Some images of joy stay in your memory forever. I wonder what is so different about these faces? How is their joy so clearly different from others when we all smile. Wonder what brings that depth and memorability to that joy? Why is it that kids can be more purely joyous than adults? Once such image of joy has stayed with me – in a very powerful way. It went beyond creating a deep impression and became a strong unintended lesson I will never forget.
While growing up we had all kind of families and kids around us. Families where kids were treated like they were pampered, families where kids were overly protected, kids who were considered geniuses in making and everything in the middle. Amongst this was a family with three sons. The eldest son, then probably around fifteen was an average fun loving and easy going kid, the youngest was the naughty type with a twinkle in his eyes and the middle one – well he appeared to have a learning disability along with weak communication and relating skills.
The middle kid (lets call him Nikku) was either stuck between the two brothers or being marginalized for his lack of skills. These kids were a few years younger than me and my sister and so we always ended up looking out for them. Whenever we all interacted it felt very odd even as a young kid how Nikku was treated. Something did not seem right, it felt like even his parents convienently accepted or resigned to how he was. Even then I always felt that he was better than he was given credit for but I just did not know what to do or say in such situation. I almost carried the guilt of not being able to do anything until one day a few years later.
By now my sister had gotten married, and gone to her in-laws. After some period of time she came back to visit for a few days. We were all looking forward to her visit but it seems like we were not the only ones who were excited. Nikku, had come to know that shew was coming and was extremely excited. As soon as she came home, he came over without waiting or asking. He was so excited and he came and sat with her and started talking to her. I was amazed and surprised at the outpouring of affection from his side. Amazed that it went unnoticed and surprised that this attachment got developed.
Amazed, I just sat there and noticed their interaction. I wanted to observe every little expression, I want to see what it was that my sister did that created that bond. As I started observing I noticed the beauty of this bond was in its simplicity. She simply accepted him as he was. She let him be him, regardless of the world thought or regardless of his clumsy ways, she kept smiling and kept listening to him. He asked questions which may have sounded silly, but she gave simple straight answers and kept his conversation going.
Just observing the depth of joy Nikku had. Joy that was genuine, deep, and all pervasive and created by acceptance of him as a person taught me a valuable lesson. A lesson that how we interact with people can transform their lives. What we think is a trivial conversation can make someone feel like a king. What we feel like is pointless can be very touching to someone. And above all a simple lesson that complete acceptance of person can create amazing joy. How simple. What else can one ask.