OS l The Kindness of Strangers

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Posted: 5 years ago

Banner Credit: Jigs (Chokri_ASR) Thank you my darling for everything Heart


Gazing out at a tumultuous vista of stormy clouds and howling winds and pelting rain, I feel a small shiver run through me. The same sky that only a few hours back had been a glorious picture of azure perfection, with tufts of white cotton wool clouds suspended by invisible strings, was now unrecognisable in its fury. I see the same landmarks in the distance, the same trees, the same ribbons of road, yet nothing was the same. An infinitesimal moment was all it took for nature to toss away the erstwhile calm.



It makes me contemplate on the ephemeral nature of life itself. How easily are the moments spent contentedly floating in its undulations snatched away. Leaving you bereft, baffled at the suddenness of it. Memories woven lovingly, happily, now mere vignettes in my head. The sort that hurt each time they come to the fore. What did I do wrong? Did I do wrong? Why me? But why not me? A soft whisper lodges itself insidiously in my head.



I may think I am living, but life has a way of passing you by. Leaving you as a mere spectator. The love and concern of my family reaches out to envelop me in its warmth. But, I feel strangely disconnected. I am a different person from the one they are cosseting. A sense of disquietude washes over me, and their care feels almost cloying. And I hate myself for that. For being that ingrate creature who is unable to see and embrace what is genuine. For being that creature who needs to be cosseted.



As suddenly as the storm had made its appearance, it bid its goodbye. Leaving behind a wonderful sense of freshness which beckoned. Taking some bread with me, I walked to a nearby park. The bushes glittered with the clinging droplets of water the rain had left behind. Little rivulets made their way along the paths and disappeared into the warm depths of the earth. Occasional gusts of wind shook the water from overhead branches of majestic trees, showering me as I walked underneath them. It made me want to stick my tongue out to taste it. It made me want to grasp it's coolness in the palm of my hand. It made me want to run to stand under the next tree and do it all over again.



Laughing at my silliness, I continue towards the duck pond. I looked up to see an elderly man walking towards me. The dour look on his face putting a slight dampener on my nascent joy. But as he came closer, I see him give me a smile. Maybe it was in response to the remnants of the one still on my face, but that smile completely changed his grim countenance. Lighting up his face and giving me a fleeting glimpse of a person far removed from the one I thought he was. How easily we make snap judgements. What ravages has life inflicted on him? Was it loneliness that made him grim? Did I help in cheering him up, albeit momentarily? I feel a strange sense of satisfaction at that last thought.



Hearing a desultory quack in the distance, I continue down the paved pathway as it winds its way through the rose bushes. Their sweet fragrance more pronounced after the downpour. Their velvety petals drooping slightly with the weight of the rainwater. Bending to scoop a few scattered petals from the ground, I'm struck by how easily they were let go by the flower. Or were the petals themselves too weak to hold on?  How does the flower decide what it holds onto and what it doesn't? Is it even a conscious decision? Why can't I shed those painful memories and embrace what I have wholeheartedly?



Most of the ducks have waddled out of the water and are huddled on the grassy verge, Looking a bit bedraggled and very sorry for themselves. I try and coax them into helping themselves to the bread I've brought, but not many of them are interested. Most of it is eaten by the pigeons who had swooped down moments after I'd thrown the first few pieces. Sharing a quietly amused smile with an old lady sitting a few paces away on a wooden bench, I empty the remainder of the bag and begin to turn away. But, a sudden despondency hits me. Even the ducks don't want to have anything to do with me. Self pity, galling in its existence, sweeps over. Tears well up, blurring my vision as I turn round. The abrupt movement causing me to stumble and nearly fall. Wincing at the slight pain that shot up my affected leg, I begin to limp away.



"Are you alright dear?" I hear someone ask. It's the lady with whom I'd shared a smile earlier. "I'm fine Auntyji", I smile "It's just a small twinge".


"Why don't you come and sit here for a few minutes?" She suggests kindly.



Realising it would be sensible to do so, I walk towards the bench. Seeing the wet patches there, I hesitate slightly. But before I could take a seat, she stands up, telling me to sit where she had been.



"This side is dry, beta. Sit here. I'll move over. I'm only going home from here, so a little dampness won't matter." She says giving me a warm smile. I remain rooted in place as I stare at her, struck by the selflessness of her gesture. My mind floods with the images of other premeditated acts. Ones painstakingly designed to lull me into a false sense of being loved. Ones drenched in perfidy.



