Friday, 17 June 2011

A Few Good Men

"To be called a daughter...that's the biggest honour a girl ever
receives, even if it is from a stranger."

My father.A coach. Two or three uncles. A professor in one city. One more in another. A neighbour. The list is not endless, but it is impressive, at least in my eyes.

They understand me for who I am. Understand that while I am ‘officially’ nineteen, I am also thirty-five, and at time even five. Understand that I need a semblance of order in chaos. That I need periodic confirmation that my beloved ideas and ideals,do hold true.

It is from them that I learnt that respect is not demanded, it is commanded. That men can be gods, and even the gods are not infallible. That we do not stop dreaming even if the dreams do not come true. That honesty, integrity and honour may go out of fashion, but will never go out of favour among people who really understand the world.

I learnt that that there is greatness in the everyday work, beauty in the plainest face, wisdom in the strangest of places and a story behind every person. I learnt that everything happens for a reason, even though we may not understand it right away. That the world works in ways you and I know nothing of.
I learnt to have faith. In me, and in those around me.

I learnt to listen, because I got listened to.
I learnt to see people for what they are, not what they have.
I learnt to value opinions, because mine were valued.
I learnt to stop complaining, because I saw greater burdens cheerfully carried.
I learnt to believe in miracles, because I saw them refuse to acknowledge life any other way.

I learnt that success can have many forms. That a quiet “well-done” can mean more than all the marks in the world. That the good opinion of honest people is as satisfyingly earned as the shiniest of medals.  That laying up blessings instead of money is a rewarding investment.

I learnt that no matter what the world tries to convince otherwise, at the end of the day the only person answerable for me, is me.

It didn’t matter where they were from. It didn’t matter that they were busy, or it was simply not their job. It didn’t matter that I haven’t been able to give them anything in return, except perhaps reverence.
If kindness could kill, I would have been long dead by now, many times over. Each of them was inexplicably kind, each in his own style. Not because they had to, not because they needed to. But simply because they could. That’s one more thing that I learnt.

And most importantly, I learnt that no matter how full the world is of jackals and jackasses, there still will be a few good men. To know, revere and work under some of them, has been a delight and an honour. To be their “little girl” is a privilege. So to all those who prove that the race of father-figures is not dead, thank you, and wish you a very happy Fathers’ Day.

Dedicated to all those father figures who have made me who I am today, and who will always be there for me, no matter what road I walk on.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Don't We All

The woman parked in front of the mall, wiping off her car. She had just come from the car wash and was waiting for her friend to get out of work. Coming her way from across the parking lot was what society would consider a bum. From the looks of him, he had no car, no home, no clean clothes, and no money.

There are times when you feel generous but there are other times that you just don't want to be bothered. For him, it was one of those "I don't want to be bothered times." "I hope he doesn't ask me for any money," she thought. He didn't. He came and sat on the curb in front of the bus stop but he didn't look like he had enough money to even ride the bus. 

After a few minutes he spoke. "That's a very pretty car," he said. He was ragged but he had an air of dignity around him. His scraggly blond beard kept more than his face warm. She said, "thanks," and continued sitting quietly inside the car. He sat there quietly too. The expected plea for money never came. As the silence between them widened, something inside her said, "Ask him if he needs any help." She was sure that he would say "yes" but still she yielded to the inner voice. 

"Do you need any help?" she asked. 

He answered in three simple but profound words. She had expected nothing but an outstretched grimy hand, instead, he spoke the three words that shook her (and me, when I first read this story)

"Don't we all?" he said. 

We feel high and mighty, successful and important, above the bums in the street. Until someone reminds us those three words. Don't we all? We all need help. Maybe not for bus fare or a place to sleep, but we still do need help. She reached into her wallet and gave him not only enough for bus fare, but enough to get a warm meal and shelter for the day. 

We often look for wisdom in great men and women. We expect it from those of higher learning and accomplishments.But sometimes we stumble upon the most profound of thoughts from the most unexpected of sources.Five years after I heard this story from our school janitor, those three little words still ring true.
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