It was the evening of my 20th birthday. A day well spent amid surprises and laughs, I surely was thrilled to core, another reason why I gladly agreed when my Mother called me up to join her at a temple once I was done with college. Not that I am an atheist, but temples get to see me just occasionally. After contently thanking God for the day and mumbling my usual prayer, and making all sorts of offerings on her instructions, I left with mom. Thanks to the unusually less crowd, I felt good even after a tiring day. Unknown to me, there still was something to add to that feeling. As I waited for mom, holding a big carton on my scooty, containing my gift of the day, a giant Teddy, I watched a young boy of around 10 approaching her. As he held out his hand and started speaking something to her, it became obvious he was a tramp. I quickly reached up to her, asking to rather buy him something to eat than give money. Seemed like that wasn’t even needed. She was already in the process. It’s a mother’s heart, after all. In fact, she added a bit more to her gesture, and asked if he would like a plate of chaat or an ice-cream. Going by my usual experience, I assumed he’ll refuse both and ask for the money. But as I saw the child nod for an ice-cream and eat it with pure glee, something pricked me inside and I could feel my eyes welling up. And that moment I knew I had actually lived my birthday. Neither the cake I had savoured, nor that big teddy, but instead this sight was the perfect end to the day.
It’s almost daily we come across such kids, wandering in the streets, may be nestling some hopes within them. Hope for a day spent without hunger. Quite often I have seen that as soon as you refuse them the monetary help, they walk away mumbling curses, and don’t agree when you offer them something to eat. The change in their tone in a flash of seconds is enough to reveal they are part of some gang that has been ordered to come back with money and nothing else. Having witnessed that a few times, quite many of us find it better to ignore them. I do that too. But there is always this tinge of sadness whenever I spot any of them. And often it’s the sight of a wrecked kid or someone old that hits one badly. What’s more disturbing is that feeling of helplessness. In many such moments we make promises to ourselves noting what all we’ll be doing for them once we start earning. You never know. Coming years may clutch you so roughly in all the intricacies of your own life that all these promises to make someone’s life may end up in the list of your unrealised dreams. The most we can do then and there for them is drop a coin or provide them some food. About the former, we can’t be sure where will it go. Realising that, spending a few bucks to calm down their hunger seems a good option. If they refuse, you can’t help. You surely did your part. And what does it cost? Ah, just giving up a bite of that Donut you were going to have with your friends.
The smile that their content look gives you is priceless. Contribute to that, whenever you can. Sure, this won’t solve all the big poverty problems. But while aiming for big, we shouldn’t ignore the little things that may mean big happiness to someone, should we?
Spread a smile or two, whenever and wherever you can.