Compassion - The Kindness of a stranger
by Mukta Hegde
We tell our children day in and day out – do not speak to strangers, do not trust them, you never know what they will do to you... filling innocent minds with visions of dread and terror. How many of us tell them to keep the faith – that just as there are bad people in the world there are
also good people?
This happened to me many years ago in Mumbai. As usual, I was in a hurry. Laden with books and some files, I alighted from a cab to go to a newspaper office in Tardeo.
It was only when I returned home that I noted that an envelope containing photographs of my little daughter was missing. I had meant to send it to a friend in the US and even had the address written on it. All it needed was to be sealed, stamped and posted.
My frantic search yielded no result. The initial berating of the self gave way to deep sadness. Where could the envelope have gone? Did it slip from the file on to the floor of the cab? Could it have gone unnoticed into the seat crevices? Or fallen into the open gutter running alongside the footpath where I alighted? And worst of them all, the horrible thought of my daughter’s pictures being trampled upon ruthlessly by millions of feet that walked the footpath without noticing it?
Days went by but the sadness remained. New Year’s Day dawned fresh and bright filling my heart with hope and cheer. The first day of the year always infuses me with optimism and faith. I have great belief in the goodness of human nature and that today will be better than yesterday.
The postman rang the bell in the afternoon and handed me the mail. Rummaging through it, I spotted a brown stained envelope addressed to me in an unfamiliar handwriting. Intrigued, I opened it and lo and behold, my daughter’s smiling pictures stared back at me. Was I dreaming? No, they were all there, the six pictures along with a letter.
"Madam, I came across this envelope on the footpath in Tardeo. I opened it and saw the photos. I saw the USA address and didn’t know how many stamps it would take, whether I should stick it or not. Then I saw your address on the reverse, I thought I should send it to you. You must have been feeling sad that the child’s pictures were lost."
You can imagine the gamut of emotions that washed over me. I promptly replied to the stranger thanking him for his kindness and sent a prayer for him and his family. It was the best New Year gift I have ever received and one that I will never forget. God bless the stranger who reinforced my belief in the goodness of human nature.
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