It was a sunny day. Sun was shining bright up in the sky. The scene from my hotel balcony was beautiful. I, with 9 other NGO delegates from different states of India have gathered in the pink city, Jaipur for a conference. Our main topic of discussion was how to improve our quality of work so that more and more children can be helped. How can we motivate them for further education, vocational training etc. The conference started with a brief introduction about the work done by various NGO’s. Then the anchor summoned all delegates one after the other to speak on different topics. Some spoke on motivation whereas some spoke on mobilizing volunteers. All their speeches were enriched with varied ideas of enhancement.
The meeting got over by late afternoon. We all decided to do some random act of kindness as we all were here for a good reason. All of us got down from our hotel and started brainstorming our minds. Some suggested meeting children living in slums where as some suggested going to municipal schools. There I saw a small child selling bright red roses. The child was of about 10-12 years old and was trying very hard to selling his flowers. I went up to him and offered him water. He was trying to persuade me to buy his flowers. Suddenly an idea struck me.
I called everybody and said, “Why don’t we collect smiles today?” All of them were baffled that how will we collect smile?” I solving all their queries presented them my idea. I told, “We all have distributed water among poor, buttermilk amongst policemen now it was time to do something different. We all will buy 50-100 roses from this little child and distribute it among the strangers.”
All of them agreed to implement this idea. One the lady questioned, “what will we say when we give them the roses?” A young girl who seemed in her early twenties came up with a wonderful line. There was an old couple coming from the left. They looked very lovely as they slowly move ahead with their hand in hand. That girl, Kiara took one of the rose and when up to them. She offered them with a rose and said, “We are giving you this rose, you have a beautiful smile and We are here to collect smiles.” The old couple beamed, their eyes started twinkling and their face glowed with happiness. Seeing this, all the nervousness which was there in everybody’s mind vanished and all of us got working.
Each of us took 5 roses and got dispersed in all the directions. Some gave it to a watchman, some to a group of small children. I saw an empty auto rickshaw passing on the road. I waved my hand to stop it. The driver stopped and asked me, “Where you want to go?” I smiled and gave him a rose. I said, “We love your work, thus by giving this rose we want to collect your priceless smile.” The driver got stunned. He has never encountered anybody who has offered him a rose. He again asked, “Are you sure you don’t wish to go anywhere?” I joyously told him, “Yes, I am sure. Go and give this rose to your wife. She will be very happy.” The auto driver smiled, said a word of thanks and then, left.
There was a pan parlour near the side of the road. A lady was sitting there. She looked of around 65 years in age. Her face was wrinkled; she had salt and pepper hair neatly tied in a small bun. She was dressed properly. She spoke in a very authoritative tone. She called one of the girls and inquired about the activity we were performing. The girl told her we were collecting smiles and offered her a rose. To our surprise, the lady denied to take the rose. The girl insisted her saying that you have asked so you have to take this rose. The lady was firm. She then asked her to go and call all the members who were distributing these roses.
Within ten minutes all gathered near her parlour. She said, “I am very happy that you all are doing this good deed. I would like to give all of you a pouch of water.” This pouch of water served as a lasting relief to our body, which has drained all its energy in this harsh heat. I inquired the lady that what her reason to enter this male dominating business was. We usually find men running a pan parlour and never a woman. She said, “I have no one in the family. My husband had died 6 months ago. I had only one daughter, who has also died before few years of a chronic illness. After my husband’s death, I had two options in front of me. Either I could sell this shop and get money out of it or continue running this shop and earn my livelihood. I considered the option of further continuing the business as my husband had started this shop with great aspirations.”
She further continued saying, “I have earned more money in this 6 months than my husband had earned in last 1 year. Every day, I give 5 pouches of water to the needy free of cost. When I saw you all spreading happiness, I thought of giving it to you all also.”
My only response to her was, “The main reason for your success is your kindness. People get attracted to kind hearts. It was your perseverance and kind heart that has given you success. In the hustle and bustle of life, we often forget the importance of helping others. We get so engrossed in our life that we become less and less concerned about the people around us.”
Through her story, I could think one adage which suited her perfectly, ‘sweet are the fruits of adversities’ Because of a sudden death of her husband she was compelled to take the responsibility of the shop which not only earned her a living but also brought her happiness because of her kind acts. The life of this old lady taught us that whenever a crisis strikes, it has two meanings, a problem and an opportunity. It depends on us how we take it. Another message I learned through this story is kindness does not need any language, caste or money. It just requires a small thought of helping others and a little effort to do that. The story of this lady inspired me to work more and more and help as many people as I can.