Love, unconditionally

To this day, Akka's cup of coffee to me has epitomised the acme of humanity.

It was Valentine’s Day, that day years ago. I was in college then, and all my hostel mates were enthused by the very idea of Valentine’s Day. Somehow, I seemed a bit low, and chose to skip dinner, while the rest had a blast listening to music on a high decibel.

Just then, as I was sulking in my room, a sympathetic roomie brought me my dinner with some violets from “an admirer”. I was way too timid, and shy, to admit how pleased I was, but now years later I have to say that memory still makes me smile. More so, when I still don’t even know who was it that sent those flowers to cheer me up!

Of such memories is Valentine’s Day made of, and teenage too. A time when all of us suffer many a heartache, a “crush” – as adults so airily call that rather painful, yet so powerful, so poignant, and so often “celebrated” moment in our life.

I must admit, as an aside, that love was an “off limits” subject for me in my wonder years, sort of like bitter gourd. It was only much later, when I did a brief stint as a substitute teacher for children of pre-primary school, that my world opened up, and, yes, my heart learnt to love unconditionally. Who wouldn’t, when embraced daily by those adorable babes who came running into your arms upon seeing you?

To say that life changed from then on would be really an understatement. For since then, I have understood my teenage friends better when they waxed eloquent about infatuations, and I don’t hesitate to shed copious tears whenever I see tearjerkers like “Sleepless in Seattle” or “K3G” for the umpteenth time! The transformation to a “softer me” was completed thanks to those dear adorable children who lisped innocently, and so easily expressed their love for me, while I fumbled at the very onset.

But, to get back to my current topic, I had an interesting experience the other day. Having seen me out during my constitutional one day, this lady on my “walking route” invited me for a cup of coffee. You have no idea how touched I was! I was, after all, a perfect stranger. Anyway, we got talking – me in my broken Kannada and she with her much more fluent diction – and I learnt that she lived nearby and worked very hard to stay afloat.

To this day, that cup of coffee to me epitomised the acme of humanity unrivalled by what Bill Gates would ever dream of offering; after all, it came from a person who couldn’t afford such a luxury on a routine scale.

I was going through what some would call a “writers block” just then, but after listening to her, I decided to get back on track, working with renewed zest. In fact, I decided to dedicate this piece to her. Some of her acquaintances may read, and be inspired. But I had learnt a lesson in unconditional love. It is not merely loving one you know or giving what comes easily to you, but also being quite willing to give when you have little. Thank you, Akka (sister), for this lesson.

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