"Hum hamare aanewali peedi ki mangal kaamna karte hai

Bilkul aapki saaya ho hamari santaan"


"Hamari zindagi mein aapki jagah aur koi nahi le sakta

Sabse pehle aap hai, Ye hamaara vachan hai"


"Hum aap par kabhi koi bhi sankat , koi bhi dukh

Koi bhi jhooth ya dhoke ki parchayi bhi nahi padne denge

Itna pyaar jo karte hain hum aapko Rani sahiba"



I don't even realise when that abhorrence spills over and streams down my face. Or when a gentle hand guides me to sit. Or when that hand, trembling slightly with age, strokes my head soothingly and silently. Allowing me to pour out my grief, my pain.



"I'm sorry." I whisper eventually when I find my voice, embarrassed at having broken down in this manner in front of a total stranger. Her kindness acting as a trigger to my pent up emotions. It has been oddly cathartic though. I feel lighter. As though the darkness of duplicity is not all that remains in life. There is kindness. Instinctive kindness. Of strangers. For strangers. For no reason other than because they can. Be kind.



I grasp the hand that had been stroking my head and bend down to touch my forehead on them. "Thank you ... just thank you."



oOo



Note:


There was an innate grace in the way Anjali carried herself. She had always striven to see her loved ones happy. And after finally accepting Shyam's truth, I think she would bottle up her tears for just that reason. Only allowing a few to seep out in private after the initial shock had subsided. But, bottled up grief tends to find its own way out, and not always when we're ready for it.


Thank you so much for reading. Please do feel free to let me know what you think :)


Love always,

Ruchi











Edited by Arshi67 - 5 years ago
Posted: 5 years ago

Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look a touch. It is anything that lifts another person. - Plato 


You have the ability to express what many of us may feel, but rather may not act upon in our busy life that passes like the wind. Does that make sense? I have always been in awe with the way you use your words, such elegance, poise at the same time they are powerful which comes from your heart... word for word. That my love is what makes it unique and so very special for me.


The Kindness of Strangers, brought tears to my eyes. In our day to day, we often forget giving someone a smile as we pass them, or helping someone in need, makes that person's day. And at the same time, it has a profound affect on them. Even us, to see what our little gesture has done for them. Doesn't that in itself a step to making this world a better place...


Here we see a woman burying her grief, not sharing it with her loved ones. She doesn't want to be a burden. But that doesn't make her weak, we have all done that in some shape or form. Haven't we? She has been cheated on by a man she worshipped above all. And for a woman that in itself seems like one has failed. I get her. I most certainly do. There are many Anjali's out there. But how she rises from this is what makes her strong. Kash we could have seen that on the show or perhaps, maybe you, my love, can give us that closure. I think this has a potential to be a story in itself, and I am greedy as you know ;)


Reading this from Anjali's POV has left a lasting impact. I strolled through the park with her. I could feel the wetness that mother nature leaves in its aftermath. But at the same time I wanted to hide behind those raindrops. A way to wash away the pain. But it doesn't. Instead a small act by a stranger touches her to let go. It's someone that can not judge her or point fingers. Her emotions sends a dull ache to my heart at how she looks at the world. Her questions me think deeply. Like the old lady, I want to comfort her, wipe those tears away and pull her into my arms.


Your words have soul in them... Loved it loved it loved it, just the way I love you so so so much!


Yours always,

Jigs

Edited by Chokri_ASR - 5 years ago
Posted: 5 years ago
Me
___________

First, I want to say I understand. I understand what you wanted to convey. In fact I don't think I missed the name of the character you had in mind when you wrote this. There is a sense of universality to the sentiment you evoke here.

It makes sense to me - this exchange with a stranger where there is no other expectation other than her unencumbered self and this lack of expectation allows her to be herself - genuine, real and honest. 

I have always thought of those avatars we assume with our families and friends, where lines are invisibly drawn, script handed - so we follow our dialogs and exchanges. Here - this young woman had no script to follow, no lines to contend with ... so, yes I understand what you were trying to convey.

But what makes this OS stand out is the voice you used - first person. And if there was anyone I know that can use that without any strappings, it is you my dear friend. That voice carries with it a strong sense of honesty and integrity in the way it spoke here. And why should I be surprised when I know that is who you are! A piece of you in this story.

I have always had a problem with Anjali's character; she was either a victim, or an enabler when she was not being overbearingly selfish. And I always felt that her character was the one that was least explored.

