#1000Speak, 1000 voices speak for compassion , is a noble initiative launched by a few bloggers where in they are bringing in 1000 or more bloggers, photographers, artists together to speak about compassion. I am a storyteller and that is the way I am going to talk about compassion, through a story.
It was Sunday afternoon and I had stepped out with the family for a quick lunch. The kids had been unwell all weekend and craved for some South Indian fare. Steaming idlis, piping hot sambar, a crisp paper dosa and the array of chutneys was definitely going to uplift our moods. It had also been raining all weekend, so a bit of coaxing was needed to step out of the PJ’s and put on the boots and coats. When we finally stepped out it was still wet, drizzling, cold and very windy outside.
As we got out of the car and walked towards the restaurant, I noticed a lady. She stood there in that light rain, with a toddler in a stroller next to her. A light blanket and the cover of the stroller gave a bit of protection to the child. But I could tell the child was wet and cold. The lady held a board that requested help. She needed money. Why ? There was nothing to tell that. The maternal instincts in me felt a surge of compassion for the little child. Mine stood beside me covered in their warm coats and boots and were soon to be treated to a warm meal. What about the child in the stroller?
We stepped inside the restaurant and asked for a table. The husband has known me enough to read my mind. He knew my dilemma. He slipped some money into my hand knowing well that I would end up going outside to meet the lady. We quickly spoke of what we should do. There was no way I could ignore everything and enjoy my meal. So I left everyone inside the restaurant and went out to the lady.
As I walked outside a stream of thoughts crossed my mind. I need to ask her why she needed the money, I need to talk to her, I told myself. Or should I go and just give her the money? Should I let her be and not do anything, after all she is young enough to work and earn some money? Why will a mother take her little baby out on a rainy cold day to beg for some money? There has to be a dire need for it. The questions and thoughts were just endless.
“Hi, It is raining. Why are you out here with the baby? ” I said looking at the child.
“I go in ten minutes.” She said apologetically.
“That is fine. But why do you need the money ?” I said pointing to the board.
“Yes, I go in ten minutes.”
Another woman came up to help with the same urge as perhaps mine. We tried to figure things out. But after a few more questions, we realized she did not speak English, only a few broken sentences here and there. She could not explain why she was there and my heart broke just looking at the little child during our conversation. I handed the money to the lady and asked her to at least stand in some shade. I left with a hope that she would make good use of the money and walked back to my children who were now dipping their idlis into the hot sambar and cool chutneys. The husband and I exchanged glances.
“I do not know if I did the right thing,” I said after explaining what happened outside.
“You did what you felt right at that moment. Let’s leave it at that.”
I made peace with it too or maybe not. At least I did not ignore my feelings. I can spend hours thinking about whether the lady genuinely needed money, should I have helped her in other ways, should I have controlled my emotions and been more pragmatic. But it is not every day that I feel such a strong impulse to go and hand out money to a stranger. I usually donate in a structured way to the charities and shelters. But that particular day I did. My heart ached for that little baby.
There are times when it is impossible to turn a blind eye to people’s pain, misfortune and suffering. That feeling to me is the first sense of compassion. Compassion can be misunderstood as pity. But compassion to me is when you feel for someone else’s suffering and when you try to put yourself in their shoes and understand their pain. That feeling then usually leads to an act of kindness.
As we left the restaurant, I noticed that the lady and the child were no longer around. And that is where this story ends, just like that.
So dear readers what do you do when you find yourselves in a similar situation. What would you have done if you were in my place? What would your heart say to you ? Is it always possible to be pragmatic and ignore the feelings of compassion towards someone ? We would love to hear an opinion.
Written By : Piya Mukherjee Kalra, the resident author of this blog who is also a compulsory people watcher, a storyteller at heart and a mother of two young children. She share her life experiences because she believes that a story will always touch hearts, inspire minds, bring people together and most every time stir nostalgia.