The grumpy spinster and the dancing homeless man

This story appeared in the Indian newspaper ‘The Hindu’ around the year 2000. It was written by Sudha Narayana Murthy, the wife of the famous Infosys founder Narayana Murthy. It goes like this.

Sudha had a spinster friend Kamala (not her real name). Kamala was always complaining about something or other whenever she met her friends. This was so irritating to her friends that when they spotted her at a distance, they tried to take a detour to avoid listening to her grumpy talk. Sudha lost contact with Kamala for a long time and one day met her at an airport unexpectedly. Kamala saw her and came promptly to meet her. Sudha prepared herself for the stream of complaints.

To her surprise, Kamala did not complain about anything, but talked like a happy person! Sudha could not believe that Kamala changed dramatically.  In view of their long standing friendship, she asked Kamala straightaway, why she was not complaining about anything whereas she was always complaining whenever they met in the past. She asked what changed her attitude so radically.

Kamala replied that her experience on one rainy day changed her attitude. She described it in detail.

Kamala was living alone in a big house surrounded by a boundary wall. A homeless old man was living with his granddaughter, under a plastic sheet tied to the top of the wall, as their only shelter. They were begging for food in the neighborhood and lived on the offered food. Every day, Kamala had some food left over in her kitchen. She carried it outside the boundary wall and offered it to the old man and his granddaughter. She had the satisfaction of feeding them some food every day.

One day, after her lunch, she put the left over food in a container and was about to go out, to offer to the old man and his granddaughter. She saw that it was raining. She was not inclined to walk out, carrying an umbrella in one hand and the food in other hand. But a part of her mind was tugging at her heart, concerned that the old man and his granddaughter might be getting wet under the plastic sheet and also feeling hungry, not getting her usual daily donation of food. They might even be expecting it and cursing her silently. She watched out with concern through the window from the second floor of her house.

To her utter amazement, she saw them holding each other’s hands and whirling round in the rain, laughing and singing a rain song!

The scene shook her, to her core. She felt ashamed of herself for complaining all the time, for something or other. Right at that moment, her attitude changed dramatically. She reflected on how many things she was blessed with – food, shelter and money and was still complaining whereas the homeless old man and his grand daughter had nothing but still were laughing and dancing in the rain, with hungry stomachs! From that day, she totally stopped complaining.

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