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Monday, February 2, 2015
"There is a surprise awaiting you!"
Jan 31st, 2015 was easily one of the happiest days of my life.
Four days prior to that date, there was a mail from one Anila Thomas at office to the Indians Mailing list, requesting if anyone knew a good cook who can make 50 Rotis and a non-vegetarian Biryani for 40 people. She wanted the food to be delivered to her home in Foster City, which is about 30 miles away from my place.
Nothing unusual about the mail, it was a routine request. But what was not routine was, it was the first time I replied to such emails!
Before replying to the email I called up Rachana and asked if she would be willing to make 50 Rotis for my office person. She was very happy to do it, but she excused herself saying she will not be able to drive that far to Foster City to deliver the food. It was understandable.
Well, who is Rachana?
I replied to Anila (who, by the way, was not my acquaintance that time), saying my wife's friend Rachana Sharma is a good cook. That she was suffering in a bad marriage. That her husband had deserted her and her two children. That their divorce proceedings were afoot. That she was managing the household somehow, by cooking at other people's homes etc. And that she can make the 50 Rotis. And I wrote something which I have never done before in my life: I told Anila that I will drive to her home and deliver the food!
Her situation is much worse than what I had written, and I will leave it there. Rachana is originally from Madhya Pradesh. Concerned for her, my wife had even advised her to do a Suvasini Pooja; she helped and guided her to do the pooja approximately three months back! And per advice of Kanchi Swamigal, my wife suggested that Rachana recite Shiva Sahasranamam so that problems in a family are alleviated.
Moved by my email, Anila replied to me within 2 hours, saying she would love to place a bigger order with Rachana, for an appetizer, a vegetable curry and the rotis! Two days later Anila called up Rachana and altered the order, now for a much bigger one!
The above order was modestly priced by Rachana at $173 US dollars.
Saturday January 31st had arrived. My wife and myself went to Rachana's home at 4 pm. (Not sure how long she can call that home, as plans are in place by her husband to sell it). We carefully loaded the aromatic trays of the food in our car and started for Foster City. I have never driven so slowly in my life! As I wanted the food to be intact and not spill. It was as if a new born baby was in the car.
Reached Anila's place by 5 pm. Carefully took all the trays and placed them on the kitchen counter in her house. This was the first time I am meeting Anila. She is a Malayali Christian and she said there was a prayer meeting that evening at her place and that is why she ordered the food!
Now here is how an act of kindness is contagious and how it spreads.
Despite being a non-vegetarian she cared enough to place a full vegetarian order with Rachana! And when I was about to leave, Anila gave me $200 US dollars, 27 more than what the order was priced at!
My wife and self were on cloud 9, flush with happiness. True Happiness. While driving back I was telling my wife that I wanted to taste Rachana's food. And that when we plan to go to a restaurant next time, we must skip that and instead order the food from Rachana. But we will tell her that the food is for someone else, for only then she will accept the money from us.
We came to Rachana's place and handed her over the $200 dollars. "Please, 200 dollars is a lot of money for me", she said. I said, it was Anila's way of showing her kindness. She said she earns $400 to $600 per month by making food, but now she got $200 in just one day! Very rarely have I seen a more contented and happy face, that was on Rachana. And then I broke away from my plan and told Rachana that one day I wanted to taste her food. She gave me a knowing, joyful smile and said, "Go to your home and see. There is a surprise awaiting you!"
We rushed home. And on the table we saw a packet of Muttar Paneer, a packet of Biryani and a portion of Kheer. Given the context of the whole thing, they had never tasted better!
Let us live for others, without expecting anything in return. It is pure, unalloyed happiness. And kindness spreads. These are not mere empty words.