Reading this OS gives me immense satisfaction; because to me, this makes sense. This is the Anjali who Arnav adored - she is worthy of that adoration. This is the Anjali we all got to see briefly in the first two seasons. And that you have tapped into that Anjali with such effectiveness and brought her here is just so gratifying.

But what you have done is more - you have added a quiet layer of dignity to her sorrow, gave it stature and humanity. That she is able to mourn her loss (which is what it was for her) with freedom and liberation, without any strings attached is just par excellence. 

As always,  you leave me stupefied and I have to work my way out of that to writing a comment worthy of your writing.

I loved it, Bas.

--M
Edited by Mirabell - 5 years ago
Posted: 5 years ago
You brought out Anjali's pain so well here.
She is such a loving person.
Spent years giving so much love to others in the hope of getting some for herself.
The person she loved and worshipped like God let her down. 
One could feel her pain.
A little act of kindness from a stranger made her break down in tears. It was heartbreaking.
Edited by 1chilly - 5 years ago
Posted: 5 years ago
"Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind."
Henry James

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."
Dalai Lama XIV

"No one has ever become poor by giving."
Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank: the play

In this short drabble, you have given Anjali the dignity she deserves, you have reminded me why I fell in love with her character in the show, the one that was kind, the one that withstood the test of time, the one the despite the terrible hand life has dealt her, did not let it bring her down, let it change her, like it had done her brother. That is the Anjali I know and love, and the caricature they had made of her character during the end of the show was nothing short of murder.

And the thought behind this drabble...to borrow from our dear Arnavji, kya bolun ab? You have always been that stranger for me, R. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that this drabble comes from you. You are kind and sweet, and always know just the right thing to say. I am so glad to have you in my life <3

And please for the love of god, write more! You cannot deprive us of this!
Edited by BlueMystique - 5 years ago
Posted: 5 years ago
Thanks Mira 

**********************************

Ruchi, what a beautiful piece of work. Clap

I read it last night and was having this lump in the throat for a long time.

And yes Anjali was one character who suffered the most. 

She faced the worst betrayal at the hands of the person she loved the most.
And over that losing a child was the final blow. 

But yet she tried to be strong in front of her family, because she did not want them to suffer like her or for her.

And your story further showed how much she was suffering inside.

Many times just a touch or a smile from someone be it known or unknown can relive us so much from our pain and suffering is something which is beyond words.
You have written it just beautifully. 


Thank you for this wonderful OS.
Edited by canapoem - 5 years ago
Posted: 5 years ago
Ruchi first of all where do you get these ideas from? Clap This is such a poignant piece of writing. Your understanding of Anjali is so palpable. 
 I have to think what should I write in order to justify this and this does not happen easily Embarrassed 



Anjali is my favorite SIL. She had all the qualities of the good person. She was a strong woman. The woman who had gone through so much in life can not be spineless the way the show portrayed it. She does not want Shyam to be back. 

I have often wondered would it be a different story if that cell phone was not lost? Would it be a different story if she would had seen/heard Shyam what he did? Would she be in less distress? A bride who was left at the mandap by her groom is now deceived by her husband. Her brother who is world to her is against her husband. A husband whom she put it on pedestal. For sure her grief is beyond one's imagination. 

Now on your OS:

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. Mark Twain


How true is it that nature depicts our mind. If we are happy then the spring showers are welcomed and if not then the same showers are a burden. Your description of the nature as she sees is justClap
At times we forget how a little gesture is too big for someone. It can prove to be life altering for some. 
It is so true that there is so much distress and grief in the world and how just a smile from stranger can relieve the burden of mountains from the heart of bearer. In this case the lady does not even know why is she crying? She even does not want to know. Yet the knowledge that she made someone cry must be hard on her. That Thank You said it all yet she will be taking this Anjali for ever with her. 



In our race to compete we tend to forget the little gestures of life and its meaning. A note of thanks when a cleaner takes that garbage from our pace or hi to door man goes a very long way. 


Edited by -Bhavi - 5 years ago
Posted: 5 years ago
Sigh! You, the wonder in your writing and the strange yet poignant and unfathomable bond you share with Anjali! It evokes emotions I've never felt for her before. It makes me see her as her...not Chotey's Di, Rani Sahiba or Anjali bitiya...but just Anjali.

Fantastic as always!! Will come back after I read it again in peace!

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