One evening we noticed a family unloading their belongings off a lorry. The flat opposite ours had been lying vacant for a long time and we learnt from a local property consultant that it had been purchased by a family from Nagpur. The interior works had been completed to their satisfaction and only now did the family decide to shift in. The family had elderly people, possibly the parents of the middle-aged owner of the flat, and their son and daughter in law. Just a glance told me that the elders were very tired and the day long shifting procedures had fatigued them. I recalled my own time when we were shifting into our flat, how tiring and time consuming the entire process of packing, loading and then unloading, unpacking actually is.
I observed that while all their stuff was as yet packed and lying haphazardly in the flat, there was no decent place to sit and relax. Out of courtesy, I invited the elders to my flat and offered them the comfortable sanctuary of my drawing room. I served the elderly some water and unobtrusively asked my wife to prepare tea for them. While my wife and the elderly couple launched into unending talks, I disappeared to assist the family with unloading their stuff. At the end when all the items had been moved into the flat and placed at their intended location did the couple realise that I was not one among the ‘packer and mover’ help staff. In the heat of the moment and eagerness to help my new neighbours I had forgotten to introduce myself. They might have been wondering who I was and why was I helping them. So, at the end of the enervating exercise I launched into perfunctory introductions and invited them to my flat where their parents were snugly ensconced. By this time the elders had thoroughly recuperated from exhaustion. We all guffawed and engaged into hearty conversation, which I must confess, that it was highly relaxing and cathartic.
We came to know that the man of the house, senior Mr Biswas was an ex-insurance employee while his son Sandeep Biswas was the regional head of a multinational bank and had moved to Delhi upon his exaltation. My wife played the perfect host and she invited the family for dinner, knowing very well that their kitchen would not be ready to host tonight’s dinner. How soon and so spontaneously we had found new friends and company was heartening. Had it not been out genuine desire to render help to a family in need, we might not have found friendship. It is the feeling of empathy and compassion in our heart that makes us truly human, sets us apart from other forms of life. Often it not so cumbersome and uncomfortable to maintain these feelings, the only impediment that stops us short of enjoying all the goodness in life is our own self and ego. Why should we shy away from offering help to a stranger in a situation that demands genuine assistance? Break free from the clutches and see how beautiful life is without the self-erected walls. It is a two-way street of ‘give and take’ that leads to shared togetherness, that wins hearts and makes this world a better place.