Kindness Is Hard — No Wonder It Is Followed by Few
But the rewards are many if we are willing to wait.
“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.”
— Harold S. Kushner
Every morning I take an auto rickshaw (a three-wheeler black and yellow local transport) to work. To get one who is willing to take me to my desired destination is a challenge.
After I face multiple rejections from rickshaw drivers, finally I manage to get one. So, you can imagine my day starts with rejections. Not a pretty emotion to go through that early in the morning. But I guess that’s one way Mumbai makes you stronger.
As I settle down in the rickshaw and watch the traffic pass by, I notice how everyone is thinking of something. Frustrated faces, tensed faces, gloomy faces, smiling faces, this city offers it all. Thus, you can imagine how tough it is to remain kind when you have that much going on in the back of your head.
As I finish one day at work striking off my tasks to my best ability, I take the metro home. There the landscape to observe people is much wider as people are seated or standing on the train waiting for the next station. There my observation skills are at its peak.
People replying with frustration to phone calls, women sharing their issues with other women, men talking about finance and politics, teenagers making decisions about their career and then there is me, wondering if the thought of showing kindness even passes by their thoughts once a day.
Kindness — a Sacrifice?
Life is hard no matter where you live. It’s a roller coaster of challenges and achievements. Through it all we harden ourselves because of the way people have behaved with us through our journey. Some of us choose to remain kind no matter what while some choose to destroy that plant of kindness as the pain is too much to even try and heal.
Kindness is not easy. Although it is ironic that the act itself is positive, yet it is hard to remain kind. You see to be kind, it requires you to let go of the past hurt and offer your time and effort to make someone smile. This could come at the cost of your own mental peace sometimes. But looking at the smile and relief on the person’s face, this sacrifice seems worth it.
For instance, when I reach home, tired and sweaty after walking quite a distance, my father has a list of tasks that he wants me to complete before I settle and breathe. It does rile me up, but I remain patient and get everything done as I know he waited patiently for eight hours to get it done and it kept eating him till the task was done. His happy face once the task is done gives me so much joy that I forget how tired and beaten I am after a hectic day.
When I make plans over the weekend to disconnect and be with myself, my mother approaches me with a list of activities she wishes to do with me. I tell myself my peace can wait and I go along with her because she deserves a break too after taking care of my father as he goes through dialysis thrice a week. She is his caregiver and we all know the effort and patience caregivers imbibe. No matter how much we appreciate their efforts, it is less.
Kindness then requires sacrifice. A sacrifice that messes with your head and your plans that you have been so looking forward to. It requires letting go and making other’s happiness a priority.
The Unexpected Rewards
But here is the thing, as with everything, kindness does have its rewards only when we are patient enough to receive them and I am witness to these rewards:
- When I am literally talking to myself out loud and saying ‘God, please get me one rickshaw, I turn back and the driver says, ‘Madam, I have been calling out to you, but you weren’t listening’.
- When I look for a seat at the metro and wonder, ‘No chance today, just stand’, that’s when a kind soul offers me their seat.
- When I am at the grocery store and that sweet looks tempting but I refrain and when I pay the bill, the cashier says, ‘Madam, we made a new sweet, we want you to taste it. Don’t buy it now but just try, you can take it the next time’. (And yes, I eventually end up buying it anyway).
That’s when you know that all those moments that you gave up on bring in fruits of happiness when you least expect it.
So, maybe, there are only a few of us who follow the path of kindness and yes we get hurt many times along the way. But you and I know that when we least expect it, someone just gives us exactly what we need at the right time without uttering a word. And that to me is the reward of kindness.
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