As I sat down to write my next blog, an image flashed before my eyes instantly. It was of a child – Baby.
Her chocolate brown skin, chubby cheeks, those large eyes gazing steadily, are still etched in my mind. She was 2 years old. She was one among 20 other children who were seated on the muddy floor of a Balwadi (a village crèche). The reason she caught my attention is because she was not eating. We all coaxed her to eat. But she maintained her stare. Finally, Sumitra, the Balwadi Sanchalika (caretaker) forced a morsel into her tiny mouth. Soon enough the food fell all over the Baby’s body. Baby was neither able to hold the food in her mouth nor chew it. I asked Sumitra what was wrong? Why was Baby refusing to eat? Sumitra revealed Baby’s stick-thin legs by turning up the hem of her pants. Baby was severely malnourished. Baby had become lean and lacked the energy for just about anything.
Lunch time was over. It was playtime. All kids ran outside to play on a toy slide. Baby couldn’t even stand. We were asking multiple questions to Sumitra about the Balwadi’s cleanliness in general and Baby’s health in particular. While I was discussing and sympathizing about Baby’s fate, a young boy – 2 years elder to Baby – did something that left me open-jawed. He picked her up and placed her on each step of the slide, made her sit on the very top of the slide. He then sat next to her. They came down the slide together. I could see a glint of happiness in Baby’s eyes. The delight on Manish’s face was immense. As I saw him repeat the process, I smiled.
Manish demonstrated a maturity that I had failed to display. In some situations, we tend to over analyze and then act. If we, eventually, actually do it anyway. In other words, we use our heads way more than our hearts. We are stuck in the labyrinth of the good, the bad and the ugly. In contrast to this, there are situations in which we use our hearts more and end up sympathizing. Like I did, when I saw Baby. I was just feeling bad for her but did not use my head. No solutions to make Baby feel better came to me. My head was clouded with emotions. Manish, however, was the only one to think about how Baby would feel left out while others enjoyed the slide. He was successful in making her smile. He was able to come up with a quick and simple solution. The joy on his face reflected his accomplishment. Happiness comes from seemingly small acts that connect us to other people. Strange enough, I keep encountering random acts of kindness that create inseparable bonds. Yet again, it leads me to the topic of empathy. Relationships flourish and situations improve only when there is genuine empathetic connection. That day Manish taught me, what I believe now, to be the true meaning of empathy. I learnt an important lesson from him – to be able to connect and find solutions, our heads must be anchored to our hearts.
“The truth is, rarely a response to make something better – what makes something better is connection.” – Brene Brown