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Giving is living

Back in my childhood, I vividly remember my grandmother's daily routine of preparing oil-free chapathis to feed the dogs and crows that gathered near our gate.
Last Updated 28 February 2024, 01:55 IST

In the Kannada film Paropakari starring Dr Rajkumar, a famous song with lyrics by R N Jayagopal makes a reference to Sarvagna’s Tripadi, which reads kottidhu thanage, bacchitidhu pararige, (rougly translated as what we give will be ours and what we withhold will belong to others). The song beautifully explores the theme of giving and its transformative experience in our lives.

I have realised this truth by recounting the way my grandparents and parents lived. Back in my childhood, I vividly remember my grandmother's daily routine of preparing oil-free chapathis to feed the dogs and crows that gathered near our gate. Her kindness extended to the maid, Thimmakka, as she secretly insisted, “Don’t tell anyone, Thimakka, sip your coffee peacefully while I do the dishes. You also deserve a break." Thimakka, touched, would, with tears of gratitude, smile and sip her coffee. 

My mother, uninterested in recognition, generously helped those in need. When she heard a poor lady at the gate asking for food, money, or clothes, she would not only feed her but also give her thambula, which included a fruit, betel leaf, arecanut, dakshine (money), and a silk saree.

Her response to all our questioning looks, was simple: "I have enough and more; giving away one saree won't make a difference to my life." She wouldn’t boast about it to others, and her selfless love returned to her twofold. Meanwhile, my dad, without expecting anything, shared his knowledge of stage management and make-up with countless youngsters, leaving a lasting impression on them. Even today, they remember him when I go to shoot on many sets.

Generosity wasn't a lesson in their moral science class or a topic for self-promotion; it was ingrained in their way of life. It was part of their nature to respond, reciprocate, and reach out to others.

My grandfather would organise an outing for all the children in our area to the ‘Grand Circus,’ which was a big deal those days. He was not a rich man. But money was never an issue for him. The spirit of spreading joy and reaching out dominated everything else. It was their innate nature to ‘give’ and ‘share’.

They laughed more, slept better, and had cheerful personalities. We need to take a leaf from the lives of our ancestors. They were ‘giving’ in more ways than one. On an emotional level too, I remember my mom never hesitating to compliment someone. She would say that if there is an opportunity to bring a smile to someone, never postpone it. 

Today, there are multiple ways to connect, and there is an abundance of all we need, but we somehow prioritise virtual connections over real relationships. Though we live in a so-called global village, we have succeeded in creating islands of isolation. 

Like the saying goes, ‘we make a living from what we get, and we make a life from what we give’. I wonder if my mom is whispering to me, ‘Give and learn to live.’

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(Published 28 February 2024, 01:55 IST)

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