Saturday, September 22, 2007


A town in coastal AP, India. Mid 90s.
A young girl. Probably 18. very Attractive.
Lanky, long smooth hair and loose fitting clothes. Her oval face accented with a pouty mouth, what someone described as a painter's nose and shining eyes that are not very large. Her slim waist looking almost non-existent in that loose fitting dress.
She stopped at an ice cream booth with a group of people on a busy railway platform. Looked like a family, or probably friends. She looked like she lost a bet, or she was probably celebrating something over a cup of ice cream with those people around her.
She took those ice cream cups from the vendor, her slender hands with perfectly manicured fingers stood out, painted an unusual lavender shade. Almost purple, and handed them to people around her. Finally it was her turn to enjoy a cup of ice cream. She suddenly paused and took a long look at a lad, poorly dressed, behind a poor looking man, probably a traveller to the east in one of those passenger trains. She didn't seem lost in thought. She quickly grabbed another cup of ice cream, paid for it and bent over to hand it over to the lad that was watching her. The moment the little boy had the cup in his hand, he peeled off its lid and started enjoying the ice cream without giving her a second glance.
People around her said something to her. Some of them looked at her with admiration. She didn't seem to care, for she was lost in that moment, relishing that satisfied look on the little boy's face, whose dad could not have afforded that expensive treat for his son.

I was 5. May be 6. In first grade. I had a guy in our class who soon left the school. His uncle used to get him lunch during lunch breaks. His uncle, probably 25 ish at that time always treated me specially. He used to look around the class and come to me to say hi. A very kind person he was. The way he talked to me and looked at me made me feel shy, perhaps a little special. One day he carried with him a hand book that had "thumbs up" logo on the front. An all red book that fit in the palm of his hands. On one side were a series of pictures where the famous Kapil Dev was hitting a six on a ball. On the other side were pictures where he opens a thumbs up bottle, drinks it and lifts his thumb up in endorsement. The whole class went berserk at the sight of this book which mimicked these actions like these were played on a screen when the book was held snug in the palm and the pages were flipped at a speed. This man came to me and gave me the book, all for myself when a group of kids glanced at it longingly. That day I took that book home and showed it to my mom and had it as one of my prized possessions thought I didn't know much about cricket except that the man in the book endorsing thumb's up was Kapil Dev. It was sure a novelty item back then. This memory will never leave. I still remember the man. How he looked, the length of his hair touching the nape of his neck and his tall lanky body. For his kindness, I do not have an explanation. Probably just a liking for a five year old little girl.

Chiyo. The protagonist of Arthur Golden's novel "Memoirs of a Geisha".
One simple incident changes the course of her life. A gentleman stops to spend a few moments with a nine year old girl and buys her a couple of treats. The Girl, in Koyoto Japan, coming from a tipsy house by the sea, with a sealed fate to serve as a maid in her Okio because of an attempt she makes to embrace freedom.
The chairman gives her a coin and asks her to buy a treat. This little girl buys her treats and sacrifices the change that could have bought her rice and fish for a month in a prayer to be a geisha so that she could entertain the kind person that had stopped to spend a moment with her.
Chiyo becomes Sayuri in pursuit of her love.

Kindness, whether it is a teenager buying an ice cream for a little boy, a five year old girl moved by the affection of a perfect stranger or a protagonist form an oriental Cinderella like story choosing her path of life, is a very profound quality. I hope every one can be at the giving and receiving end of it to make this world a better place to live.