Joy is intrinsic. It doesn’t depend on circumstances. Yet there are times when tiny acts of love generate joyousness within.
One such account comes to mind.
As a child, I have had my parents and family always teach and encourage ‘giving’ and ‘sharing’ with the needy. We had a pouch of coins in a known spot of our house, which all the family members had access to in case a needy person came calling.
In my hometown, Cuttack, there are specific days of the week in which the poor and needy visit different specific areas of the city and go door to door for alms. The area around my house was visited on Tuesdays.
I used to wait for Tuesdays eagerly to run down the stairs from my second-floor quarters and give coins to these people when they came calling. They usually used to come between six to eight in the morning. Each one’s call was in a unique way. Some would sing songs, some would call out to the ‘kind and benevolent mothers of the houses’, some would shout out loud in a chorus to the ‘big men of big houses’ (bada ghara ra bada babu), some would call out to the ‘ladies of the houses of big men’ (babu ghara maa) while some would be silent beneficiaries in the group.
In my Tuesday trysts, I developed a heart connection with two of them in particular. One was a leper man on a wheel chair and the other was a man who used to push the first man’s wheel chair. The affection I developed towards these two men was reciprocal. There were days when on one shout from them, I would rush to the window signalling them to wait and that I was coming. And, they waited till I went down and gave them a measly few coins. We smiled at each other in this brief meeting of a few minutes. That gave the joy!!
I used to see my neighbours throwing coins from their first floor and second floor houses which these beggars gladly collected (because the poor have always been made to believe and accept that, such treatment is what they deserve). Somehow, I never had the heart to give that way. I always went down the stairs and whenever I was unable to, I had my father and sometimes my mother go down the stairs and give them the alms.
Because of this shared affection, there were days in which they kept calling looking up in the direction of my window till I or someone appeared from my family in acknowledgement. Seeing my affection for these two people in particular, my mother kept a packet of puffed rice for Tuesdays so that I could give it to them. There were days when they were late to come and I had to leave for school before they came. My mother would tell me in the evening that they had come and were given the needful.
They never asked for more. They were satisfied with the little that they got. There wasn’t any greed, nor did they ever try to take advantage in any way. To my tender mind, it was pure joy to meet them with a smile and put the coins and food in their bowls.
I was really sad when they didn’t come for a while, after which only one of them came. The leper man in the wheel chair had passed away. So, till my family stayed in that colony the lone beggar frequented my lane only to stop by my flat and then went away as soon as he received alms from me or someone from my family without waiting or calling on other houses.
Giving for the sake of giving or giving to ensure that one is doing something good, doesn’t always give joy. Had it been so, famous philanthropists of the world would have been the most joyful people. Hands merely offer what the heart gives. When we give cheerfully, intentionally and sacrificially, there is abundant joy. There are times when we give fearfully, grudgingly,reluctantly, ritualistically, out of certain compulsions or out of our excesses. Such giving or helping is limited to the act itself and does not yield any joy.
God loves a cheerful giver.
Its amazing to experience the enormity of joys that ooze of tiny deeds, and to impart the same to the generations that follow.