Saturday, July 05, 2014

On this sweet life ...

Many, many decades ago, back in school, there was an attempt, feeble as it was, to start Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.  I have no idea what the girls did, but we boys didn't do much though, once, we even went on a day trip--on our bicycles, as I recall.

I was never interested in camping and tieing tying different kinds of knots anyway.  But, there was one aspect that impressed me--a Scout maintained a daily list of socially constructive actions, which could include even acts like helping an old person cross the street.

Yesterday, I was a Boy Scout, who helped an old woman on the street.

I was barely out of the compound on the way to buy a jar of honey to go with the jackfruit that awaited me when a woman, who was perhaps in her late 70s and attired in the old traditions of the old country, stopped me.  "Do you know where number 7 is?" she asked me in Tamil.  Obviously, I had no idea.

But, I did not have the heart to merely tell her that I didn't know.  There was a look of desperation in her.  It is an awful feeling of being lost--literally and metaphorically.  When somebody points out the way or helps along, life becomes a lot more pleasant.

"I am not from here.  But, I will try to figure this out" I assured her.

It was amazing how much more relaxed she became in her facial expression.

"I have come to see "S" and his wife, who recently had an operation ..." she started.  I bet she would have told me her life story if I had allowed her to.

"They have two numbers here--an old number and a new number.  Is "7" an old one or new?" I asked her, fully anticipating that she would not know.  Of course, she did not know.

"Can you call "S"" she asked.

"Oh, I don't have a cell phone."

"I have a phone.  But, I don't know how to call."

"Do you have the number?"

"It is in the phone."

I cannot understand why corporations cannot manufacture and sell simple cell phones that older folks can use.  To make a simple phone call.  But, the cell phones and their gizmos end up terrorizing the older folks.

She handed me the phone.  Her genuine trust in me humbled me.  I live in a world where we are always suspicious of people and their motives.

I located a number for "S" and dialed it.  I gave her the phone.

"It is ringing" she updated me.  Soon she started talking with "S" and asked him where "7" was.

I walked with her to the street adress "7."  "Romba thanks" she said.  She was now an assured, calm, smiling face, unlike how she looked when she stopped me.

This boy scout earned his jackfruit with honey.  It tasted all the more delicious.


Anne in Salem said...

There are certain people in this world who do not understand other people's inclination to help. I suppose it is because the non-helpers have never felt the pleasure that comes from helping. I wonder if that compassion is teachable, or if one must be born with it. I cheer when my children help another and give a matter of fact "he needed help" as their reason for doing so. Wonderful parenting moments when I feel I have done something right.

Ramesh said...

A three finger salute to an Honourable Scout.

By the way, at least in the old country, can you say tying instead of tieing ?

Sriram Khé said...

Hehehe ... if only I had en editor to help me! I have edited the post, with a strikethrough the incorrect usage ... what was I thinking, right?

Yes, there is a pleasure in helping. Which the utilitarian economists then interpret as we help others because the gains (our pleasure) outweigh the costs. I usually am not excited with bringing the costs/benefits calculation into the discussion on why help. I like your "he needed help" explanation. So simple, right?
Is compassion teachable? Can one be born without that sense? hmmm ...

Shachi said...

Grateful for "givers" like you - may your tribe only increase! And hope my children also grow up to be givers rather than takers!

Sriram Khé said...

With the parents they have, your kids will be awesome givers ...

BTW, your expression on "may your tribe increase" reminds me of my father's favorite poem--at least one of his favorites--that I brought into a blog post, which was also about givers. There, I was a taker. I suppose giving is, in a way, fully knowing that we too will be takers at some point?

Shachi said...

What a wonderful poem - loved it! Thank you for sharing!

As long as we give more than we take, it's all good!