When the giver receives...

When the giver receives...

Nobody could say of Shanta that she was tight-fisted or not a generous gift giver. She had fine-tuned gifting to a subtle art that enabled her to choose the right gift for the right person at the right time. And of course, there was that inner glow of warmth and fulfillment that enveloped her every time she shared her largesse with others.

On her annual visit home, Shanta would come laden with presents for all her friends and relatives in India. How she managed with excess baggage was another one of her well-guarded secrets, but the joy and satisfaction it gave her was well worth the price.   

Whilst all in her inner circle basked in the bounty of her generous nature, behind her back they all agreed that although she was a good gift giver, she did not fare as well on the other side of the coin: she was not a gracious and appreciative receiver of gifts.

She appeared to carry a chip on her shoulder that seemed to imply that getting gifts for her was a waste of time, effort and money as she wanted for nothing or that nothing was ever good enough for her. This tendency was offensive and hurtful to those close to her but in more practical terms, it put them in a quandary as to how to return the favour with a suitable gift for Shanta.

It was quite definitely against their pride not to give her something in return. They fought and argued, wracked their brains and weighed various options in order to find the right solution to their problem. Time was also running out with Shanta having already announced to all and sundry the date and time of her intended departure back home.

With the appointed day looming threateningly close, two of her best friends sought courage and comfort in numbers and decided to call on Shanta together, armed with their respective gifts. Sujatha’s choice for Shanta was an illustrated coffee table book and Salma had picked a hand-embroidered tablecloth. They both sat down over coffee in Shanta’s tastefully decorated living room and waited with eager anticipation as Shanta was prompted to open her gifts.

Shanta picked up the first packet, tore open the colourful gift wrapper and taking one look at Salma’s tablecloth announced, “Oh, that really doesn’t match the colour-scheme in my dining room. But never mind, my friend Yamini has a birthday coming up next month, maybe I can pass it on to her.” Salma’s jaw dropped at Shanta’s thoughtless remark, but she smiled back sheepishly.

Next, it was the turn of Sujatha’s gift. Shanta eyed the package, hurriedly opened it and setting aside the book with a dismissive gesture, pointed out archly, “I already have a signed copy of that book, autographed by the author himself.” Stung and hurt at Shanta’s insensitive words, Sujatha struggled to fight back her tears. Shattered and crestfallen, the two friends returned home with little joy in their hearts for all their efforts in gift giving.

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