A drop of compassion

[Shared by Jyotsna Parmar]

I just received the following letter from a very dear friend Rajshree, who has been very actively involved in various voluntary activities for different non -profits. Few months back, we had shared about small acts of kindness and it’s ripples it has on our environment but more on our own lives. As she was going, I shared with her about Akshay Patra, a savings box made out of recycled plastic bottle to be used later to do small acts of kindness. Here’s her heart warming story about her Akshay Patra which she lovingly calls ‘Dharam Peti’ (Collection box for supporting the path of righteousness) :

The dharam peti u gave me in november, I gave it to my son with the idea of sensitizing him towards service. Told him to fill it up with money as and when he could, and when it would be full, he should decide as to how would he serve with the money collected in it. I waited and waited for months. Till jan, there was hardly any money in it. I would keep reminding my son about ‘dharam peti’ and since he was earning, he should be putting things regularly. Come end of feb and rooshabh(my son)’s dharam peti was still virtually empty.

I thought about it and felt am I pushing him? Am I doing anything wrong? Am I being impatient? While reflecting on these questions, I realized my entire approach was all wrong, I was at fault. I decided to change my ways immediately. One evening while we all were at the dinner table, my husband(rasesh), rooshy, myself and tai(helper at home), I made an announcement. I got dharam peti out and said..this is our family dharam peti. Anyone who wants to add any amount of money anytime can add to it. Once it is full, we all will decide what service should be done with the money inside. Iam going to add in it first and i removed rp 1 coin and put it in the peti. there was no turning back after that. Next day at the dinner table I enquired loudly…….i hope we all remember the dharam peti. Tai immediately told me……bhabie I added rs 2 last evening and she shared the story of dharam peti with the cook and suman(part time helper) who started adding to it too.
Slowly and steadily the dharam peti got full. In the month of may, It was really full. I asked everyone at the dinner table again as to what should we do with the peti money? It was unanimously decided that lets do something for the poor leper beggar who sits under our building. The question was, what should we do for him? We decided to ask him as to what would he like to have. I went down and asked him about it. What a shock I got. The man whom I have been seeing since past 5 yrs, the man whom we use to give extra food or clothes since years, did not understand or speak a word of hindi. It completely surprised me. He was a tamilian and could only speak tamil. I thought out of the box, called up prabu(myTFI fellow) there and there, who told me to speak to aditya(my TFI fellow) who was a tamilian . I called up aditya and explained briefly as to what was happening. Next 45 mins were innovative, constructive and tiring. It was a 3 way conversation on the cell phone. I would talk to aditya, then aditya would speak to the poor man, they would have a conversation, then I would come on the line and aditya would explain what was happening. Everyone on the street of peddar road was staring at us. A few of them crowded around us, couple of them asked me what was happening? I didn’t know how to react? To get angry, ignore, answer their questions ? I just decided to focus on the work at hand. Thru this 3 way talk over the phone, I came to know that this poor physically deformed man wanted a lungi, a shirt and an umbrella.
1st week of june, I was in the car returning from my trip. It was pouring outside and my thoughts were on the poor man…..how was he handling the rains? He did not even have an umbrella. Did he have a pair of spare dry clothes. These thoughts were bothering me. Due to my travel I had not been able to utilise the dharam peti money by giving the poor man what he wanted. That night before sleeping I promised myself the first thing I will do the next morning is use the peti money for the reason it was created. Next day I went first to prarthna samaj, bought him a brand new umbrella, went to nallis and got him a lungi and rasesh had a new unused shirt. I got all the things together and went to the poor man. When I went to him with everything, I couldn’t understand his language, nor did he understand what I was saying…..but the teary smile on his face said it all. Nothing could match the pleasure I got out of that moment. I had tears in my eyes myself. While going up, I messaged rasesh and rooshy saying mission accomplished. When I went up and put the dharam peti back , tai came with rs 10 and said…… this time iam going to put in first…..i was so proud of her. Then I realised……I still did not know the name of that poor man. Did it really matter?

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2 Comments

  1. Shradha Narayanan says:

    My own bottle is lying unfilled. This story inspires me to get to action soon ! And I will… :)

  2. sheetal says:

    beautiful.. what an inspiration! time to get my own akshay patra…

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