The rewards of generosity

Be it happiness or unhappiness, what we radiate around us is what we ultimately get back. This nuggest of wisdom formed in my mind since childhood. I was rather enlightened by this cardinal truth after witnessing the strange vagaries in the life of a Brahmin cook employed at my father’s place when I was young.

The cook, a middle-aged woman, started working for us after the sudden demise of her spouse, who had left her and five young children to fend for themselves. She was in such financial straits that, at times, she had to ineluctably send her children to seek alms in the neighbourhood.The memory of my first visit to her place is etched in my mind even today. Her home was just a dingy, single-room dilapidated abode with a rickety chair being the solitary piece of furniture. I felt a heart-wrenching pain when I saw her grappling with a kerosene-fuelled stove that had a bad leakage at its base. She was in the process of rustling up a few ragi rotis for her children with whatever provisions available.   

She tried offering a couple of rotis to me too. Her penury-stricken state notwithstanding, indeed she was too open-handed, which was truly her most sterling quality. Apparently, her indigent social status neither thwarted her gusto in helping others in myriad ways, nor stymied her awe-inspiring generous acts. She was the one who imbued me with the valuable lesson that one needn’t necessarily be rich to be generous in life.

This she tried proving by distributing daily her share of snacks and savouries among neighbours whose places she visited to do sundry kitchen chores for that extra money. Her munificence would leave everyone stupefied, especially after seeing some of the rich folks wallowing in wealth, being such niggardly skinflints! Later, we lost all track of her when she shifted residence elsewhere.

Then after two decades, fortuitously I met her at a veggie market. She beamed with unreserved joy as she recounted how her three sons had landed lucrative jobs owing to their good educational qualifications. Her two daughters too were wedded to undemanding, well-heeled families. She herself looked stunning, decked out in a shimmering sari with splendid gold ornaments to boot.

I must say I did feel truly happy to see her. Indeed, she had been rewarded for her singular generosity and for her quality of radiating happiness. That day I realised that the ‘remuneration or retribution’ for our respective good or bad deeds may not be instantaneously obtained. But surely, it would come back to us with all intensity some day.

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