Spread smiles :)

by, elizabeth shilpa abraham
alumni mace 2012 passout
If someone asks me what is the easiest thing a common man can do for his fellow beings, I would say without hesitation-spread smiles! Coz recently I experienced the immense joy which even floods your heart, when u become the reason of that slight little curve. Its not a great a deed that I am going to state below, but I had never felt this kind of a joy, a satisfaction in any of the recent years and moreover it was an incident which helped me to overcome a rather serious weakness of mine, so I value it a lot!

December 12th-it was the birthday of my sister. In the evening we had gone out for a dinner. We had a nice time, nice food and the evening was quite good. My sister had to apply for AIEEE which required a b&w photo with name and date on it. So on the way back home we stopped at the studio and acha went out to collect the photos which were already taken. We remained in the car itself which was parked a few meters beyond the traffic junction. I was watching the night traffic while I noticed something. It wasn’t anything unusual, but a man selling balloons. What made me noticed him was that he still carried big red balloons with him, five or six of them. It was late for anyone to buy his balloons anymore. The red light flashed periodically and vehicles kept on halting accordingly. The man kept on running to each vehicle that stopped, holding up his balloons, persuading and pleading to the people inside to buy one, in spite of the disappointment he received in return each time. It was touching. None could be blamed. And then I felt this urge to do the slightest thing I could do. After all, this man was working hard to meet the two ends (I usually don’t consider beggars who are neither kids nor disabled/week, who don’t utilize their strength and body to work or earn.)
I told amma softly “amma, I want a balloon!” Amma laughed hearing it and my sister mocked “a 21 year old baby needs balloon.” I dint say anything and added after a while “what is that pour man going to do with his blown balloons!” “So that is the thing!” amma should have thought at mind and replied after a while “അതിപ്പോ ഒരു 7-8 എണ്ണം പൊട്ടിച്ചു കളഞ്ഞാലും അയാള്‍ക്കു നഷ്ടമൊന്നും വരാനില്ലെടി. അതിനുള്ള ലാഭം അയാള്‍ ബാക്കിയുള്ളതില്‍ നിന്ന് ഉണ്ടാക്കുന്നുണ്ടാവും.” I felt disappointed. I started my usual habit of cursing myself for not being able to convince others what I felt right. But for some reason, this time I wasn’t ready to leave it like that. I decided to try once again. 

 Softly I said, as if to myself “അത്ര വലിയ ലാഭമുള്ള കച്ചവടമായിരുന്നെങ്കില്‍ അയാള്‍ക്കു എന്നും ഈ ബലൂണുകളും കൊണ്ട് ഇവിടെ വന്നിങ്ങനെ നിന്നു ഓരോ വണ്ടിയുടെയും പുറകെ ഓടേണ്ട ഗതികേട് വരില്ലായിരുന്നല്ലോ..” I wasn’t sure what impact my words made. Amma maintained silence. My sister who didn’t understand what my words meant repeated those words again and again and tried to decipher it. Nothing happened for a few moments and then acha came back. He got inside the car and turned on the ignition. I understood that once again I was turning out to be a failure. 

As the car started moving forward, the red light blinked and we stopped at the junction right near the balloon man. He glanced inside with his little grey eyes. He had started giving up his fight and didn’t seem to care us much for there were no kids among us. I observed his empty face. I couldn’t differentiate between indifference and disappointment from there. His face complexion was dark,probably  rendered by his life and the starless night added to it. 
A few year old memory of a carpet vendor came to my mind from somewhere, then. It was also a night like this. People were hurrying home and we too were in our car on our way back home from town. The car was parked on the roadside, acha had gone to buy rice and vegetables and the poor carpet vendor was outside our car pleading to buy a carpet. He had to sell 8 more carpets without which he could not return for some reason that I don’t remember. But it was genuine I could say! He was crying, literally, tears rolling down his cheeks. The poor man had no other go. Probably, parked along the roadside, we were his last resort. There was no hope about moving vehicles and the people inside it. Whose concern is a crying carpet vendor, in the hurry to reach home?! When acha came back I requested him to buy one, but he brushed aside my request easily, asking “നിനക്ക് വേറെ പണിയൊന്നുമില്ലേ?! ഇതൊക്കെ കള്ളക്കന്നീരല്ലേ!!” I couldn’t do anything more than spilling out a few more ‘please’s, to which a grown up’s ears could be easily shut. The wheels rolled forward, leaving behind the man, his hopes, his struggles and his tears.Even now that face, wet with tears, occasionally appears before me and upsets me for a second. But such disturbances are easily whisked away by our day to day matters about which we are obviously more concerned.
Returning to the moment were I was standing, I could tell it was going to transform into another upsetting memory like the carpet vendor which would keep on appearing before the eyes during careless moments, and then would vanish away. 
But this time, unlike the previous time, fate was with me. Out from nowhere, suddenly, amma turned to me and asked “do you want balloon?” I almost jumped out of the seat with joy. Adding still more infinity to my infinity(the only word with which I could measure my joy), amma asked my sister “don’t you need one? shall we buy two?” I can say I almost saw a naughty smile in the corner of her lips where I could recognize God himself! I was astonished to find myself howling “yes yes, buy two, buy two!!!” He himself might have been struck with surprise, to see us buying balloons and with glistening wondering eyes he showed two balloons inside. Amma searched inside her purse for money and I stretched my hands towards him to get the balloons.
At that very moment, the green light flashed and my father who sat concentrating in the traffic signal and who was totally unaware of the business going on at the back, took the car forward. No way!!! I felt like being doomed! This couldn’t be happening. I looked back. The desperate guy with his balloons were running behind us. Our car was moving forward itself as acha couldn’t understand what the matter was as the three of us were screaming together making the words unrecognizable and asking to stop the car. I looked back again. He was still running, trying to stretch his thin short legs as long as possible, holding the balloons as tight as his hopes floating behind him. For a few seconds, yet another human life was unfolding its miseries, its pathetic state which urges its owner to go to any end for a piece of bread, right before my eyes. I was certain that it was the severity of those miseries that fueled his feet that was probably aching from standing and running all day, to run behind us without giving up. I couldn’t stand the scene and was almost at the verge of tears. The faces of the carpet vendor and the balloon seller seemed to merge into one dark empty face. I turned away my face..
But this time, fate had a different ending for the story, in store for me. I wasn’t alone this time. Although I was about to give up, Amma and my sister continued their persuasion and managed to convince acha finally. He parked the car along the roadside. Without being able to believe what was happening, I pulled myself together and looked back once again. He was still running and reached near us within seconds with his balloons. Amma gave him money and bought two balloons. In that second I found something common about both of our faces-a smile. I felt proud that I played this role in contributing it to him.
While looking out through the window, with the heart shaped red balloon in my hands, with the cold breeze against my face, I could recognise that the tears that had emerged into my eyes earlier, had not dried up. They were rolling down my cheeks now, with my contented smile kissing them from beneath… 🙂
“Keep the joy of loving God in your heart and share this joy with all you meet”
                                                                                                                 -Mother Theresa

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