KINDNESS

Kindness, like a sudden gust of wind, will sweep across your face, taking your breath away, just at that moment when you least expect it. But then, as sure as the sun rises each day, so too will kindness graciously shower you with affection for the rest of your life.
I will never forget that time when I was travelling in a rickety bright yellow bus through the countryside of Rajasthan in India. My partner, Rupp, and I were sitting in the first row and I was looking out those huge windows at the front – decorated in pink, blue and yellow streamers, and orange flowers. I had raced into the bus to get that best seat and I was excited and eager to get on the way. But now, as our bus sped along the bumpy and curvy roads of India, its roar cruelly shattering the stillness of the countryside, I was petrified. Our maniac driver was overtaking all sorts of other vehicles on the most dangerous of places – corners, uphill, downhill and on the narrowest of lanes. While passing through small villages on the way, he constantly had to swerve to miss pedestrians and animals – big and small and I thought we were going to tip over as we slid along sand swept parts of the road. At times I felt as if I was in an action packed car chase in a Jason Bourne film (for many probably a thrill, for me a disaster). My partner, Rupp, wasn’t able to comfort me or assure me that everything would be all right because he wasn’t feeling well after he had hurt his head in a rickshaw accident on the way to the bus depot. In the dim and misty hours of that morning, the driver of the rickshaw had been driving so fast that he failed to see the hole in the road. We crashed into it, a wheel spun off the rickshaw and Rupp bumped his head on the metal bar above (we had to walk the rest of the way to the bus station). Now a sticky substance was oozing out of his head and I was worried.
To add to my misery, I had to endure the loud, nasally, high pitched whining Indian music that was droning out of the speakers just centimeters away from my sensitive ears.
But, the worst was still to come. I needed to go to the toilet! There was no toilet on the bus and I had no idea just how far we were to travel before our first stop. And then, what was I to do there? Would there be a place where I could go? What did the other passengers do? What was normal? I was worried. I looked around on the bus but no one else seemed concerned about anything. Half the passengers were sleeping or nodding off, their heads jerkily bobbing to and fro and back and forth. Others, lost in thought or daydream, were looking out of their side windows or staring out of those grand windows at the front of the bus. No one noticed me. I was small, had short cropped hair, was dressed in jeans, baggy t-shirt and a denim jacket, void of make-up. Not very feminine when you consider the Indian ladies, alluring in their brightly colored saris, the tight fitting silk tops enhancing their womanliness; their thick, dark wavy hair, elaborately plaited and their eyes, ebony, like the bewilderment of the night – sensual and mysterious; their delicate facial features expressing warmth, but so too, secrecy; and of course, their abundance of jewelry, jingling and jangling with their every slightest of movement.
Finally our bus halted. We were in a small village in the middle of a dry barren landscape. There was hardly a market place there, yet, this tiny town was bustling with life. Then to my sheer surprise, I noticed a public toilet. I just couldn’t believe my luck. I left Rupp to rest on the bus and I hastened to the toilet. There was a bit of an upheaval at first. As I was just about to enter the ladies, three or four men started hollering at me, frantically flapping their arms around indicating that I shouldn’t go in. They then directed me to the other side of the toilet block to the men’s section! Now it was my turn to start waving and shouting, and in panic, as best I could, I let them know I wasn’t a young Indian boy, but indeed a very slim mature woman under a baggy t-shirt. I entered the women’s and I exited the women’s, almost instantly. No! This wasn’t the right toilet for me, which took me back to the problem I had had on the bus many hours ago. What was I to do now? There were no bushes! The houses were too far away! What did the others do? Then I saw two Indian ladies. Like two Goddesses. They were squatting – elegantly, gazing – serenely across the harsh terrain, far yonder where the sun peacefully settles at the close of each day.
Something stirred inside of me as I pictured the innocence and grace of that scene and I admired these women. Peeing in public was something that I could just not make myself do, no matter how much I tried, no matter how elegant, no matter how baggy my t-shirt. So, I was standing there, desperate. I had to go somewhere. If I didn’t I would surely wet my pants (how embarrassing, happened at school once) and then, kindness, at the height of my anxiety paid me a call. From out of nowhere, about six Indian ladies from the bus, approached me and circled me. No words spoken. They turned their backs on me, held out their saris, building a striking satiny wall around me and signaled me to do my thing. I felt a bit stupid, having to have caused so much fuss, but I was so relieved! I was happy! And I was so touched! I thanked them profusely and they simply beamed their beautiful smiles at me.
We resumed our seats on the bus and though we spoke no words, I felt good and light, and I felt safe and secure. I no longer worried about accidents, about Rupp’s injury, about the music, about toilets. I knew they cared.

KINDNESS

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Artist's Description

Some things of the past grow faded with time, while other memories remain vivid.

Artwork Comments

  • David Rozario
  • RuthFroehlinger
  • linaji
  • linaji
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  • LindaR
  • RuthFroehlinger
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