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Want to make the world a better place? Being kind is the first step forward

In our daily lives, though we seldom acknowledge our random acts of unprovoked meanness, but we never forget when someone is unkind to us.

sex and relationships Updated: Nov 14, 2016 12:24 IST
Sneha Bengani
World Kindness Day is observed on November 13 every year.
World Kindness Day is observed on November 13 every year. (Shutterstock)

The axe forgets but the tree remembers. - African proverb

If you were asked about the last time someone was mean to you, it wouldn’t take you more than a minute to narrate the unfortunate incident. However, if you were asked about the last time you were unkind to someone, it is likely that you may not be able to think of a single instance for a long time.

That’s how human memory works. In our daily lives, we seldom acknowledge our random acts of unprovoked meanness, but we never forget when someone is unkind to us.

People usually talk about the kindest thing done to them or the nicest thing they recently did for someone but rarely do they discuss the commonplace, unthinking acts of selfishness. However, it is only by discussing how mean we really are that we can truly emphasise on the need for kindness in our everyday actions.

Today, on World Kindness Day, we reached out to a cross-section of people from across the country asking them to share their story of when someone’s unkindness really hurt them. Most of the incidents listed below happened years ago in the lives of the people mentioned but unsurprisingly, they never left them.

Attacking physical appearance

Some scars never heal. (Shutterstock)

“Someone I had a crush on asked me if I had ever seen my face in the mirror. I was 13 then. I’ve been insecure about the way I look ever since,” says Shreya Chatterji, a 37-year-old associate professor at Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar.

Nishi Dugar, a student at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, traces her story back to the time she was born. “An aunt visited my mum in the hospital right after my birth. But when she saw me, she couldn’t help saying to my mum, ‘Cheeee Didi! She is sooo dark!’ My mother once told me this and even after all these years, I still cannot understand how someone can be so insensitive,” says Dugar.

Apeksha Sethia, a Mumbai-based businesswoman, wasn’t allowed to participate in a dance performance in school once because she was fat. “The teachers wanted only good-looking girls to be on the stage. They did not even consider me,” she says. Sethia suffered from serious anorexia post school and lost about 25 kilos in her first year in college.

When family hurts

It is usually our dear ones who end up hurting us the most. (Shutterstock)

Priya Mehta, a Jaipur-based fashion designer, recalls how her father did not visit the hospital to see her after she was born. “I was his second girl-child. So he didn’t bother, I guess. He’s been a great father to me and my siblings but I can never forget that he didn’t want me,” she says.

Tanmay Gupta, an Indore-based businessman, used to stammer as a child. “My cousins, considerably older to me, would make fun of me all the time, so much so that I would try to not talk in front of people,” he says. Gupta stopped stammering as he grew older but he still fears addressing people in crowds or talking on stage.

Arjun Pradhan, a Kolkata-based investment banker, still remembers the time when he was preparing for Class 12 Board exams. “I wanted to get into Delhi University and was preparing very hard for it. My mother, however, didn’t want me to leave home. She tried to convince me about it in several ways but I was adamant.

“We had one of these discussions once again a month before my first exam. Seeing it wasn’t going anywhere, exasperated, my mother told me she hoped I scored poorly in exams so that I would not make it to the cut-off list.” Pradhan fell ill later that month and couldn’t make it to DU.

Unyielding strangers

A random act of kindness is never lost. (Shutterstock)

73-year-old Ketki Khanna narrates an incident she says she won’t forget, ever. “While travelling by the metro once, I started to feel dizzy. Fearing that I might faint, I requested a young girl sitting to let me sit for a while. She looked at me as if she couldn’t hear me and then looked away. The funny thing is, a few other women sitting around heard me too but none of them got up to offer their seat.” This was about a year ago and Khanna has never taken the metro since then.

Rohan Sharma, a travel agent, did not have loose currency once. He had to pay a rickshaw-wallah. “There were 20 other rickshaws standing there but not one had loose cash. I checked with a few departmental stores around. All of them refused. After toiling for about half an hour, I finally gave the rickshaw-puller a 100 rupee note and left,” recounts Sharma.

The author tweets @sneha_bengani

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