By Megha Bajaj
Sometimes, Taking Care of the World Outside can Massage the Ego far more than being there for One’s own Close Ones
“Megha, I heard you are thinking of volunteering at an old age home… is it true?” asked my 84-year-old grandmother, peering at me from behind the spectacles that magnified her eyes so much. Her frail body was draped in a simple sari as she limped to sit beside me.
I was working on a story on my laptop and not really interested in having this conversation. Keeping my eyes on the screen I said, “Yes, Dadi.”
She put her wrinkled hand on my knee. With controlled irritation, I asked her, “Tell me, Dadi, what do you want?”
“Beta, I want you to take me with you to the old age home,” said Dadi.
I suppressed a giggle as I continued to type while asking her, “Why, do you also want to volunteer?”
“No, I want you to spend some time with me. Here you are busy but there, you will surely be with me for sometime. Whenever you go, please take me too,” said she in a soft voice.
I turned around to look at her and felt like someone had punched me. She looked so fragile, so beautiful. I could see that though her face was smiling, there was sadness in her being. My heart wrenched in pain. I sat right there, took her hands in mine and asked her to tell me all those Krishna stories that she did when I was little. Time seemed to slip off her slender shoulders as she stroked my hair and took me, once again, into the world of the blue god. Everything dissolved – all that remained was cows, shepherds, forests and flutes. That afternoon when she went to sleep, I just sat beside her and watched her. I was feeling so proud of my decision to go to an old age home and envelope the people there with my love and wipe their loneliness away, whereas, here my own grandmother was craving for a single undivided hour from me. It was a deeply humbling experience.
I realised that there had been so many instances in my life when I had done something good out of the ego of doing something good. I felt I was doing something for society by investing my time with those who needed it – and yet, had somehow missed looking into the eyes of those in my own home. Of course, I wanted to reach out to people. Certainly, I wanted to make a difference. And I knew I would. However, first, I needed to be there for those closest to me – else everything I did in the world outside would be meaningless.
The memory of an uncle stirred. He was known to be deeply helpful and caring, and yet his own children walked around with pinched faces that craved love.
Sometimes, perhaps, taking care of the world outside can massage the ego far more than being there for one’s own close ones.
Buying a gift for the neighbour’s child is bound to be greatly appreciated whereas being there for one’s own child may always be taken for granted. Yet, it is from my own home that I need to begin to make a difference. After all, of what use are all the rivers of the world to me if my own little piece of land is parched.
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