A Shower of Kindness
’Tis the everyday things that really count, And the everyday people we know; And everyday kindnesses go very far, Toward making a heaven below.
For every less than perfect moment, there is a pleasant memory to balance it off. I would like to share one such incident with you. Thinking of it always makes my heart full — and still brings tears to my eyes.
My Mom and I struggled through life for the most part. But as she always said, it is okay to face tough times when we are young — as long as things even out as we grow older. When we’re young, we are stronger. When we grow older, somehow, we become more sensitive and things hurt more. But I digress. Let me share a story with you.
The year was 1987.
My Mom and I moved to a different city. Our income was meager, but we were brimming with attitude and positive that we would manage to make our lives better. We set goals, we made lists.
One of the items on my list was a cupboard. We only had a couple of rental chests of drawers, so I designed a cupboard and dreamed of making it. Some day.
Or so I thought.
A friend, who was a building contractor came to my rescue.
Building my cupboard — my pride and joy
We got a carpenter. Got the materials for the basic frame. Chose all the hardware carefully. The cupboard was six feet tall and six feet wide. When it was finished, it looked beautiful. It had a glass shelf to show off my collections.
Then We Moved Again
In 1992, we moved again to another city. We had an apartment on the first floor and somehow managed to hoist the cupboard up. A few months later, we decided to move closer to mom’s place of work. The moving guys couldn’t figure out how to get it out of the house. We could not tie it and lower it down as they feared it would be damaged. I panicked. What to do? Obviously, I couldn’t leave it behind.
We moved the rest of our stuff. I had hired an autorickshaw for the day to commute to our new home and back. On one of our trips, an autorickshaw driver asked me why I looked worried. I told him the problem. (Yes, I talk to everyone like we are old friends).
And guess what? He said he was an amateur carpenter and would have a look at the cupboard and figure out what to do.
Of course, I was skeptical — but what did I have to lose? So, I showed him the cupboard. He said it could be dismantled, carried over to the new place and assembled again. Unlike Humpty Dumpty.
It seemed like the only option. A tiny voice inside me wondered — what if he damaged it while dismantling it and then, worse still, disappeared, leaving me with a stack of boards that no one might be able to fix?
But then, I also thought, what if I put my faith in the guy?
Anything could happen. The carpenter-autorickshaw driver left in the evening, promising to be back the next morning.
Sure enough, I had a sleepless night.
Keeping the Faith
Well, the carpenter showed up the next morning with his toolkit. I asked him how much he would charge. He said Rs.100.00 (Today, that’s less than two US dollars.). Back then, it should have cost me at least Rs.500.00. I was suspicious of such a low quote… but as I said, something about him made me trust him.
A trust well placed, as it turned out
He studied the structure and then methodically removed all the external fittings and stored them in a plastic bag. Then, he asked for a piece of chalk and a sheet of paper and a pen. He drew a sketch of the cupboard on the paper and matched the numbers as he numbered the panels in the cupboard with notes. I was impressed — it was the perfect way to do it! He proceeded to gently remove the nails off and then stacked the numbered panels neatly. In three hours, he was done.
Not Done Yet!
My next stressful moment was when he took my new address and promised to come over at 10 am three days later. He did not take any money, saying he was fine with being paid after he put it together again.
Would he show up?
Remember I am talking about the early 90s. So no cellphones. We didn’t even have a landline at home. When we needed to call we used the public booth down the road. Since the driver did not have a contact number there was no way to get in touch with him.
Anyway — I waited out the three days taking care of other things. Yes, I was still nursing a wee bit of apprehension in a corner of my doubting mind.
Would the guy turn up as promised the next day? As if to add to my misery, I came down with the ‘flu.
And the Sun Shone Again!
The guy showed up at exactly 10 am the next morning. As promised.
He got to work. Just as systematically as he pulled the cupboard apart, he put it together again.
As I watched him work, I fell asleep on the divan with another bout of fever.
The guy finished his work and sat patiently outside our door until I woke up, sweating. He took one look at me and said he would be back shortly and left.
He returned with a packet of food and coffee and a strip of paracetamol tablets.
I didn’t need those as my Mom had made lunch — but oh, I was so touched and grateful.
I asked him to share the food with me and after much fussing, he agreed.
Then he insisted on doing the dishes.
As he prepared to leave, I paid him Rs.200.
He laughed and returned Rs.100 back, saying we agreed on 100.
And said something I’ll never forget for as long as I live:
If one human cannot care for another, help one another, what is the use of living?
And telling me to take care, left.
I just sat there, Rs.100 in my hand, eyes filled with tears and a heart that felt full and happy to be alive.
Yes, there’s joy in this world. There are kind people in this world.
And that, folks, is one of my fondest memories — a shower of kindness.
More stories of kindness:
Kindness in Action
How true that kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see!
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