My dearest darlings, In your book, X is for Xylophone. You have a toy one. Each wooden bar is of a different colour, seemingly a stranger to the other, and yet they resound together and make sweet music.
They stand together, their arms around each other's shoulders, propping each other up. And they remind me of a word that I want to draw your attention to. Xenodochial is a word of Greek origin and means being hospitable or kindly to strangers.
We are all strangers at some time or the other. Strangers in a foreign land, strangers in our own land, feeling lost and helpless. We've stepped out of the comfort of our homes, where they know us and put up with our quirks. We are unsure of what to do, and we hope someone will notice our predicament and help us.
Yes, we are all strangers sometimes.
I remember an act of kindness done to your Uncle A. He was standing in queue, waiting to pay his fees and secure his admission to an engineering college. Suddenly he received the news that the final amount to be paid was Rs X, as opposed to Rs Y, as intimated earlier. He found himself short of a few thousand rupees. And it was the last day of the admission procedure.
Those were the late '80s. There were very few ATMs around. Your Uncle A had no option but to return home and wait for your Papa to go to the bank and withdraw money. There was no way he would be able to retain his admission.
Of course, Papa was at work, and the rest of us were at home, so we had no idea about the insecurities and fears that suddenly took a stranglehold of him.
And yet he came home, bursting with joy.
Apparently, the mother of a fellow applicant standing by in the queue offered to pay the balance for him. Just like that. It was a big amount in those days. And yet she offered to pay it. Of course, Uncle A repaid the money once college began.
I often think of that woman. Of her large heart and her act of kindness for a total stranger. Of the way she gave without worrying about whether she would see her money again.
There are many kinds of kindness. Some require us to part with our money, others require our time or our energy. Sometimes they may brighten someone's day. Or they may alter someone's life.
Every day, we face numerous opportunities to help someone we don't know. Someone who may or may not be in a position to repay our kindness.
Are we ready to give without hesitation?
My wish for you is that you may never forget that we are all in need of kindness. And as He said, the measure we give is the measure in which we will get.
That's all for this week.
I'll see you on Monday. Meanwhile, we'll read our much-thumbed Winnie the Pooh together, and you, my darlings, can teach me to laugh until my sides hurt.