Few small everyday incidents have a way of staying in your memory. Later in life, when you are lost in the darkness of dilemma, they pop up like LED lights to show you the way.
One such incident happened long ago. When I was a kid, the most common way to commute in a small town in India was either cycle-rickshaws or bicycles. Cars were rare, and there was a long waitlist for Bajaj scooters. My Dad also had a bicycle that he used when running errands. We had employed a young gardener who used to come a couple of days in the week to tend to our garden. One day my Dad’s bicycle disappeared. The same week our gardener disappeared too. We inquired and looked around the neighborhood, but the bicycle was nowhere to be found.
A few months later, one afternoon, I was standing on the porch overlooking the main road and chatting with my father. Suddenly I saw our previous gardener cycling past us, sitting on my Dad’s bicycle! I yanked my father’s hand and shouted, “Look, Dad, that gardener stole your bicycle!” My father looked and slowly nodded his head. Seeing him not reacting, I continued incredulously asking him if he wasn’t going to call the police and report the incident. He remained lost in thought, and after a while, he gently said, ” You know, my place of work is within walking distance. He is a poor kid and comes from far away. He needs it way more than I do.” That was it! We never talked about it ever again. But in the deep recesses of the mind that incidence stuck like Superglue.
Now, in another corner of the world, when teachers and strangers share instances of how kind my kids had been to theirs, it reminds me how some part of my father and the bicycle still guide me.
Kindness is a choice, and we can choose to be kind.