Acts of grace

Quite recently, I happened to be on a holiday with my family at a resort in Goa located next to the serene Arabian Sea. While lazing on the smooth sands that unforgettable evening, enjoying the magical glory of the setting sun,
its dazzling crimson rays playing with celestial splendour over the dancing waves of the sea, I noticed another heart-warming beauty reflecting human divinity.

Not far from me sat an octogenarian couple, their frail frames relaxing in their wheelchairs. Their sunken eyes sparkled, absorbing the mesmerisingly delightful ambience of the beach as youngsters merged themselves in gay abandon with the waves. The benevolent smiles the old couple exchanged seemed to speak volumes of their memorable youthful days. Soon, a buoyant group of four girls in their early teens approached the couple and offered to escort them to the soothing splash of the waves.

As if their wishes were becoming the proverbial horses, the sportive seniors gratefully agreed, whereupon the smiling foursome slowly and lovingly guided them to knee-deep waters. The overjoyed couple let themselves free, relishing the thrill of keeping their balance holding each other's hands as the receding waves swept the sands beneath their feet. They mingled with the young ones splashing around gleefully, totally oblivious of their age and frail physique.

As I stood transfixed watching this ennobling scene, the pleasantly exhausted couple were escorted back to their wheelchairs, their faces beaming. Seating them safely, the charming angels hugged the couple and planted kisses on their cheeks before flying off to meet the waves, as the grateful duo watched them with their tear-filled eyes.

This was one of the several acts of human compassion I had witnessed in the course of my life, and my thoughts flew back to a similar episode which is indelibly etched in my mind for its sheer degree of human grace. When I was in primary school, my classmate Seena, the most brilliant and lively among us, was the cynosure of all eyes. He would regale us by accurately imitating the mannerisms and intonations of the particular subject teacher with amazing ease. He was at his best while playing the role of Kannada teacher in his sing-song accent.

When the school reopened after one summer vacation, Seena's absence was conspicuous. We were in for a rude shock when we learnt that he was bedridden, a victim of the dreaded cancer! But nothing could take away his indomitable spirit and even in that condition, he expressed his desire to play the role of his favourite Kannada teacher. When this was conveyed to our headmaster, he arranged to get Seena to our class, fully dressed in a tucked dhoti, close-collared coat and Mysore turban with strict instructions to us to obey the 'teacher' and allow him full liberty to fulfil his wish.

Seena performed his final act with great aplomb as we watched in melancholic silence and our Kannada teacher, who was also present, was moved to tears. "Class, silence please!" were his last words before he fell silent himself.

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