By Jasmine Bharathan
An experience of grace in action
Jasmine Bharathan works as a psychotherapist.
She practices ‘being out of her mind’ and
supports others who want to do the same
Her website: www.heal-empower.com
Recently, while we were returning home from a lovely weekend trip, my friend and I wanted to look at some plant holders and knick-knacks made of clay.
Near the Mumbai Naka at Nasik, the driver led us to a large make-shift shop on the roadside.
The attractive tulsi plant holders, trinklets and diyas at the entrance were interesting enough for us to step inside on that unusually hot afternoon.
The large cloth tent, the space perhaps twice the size of my little home in Mumbai, protected all the items in the shop from the wind and sun. Interesting utility and home-décor pieces made of clay were heaped all around and yet, placed neatly enough to enable us to get a good look at everything.
A thin, young boy, perhaps not more than 12-13 years of age, walked around us; unobtrusive and yet available; a gentle, soft presence.
A few feet away sat a lady with an infant asleep on her lap, a three-four-year-old standing near her, and another little one crying aloud for her attention from a t in- shed, which was perhaps their home. She sat there, disinterested and disengaged, lost and unavailable.
My friend and I moved around, excited to find little treasures to adorn our homes – and were surprised to learn that they were very, very affordable. Images of friends whom I could gift some of these, flashed through my head and I wished I had carried more money.
My friend inquired where all these wonderful things came from. With pride in his posture, joy in his eyes and excitement in his voice, he happily rattled off names of far-off cities and their journey to his shop.
And I wondered about the journey of his life…
While he was neatly packing each item in newspapers, my friend, who works for Child Protection Rights at UNICEF, muttered under her breath, “This is child labour.”
She inquired about his interest in getting a school education Waving a hand around he said, “I did study for a while… I am interested… But then…………..…….”
That wave of the hand said it all.His life. His family was under his care; it was his responsibility to feed them; to look after them. What would happen to the shop if he were to pursue formal education? Where would he find the money to cover the cost?
He quietly calculated the price of each item, doing the maths in his head. When he told me the figure, I reached into my purse and handed him the money.
We stood there, looking at each other a very long moment.
His eyes spoke. Surprise… appreciation… compassion…He didn’t take the money, quickly re-calculated and asked for a lesser amount. He let me know that he did not charge me for a couple of items – those were his gifts for me!
That afternoon, we were present to wisdom, maturity, an allowing space, deep listening, heart, quick action, appreciation, kindness, giving, compassion…..a magical, moment by moment experience.
I wondered if a school education would have provided, or even allowed him that kind of wisdom.
He was in my consciousness for the rest of the journey back home.
I wondered if it was possible to support his interest in getting a formal education.
His family would have to be counselled; someone would have to be found to look after the shop. What was his story so far?
How will his journey unfold?
What shape will his life take?
Who will help shape that story?
I reflected about my own life. A journey that can be summarised in a few words as self-supporting, responsibilities, care-giving, Grace… a long, difficult journey but a fantastic one, nonetheless. Fantastic, because life has unfolded far beyond my wildest dreams… flowing through unknown paths…
Several people played their parts in the journey. I received all the nurturing I needed during the times when I needed it the most, from various sources… it continues to be so…
Like tending a plant in its growth… like the shaping of a mud-pot…
Looking back, how did that happen?
And I wondered…
Is it that difficult? Supporting the shaping of one life… ONE life… Is it really that difficult?
PS: My heart was full to the brim. I had to express this experience. Somewhere… anywhere…
I sat at my computer, fingers flying on the keyboard and posted this article as a note on Facebook.
A very close friend in Toronto called the next day and said that she would like to financially support the boy’s education; someone else could take care of the counselling and rehab process wherever required…
Such a lucid journey of Grace at work.
The boy’s presence ~ the experience ~ my heart ~ the keyboard ~ the internet ~ facebook – my friend’s heart ~ her head ~ her husband’s bank account ~ the boy…….!
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