Jaya, 5-year-old Hema and 3-year-old Ravi. With a shy smile, Hema greeted me, “Good morning, uncle!” Ravi concentrated on the toy in his hand.

“Good mo…orni..ing, Mi..iss!” I replied. Hema burst into peals of laughter, and Ravi looked up and smiled. The ice had been broken!

As planned, we started with lunch, which was a leisurely affair. Ram, the 24/7 cook-cum-caretaker had prepared my favourite dishes, obviously on instructions from Jaya and Suresh. I was quite amused that Jaya, who had always been a ‘bindaas’ (devil-may-care) person was now so particular that Hema and Ravi ate well, not too little, not too much. Suresh’s parents, who were there on a short visit, and I were delighted to meet each other after many years.

Lunch was followed by a short stroll on the beach. At 3.00 pm, Jaya, Suresh and I left for our professor’s 75th birthday function. (More about this birthday function in another post.) When we returned at around 11.30 pm, everybody else had retired for the night.

During breakfast the next morning, Jaya asked Suresh’s mother when she would like to perform the Saraswati Puja. Suresh’s mother replied that she would perform the puja at 10.30 am, and Jaya’s and Suresh’s laptops and a couple of Hema’s school books would be needed. Jaya immediately requested Geeta (Ram’s wife) to have Hema and Ravi bathed and dressed by 10.00 am, and told Hema to bring 2 of her school books to the puja room for Saraswati Puja. “English reading book and English writing book,” she specified, adding with a smile, “You want to improve your English speaking and writing, don’t you?”

I could not attend the Saraswati Puja since I had to report for my return flight before noon. After breakfast, we took a few photographs. I bade farewell to all the members of the household individually, then Suresh and I left for the airport.

By now, all readers must be wondering why I’ve written this aimless post about an uneventful visit. Followers of Corinne’s blog must be wondering why she has hosted such a bland Guest Post. Well, here’s the twist in the tale: Hema and Ravi are not Jaya’s and Suresh’s children. (Their sons are both studying in residential colleges in other cities.) Hema and Ravi are the children of their domestic help, Geeta and Ram!

Just over 3 years back, Ram, then in his late twenties, had been employed as a 24/7 cook-cum-caretaker. He was provided furnished living quarters, consisting of 2 rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom, located in one corner of the beach house. A few months later, he was joined by his wife and kids. Apart from his salary, medical treatment, whenever needed by Ram or his family, is provided at private clinics at his employers’ expense. Hema studies at the local English medium school, all expenses paid by the employers.

On the way back from the previous evening’s function, Jaya and Suresh explained to me that, when they were looking for a 24/7 cook-cum-caretaker, they were looking for an able-bodied, capable, well-groomed, well-behaved and trustworthy person. They employed Ram because he appeared to fulfill all these criteria and had excellent references from his ex-employers. While employing him, they had insisted that, in addition to doing an excellent job, he should ensure that he and his family maintained good personal hygiene, grooming and behaviour. They would be taken care of very generously. The arrangement had worked very well for both.

Hema and Ravi mingling easily with the family and guests had happened one day by accident, not by design. Initially, Ram and Geeta were apprehensive about this, but Jaya and Suresh overcame this by inviting the kids to eat with them. Jaya’s and Suresh’s is an inter-state marriage, but both belong to families that could be termed semi-orthodox. Both Jaya’s parents and Suresh’s parents were a bit uneasy about this to start with, but were soon totally at ease about it. When I asked them how their guests reacted, they said that most guests took little or no time to get used to it, started interacting with Hema and Ravi themselves and were totally comfortable with their own kids interacting with Hema and Ravi. Of course, some guests were uneasy about it, though they didn’t say so openly.

I was most impressed by the fact that Hema’s books were included in the family’s Saraswati Puja ceremony. To me, this was nothing short of revolutionary, particularly since this had been initiated by Suresh’s 75 years old mother!

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I sincerely hope that more and more people not only follow the example of Jaya and Suresh, but do much more.

I sent the draft of this post to Jaya and Suresh for approval. They approved it with the following comment:
“What you saw in our house is certainly unusual, but it’s no big deal. We treat Hema and Ravi just like we would treat our friends’ children. And it’s not just these two kids who gain, we also benefit. Having them around the house adds to our joy! For example, our Diwali celebration would have been a very sober affair. But, since these kids were around, we bought some fireworks and celebrated along with them. We enjoyed Diwali much more because of them!”

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Visit Proactive Indian’s blog for more such heartwarming and inspiring posts.

 

32 Comments

  1. Sheethal Sheethal November 11, 2013

    The joy of sharing is the smiles we get from those kids. A heartwarming and very positive post. 🙂

  2. Amit Amit November 10, 2013

    This is a very heart-warming post. I wish more and more people understand the meaning of being kind. It does not cost anything.

  3. Proactive Indian Proactive Indian November 10, 2013

    Thank you, FiF.
    Any huge responsibility should be accepted only after one is reasonably confident that one can do justice to the task.

  4. Found In Folsom Found In Folsom November 8, 2013

    How Sweet!!! There should be more people in the society like your friends. God bless their souls!! It was an interesting narrative, not at all boring 🙂 I always wanted to foster a kid, but took my step back as it is a huge step. At least would like to do part time fostering. I hope that time comes soon.

  5. Richa Singh Richa Singh November 8, 2013

    I read this and I felt a strange sense of happiness in my heart. As I am typing this post I feel a certain amount of gooseflesh. Yes it is true that for most of the people accepting such a situation is tough but I do believe that cases like these, when shared and spread can help bring about a huge change..

    • Proactive Indian Proactive Indian November 10, 2013

      Thank you, Richa.
      We cannot expect huge change to happen in a very short time. Thinking about issues is the first step. We must try to translate our thoughts into action, and we must spread the message.

