PHILANTHROPY is a word often used for effect by business czars and socialites. From boardrooms to kitty parties, conversations are liberally sprinkled with it. But my best lesson in ‘philanthropy’ arrived disguised in the simplest of forms — a little street child down the road.
One day, driving down the Chirag Dilli BRT corridor, I was waiting for the signal to turn green, when a little child selling bright red dahlias walked up to me. His dazzling smile intact, he prompted me to buy some flowers. I gently refused, but he wouldn’t budge. Finally, I told him I didn’t need them and drove into a lane nearby. He followed me through into it and as I parked there to get some snacks packed, waiting for the parcel to arrive, there he came again, this time, a friend in tow!
Softened by their warm smiles, I cheerily took out my phone camera and clicked a picture of them together and showed it to them. They seemed happy. And then, instinctively, he started plucking a beautiful dahlia from one of his flower bunches to give to me … just like that! No negotiations, no bargaining, nothing! I insisted and told him not to do it since he could sell it to someone else but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He handed me the flower and walked off. The flower remained there in my car for a good 3-4 days as a sweet memory.
I would have probably forgotten about this incident had I not bumped into the same kid again a few days later, this time selling a bunch of red roses. He recognised me, smiled and came running to sell me the flowers at least this time. Now, like every regular on the BRT stretch used to insistent hawkers at every traffic junction, I have also learnt the art of saying no to things I don’t need. That day too, after the initial request to buy and the ensuing happy chatter, he promptly took out a bunch of roses and gave them to me, with no expectations whatsoever and no guarantees if I would ever land up buying from him in the future. He gave a gift of love… simply, beautifully, merrily!
It set me thinking and I realised that giving has nothing to do with what or how much we have. It is surely not a matter of possessing money or material things. It’s about the willingness to share whatever we have with an open heart. We don’t need millions to be generous. We could have nothing and yet be the epitome of generosity, just the way this child was! If we don’t have the money, we could just lend a helping hand. We could give people our time, a patient hearing or just affectionate care. If we have nothing at all, we could just give them a smile that makes their day. As Kahlil Gibran soulfully wrote, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
Courtesy: STOI / Life