“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

– Aesop

In the midst of a lot of negative news that we are bombarded with everyday, there would be at least a small piece that makes us smile. And more often than not, that small piece would have something to do with a kind deed or kind word by someone. I saw a piece like that just yesterday, although it was quite an old piece of news. It was about how a man who wanted to dance was body shamed for being obese, by a bunch of insensitive people. They posted a couple of pictures of the man, the first where he was trying to dance and the second where he stood with his head bowed in shame as these guys were laughing at him. The second picture broke my heart. The caption to the pictures was “Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing.” I am sure some of you would have seen this. Well, what started as a daunting experience to the ‘Dancing Man’ turned out to be one of the best experiences of his life when a group of ladies launched a campaign to find him and fly him to LA for a dance party with more than 1,000 people including celebrities. The pictures of him dancing his heart out with the others at the party are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.

The ladies who did this for him did not necessarily have to do it; but the fact that they wanted to do it showed how marvellous they are. And I’m sure it was not the flight ticket to LA or the huge dance party that made the Dancing Man’s day, it was the fact that they wanted to do something for him and make him happy. It got me thinking of a couple of times I have felt a deep gratitude for an act of kindness by someone. They don’t involve flight tickets or dance parties; they are rather simple, but they are acts that have touched me a lot.

The first incident happened when I was finishing my second year of graduation. I was doing an Organization Study at a factory in Kottayam. Every morning I would walk to the main road from my home and catch the bus from there to Kottayam.

One morning, before I got out of home, I decided to take a new bag with me and transferred my things from my other bag hurriedly. As always, I waited at the bus stop and got into the next bus that came along. Once I had taken a seat, I looked inside my bag to get my purse out so as to buy the ticket. And then I realized with a shock that I had forgotten my purse. I had absolutely no money with me and the conductor was already walking towards me. I didn’t know what to do and started sweating, worrying about how the conductor would scold me for getting into the bus without any money. I got up from my seat and asked the conductor if I could get out. Before he could ask me why, I heard a lady from the next seat, “What happened?” I turned around to see a lady I had sometimes seen at my place, although I didn’t really know her. I knew she was the mother of a guy who was hardly an acquaintance. I told her, “Forgot my purse, aunty. I need to get down and go back home to get it.” She told me, “Don’t worry about it. I will pay for your ticket.” I was about to decline politely when she foresaw what I was about to say and told me, “I am going to pay, that’s final.” I didn’t know what to say.

After giving me the ticket she asked me if I needed some money, just in case. I told her I had an uncle staying near the place I was going and would get my return ticket fare from him. She seemed a little unsure, but was convinced when I reassured her I would be fine. I haven’t come across her after that day as it seemed she moved to another city. But I think of her once in a while.

The second incident happened when I was working at a software company in Cochin. I had my own gang of hooligans there, all guys of course as has always been my case. The guys were really fond of me and we used to have a lot of fun together. But I don’t think that at that time they ever thought me as a person who could feel shy, as I was always looked at as a tomboy. I used to be in a jean and a t-shirt most of the days and was never really into anything fashionable as such. One day I decided that I wanted to start wearing knee-length skirts and I got a couple of them. The day after that, I wore one of the skirts coupled with a regular top to work. It was the first time anyone had seen me in a short skirt and quite typical of guys, my friends started making fun of me. We were sitting at a corner table in the canteen and I wanted to get a cup of coffee. But the guys were laughing at me and making all sorts of jokes about the skirt that after a while I started getting really conscious and awkward in the new avatar. It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable wearing it; but the non-stop teasing had left me quite diffident. I guess it showed on my face too, when they kept daring me to get up and walk to the coffee machine. I just sat there looking meek.

It was then that Anoop Christudas, a guy we used to call Kristu, who was sitting with us, got up, walked without a word to the coffee machine and came back to place a cup of coffee in front of me. I looked at him, not knowing what to say. He smiled and said, “I can’t stand it when people are made to feel awkward and I know that’s how you feel right now. Drink your coffee.” I don’t think the others even noticed this in the middle of all the laughing. But the amount of gratitude I felt for this guy who made me feel better was immense. We had just been acquaintances till that day. From that day he became a friend, because with one small act of kindness he had shown me how big a heart he has. When I left that company months later, he came to me with a farewell gift – a coffee mug with an upside down sculpture of a girl on it. That was how he saw me – a hyperactive, crazy girl. But out of all my friends there, he was the only one who could see that this hyperactive, crazy girl could sometimes be an ordinary, shy girl too.

Probably these two incidents won’t mean much to anyone else. But to me, these were two incidents which showed me that sometimes the greatest acts of kindness come from people who are practically strangers to you. Their kind deeds have definitely made me a better person too. I now know that to make someone feel happy, I don’t need to do something big. Something as small as 10 rupees or a cup of coffee can be a great deal to people who really need it.