I didn't know whether I was ready to be a mother when I had my first child. The rush of pure emotions that filled me in the days that followed, as I held the tiny life close to my heart, has never quite abated. For reasons that I have not been able to decipher, it made me acutely sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, animate or inanimate, near or far, present or long dead. My family and friends would laugh at me, telling me that rushing to offer succor was a fool's errand, that the world is full of people who are only looking out for themselves, that compassion gets rewarded with scorn and indifference. I didn't care because I knew different, but I worried that my sons , growing up in this dog-eats-dog environment, would never be compassionate.
I was wrong.
I see compassion at work every day.
I see it when my son accompanies a beggar to the nearest dhaba, sits down with him as he eats a full meal, and arranges a job for him.
I see it in the alacrity with which pullovers come tumbling out when I say I am collecting woolens for a winter clothes collection drive and my son says, Away with you, friends, now you"ll have another story to tell !
I see it when the monthly allowance gets depleted much before the end of the month because some street children needed shoes and slippers.
I see it when when the nurse gets yelled at and her tears rapidly turn into a smile as my sons pulls his grandmother's leg for being a difficult patient.
I see it when I fulminate at my father in law's attempts to intervene with my son's education, and he says, Mom, he is an old man, he is anxious about his legacy.
I smile, and I know that they'll be all right. Life can never be empty or meaningless when one has a compassionate heart, and all that children need is to see you exercising compassion and so will they.
That's how the world survives, despite the moments of horror and ugliness.