  6. Kathy Combs Kathy Combs November 7, 2013

    A little of you get back what you give. If you are kind to people, they will be kind in return. Lovely post and full of inspiration. ♥

    • Proactive Indian Proactive Indian November 10, 2013

      Thank you, Kathy.
      Yes, kindness is generally reciprocated, but that’s not why we should be kind. Treating others well should be a way of life.

  7. Pixie Pixie November 7, 2013

    Thank you for sharing this Pro.
    Made me smile. It gives hope that all is not lost and that people are still finding joy in simple acts of kindness. 🙂

    • Proactive Indian Proactive Indian November 7, 2013

      Thank you, Pixie.
      We all must try to follow Jaya’s and Suresh’s footsteps, and inspire others to do so!

  8. Kalpana Solsi Kalpana Solsi November 7, 2013

    Hema’s books being included for Saraswati pooja shows the bigheartedness of the family and the elders of the family approving it reflects their progressive thinking.

    • Proactive Indian Proactive Indian November 7, 2013

      Kalpana, thank you for your comment.
      Let us all try to follow the example of this lovely family.

  9. Aditi Aditi November 7, 2013

    Thanks for sharing this lovely story…I sincerely wish that many follow in Jaya and Suresh’s footsteps…this story brings hope!! discrimination in varying amounts is still present in our society and this needs to be changed with a concerted effort from all.
    Just this morning I was having a discussion about the state of maids/house servants…following two very opposite news items…on one hand there was the MP wife’s case…on the other hand there was an article about a domestic help in Delhi..Baby Haldar, who encouraged by her employer has successfully published an autobiographical novel ‘A life less ordinary’ …unable to paste the link of the article here…

    • Proactive Indian Proactive Indian November 7, 2013

      Thank you, Aditi.
      Yes, all of us should make a sincere effort to follow Jaya’s and Suresh’s footsteps!

  10. Shilpa Garg Shilpa Garg November 7, 2013

    What Jaya and Suresh are doing is indeed so heartwarming and beautiful! More power to them and may their tribe increase!

    • Proactive Indian Proactive Indian November 7, 2013

      Thank you, Shilpa.
      All of us should make a sincere effort to join Jaya’s and Suresh’s tribe!

  11. usha menon usha menon November 7, 2013

    This is a very moving post. If every one is so affectionate and loving towards the kids of their servants, they will be truly blessed. Very few people are so affectionate and caring. I know there are people, who do not even allow the servant’s kids to enter the house.

    • Proactive Indian Proactive Indian November 7, 2013

      Thank you for your comment, Ushaji.
      Unfortunately, discrimination is present in our society in a very big way. We feel bad when we are discriminated against, but we don’t think once, forget twice, before we ourselves discriminate against others.
      People who try to change this sad state of affairs should be our role models.

  12. Rekha Rekha November 7, 2013

    That was such a nice account. Indeed what you give comes back. And if its kindness, the results are manifold. It is so nice of the family to include the children in their everyday affair when most people have a tradition of having separate utensils for domestic helps and their kith and kin. Indeed an Everyday Gyaan. 🙂

    • Proactive Indian Proactive Indian November 7, 2013

      Rekha, thank you for your comment.
      As I said in the post, I was most impressed by the fact that Hema’s books were included in the family’s Saraswati Puja ceremony. To me, this was nothing short of revolutionary, particularly since this had been initiated by Suresh’s 75 years old mother!

  13. Rainbow Hues Rainbow Hues November 7, 2013

    Very heartwarming and a positive post. Gives us a food for thought. Its a great thing Jaya and Suresh are doing. Nothing better than being human!

    • Proactive Indian Proactive Indian November 7, 2013

      Thank you, Kajal.
      I’ll repeat what I said in the post: I sincerely hope that more and more people not only follow the example of Jaya and Suresh, but do much more.

  14. Jairam Mohan Jairam Mohan November 7, 2013

    Pro knows that I am a huge fan of all his posts and just like every other post of his, this one also was quite thought provoking and heartwarming at the same time. This story should serve as a reminder to all of us about how openness and warmth will surely serve the dual purpose of doing some good to the world while finding genuine happiness when doing so 🙂

    Awesome guest post 🙂

  15. Privy Trifles Privy Trifles November 6, 2013

    I have been born and brought up in a very conservative South Indian Brahmin family and I am the odd one out there solely for the questions I have been asking since childhood. I need a logic and a reasoning for all the behaviours or else it is simply not acceptable. Over a period of time I have managed to bring in some change, I hope it increases with the coming years **fingers crossed**

    • Proactive Indian Proactive Indian November 7, 2013

      Yes, PT, we must keep our fingers crossed, and be prepared to raise our voice when necessary!
      A minor who asks questions is labelled impertinent. An adult who asks questions is termed unreasonable, stubborn, etc..
      But we must continue to be ‘unreasonable’. As George Bernard Shaw said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

  16. Vidya Sury Vidya Sury November 6, 2013

    Such a heart-warming story! Thank you for sharing with us, Pro. I grew up in a wonderful family where everyone was kind, regardless of caste/creed – I mention this because we were considered an orthodox family. During my childhood, I recall our family allowed a group of people to live in the spare room on the ground floor – something that would have been considered dangerous to do today. Nobody left/leaves our house without a meal. And of course, I believe that when we give, we get.

    This is a subject very close to my heart. Thanks again.

    Corinne…..hugs.!

    • Proactive Indian Proactive Indian November 6, 2013

      Thank you, Vidya.
      When it comes to kindness, you’ve clearly practised a lot!
      Yes, you get when you give, but that’s not why you give!!

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