When strangers came together for a grieving family

Compassion is an important emotion. Compassion for our fellow humans is at times what brings us together. People identify with the pain and sorrow of others and go out of their way to be there for them. While friends and family do these the most, it is the compassion of strangers that touches us the most. These are people who we don’t know, and who could mind their own life, but make a choice to do something for us.

One of my most memorable incidents is something that happened on Reddit last year. Nathan Steffel made a Photoshop Request at the Pics subreddit, regarding his daughter. Nathan’s daughter Sophia had passed away at the age of six weeks, suffering from complications in her liver. Since she had been in the hospital her entire life, the only pictures her family had had of hers were with her medical tubes. Nathan simply requested if someone could give his family a picture of Sophia, by digitally removing (or Photoshopping as it is known) the tubes from the picture.

The picture shared by Nathan Steffel

 

It is one of those rare moments where people felt his pain, and sent him photoshopped pictures and drawings of Sophia without the medical tubes and other equipment. Here are some of them (click on them to take you to the source):

 

by Reddit user /u/funkybrewster

 

by Reddit user /u/ChangingYang

 

by Reddit user /u/jloooong
by Reddit user /u/izzyzzi
by Reddit user /u/Markaes4

It was later revealed on Buzzfeed that he and his wife knew of their daughter’s condition from an ultrasound, but didn’t know the extent of it. Sophia was on the waiting list for a new liver but passed away due to complications. The pictures of Sophia show how many lives she has touched, and how some of these people cared enough for her family. This is why it is one my most memorable acts of compassion, when strangers who haven’t even met this person, or know him, pulled out all stops to give his family some peace.

 

Written for #1000speak, where bloggers all over the world wrote together about compassion and what it means to them.

1000voicesspeak

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Dear Bindu kun & Pixie

Dear Bindu kun,

I wrote a letter to you some time ago, because I had a brand new fountain pen and ink flowed from it so smoothly that I couldn’t help but write. Now that I am doing this blog challenge, I cannot help but write this as well.

We met as fellow members of a book group which I was inducted in to by my lovely sister after I had sent her a book. There are so many ways it could have not happened. It could have been a different book, or sent a different time, or perhaps she could have graduated to a Kindle sooner, or might have missed out her morning tea that day, but certain set of events took place in the right order, with the right people for me to have found you.

I have said this before, and I will say it again that I am in awe of you. How you are able to manage work, a family, consuming books with that voracious appetite of yours, and cook is beyond me at times. Particularly when I struggle with something like making Maggi on certain work days. While we are on the topic of food, the pictures of your weekend kitchen are just not fair. Nuh uh. How do you expect us to sit on this side of the screen, and look at all the delicious cakes you bake, and stews you simmer? The only silver lining is that we don’t have it as tough as your immediate neighbors who even have to manage with sounds and aroma of the food being prepared. Well boo-hooo for them.

Do you know that you’re the person who’ sent me the most number of books? I liked the irony of you having sent American Gods and Religion for Atheists together 😛 . Oh and the cake and cookies you sent around new year’s were absolutely yum. One of the few rare moments that my friends or colleagues were explicitly forbidden (and I saw to it) from having even a single bite of the load. I had it all for myself. My precious.

When we do meet, I am looking forward to your cooking the most. I want to take in the sights and sounds of you getting about to making food. I have always believed that cooking for someone, is converting your thoughts and feelings for them into something physical, and then sharing it with them. I am sure I would end up licking something shamelessly 😀

Thank you for the food, the books, and the friendship.
Love,

Count Santulan

 

 

Dear Pixie,

For someone who got so involved in naming a rat snake that liked to say hi to the sister of mine, you don’t like the crawlies so much. But they’re so cute, no? Scuttling towards you just to say hi or hug you 😛 . Ok, I will digress from this topic lest you get tempted to want to punch me. Not that you don’t have reasons already 😀

Someday, when I have saved enough money to, I would like to make a trip to your place. I would like to sleep in at your place at least once, so that I can wake up early and kick you awake, or just yank off the covers if I am feeling kind. On second thoughts, I might prod you with a stick instead so that you didn’t kick me when I do wake you up. Or we can let you sleep in peace if you’re willing to bribe me by making Akki roti and hot rasam. Yeah, that should work out real well 😀

You’re another person who’s like family but we haven’t met in the flesh yet. Had we been in the same city, I would be eating a number of meals at your place. Or call in with ice cream at impromptu times, because ice cream.  Then you would tell me off on how so much ice cream is not good for me, and would end up eating half of it so that I don’t have to eat all of it. Such a generous soul you are 😛

But seriously, you’re the person who genuinely cares about people in your life in a manner that is not over bearing, and makes one feel warm from the inside. When you do get here, I can dump a bunch of books at your place for you to read. Personal recommendations from my personal collection, that I think you’d like to read.

Thank you for sending me pictures of the creepy crawlies that you meet on your walks (and in turn creeping out your husband in the process). I promise to treat you to puffs and patisseries when we meet.

Love,

Hrishi

 

 

Written for the 30 Days 30 Letters prompt: A letter to someone you wish you could meet. Other bloggers can add their links to the linky below:


 

The reaction to a face

As Jim Morrison once crooned, people are strange. There have been times when I have found it easier to understand Thermodynamics (and I had failed it in my first attempt), but have not been able to understand people, and how or why they could do what they did.

I remember one of my job interviews in which I was asked which according to me would be my most important resource at work. I took a moment to think and said that people would be my most important resource. When asked to explain why I thought so, I said that I could be face with a simple task but if my team mates didn’t come through, it would be extremely difficult and frustrating. On the other hand, if I had an extremely difficult task, the struggle and pain would be reduced on account of the help and guidance from the team. My opinion on this still holds true, however I have experienced more of the former scenario than the latter.

As much as people’s motives are interesting to think about and understand, it is their faces that sometimes give things away. You can mask your motives and thoughts and once can’t ‘read your mind’, but can observe/notice your face and its expressions. One passage from Fountainhead gets it right. It is a conversation between Ellsworth Toohey and Kiki Halcombe, when Kiki has a party at her home.

“There’s nothing as significant as a human face. Nor as eloquent. We can never really know another person, except by our first glance at him. Because, in that glance, we know everything. Even though we’re not always wise enough to unravel the knowledge. Have you ever thought about the style of a soul, Kiki?”
“The … what?”
“The style of the soul. Do you remember the famous philosopher who spoke of the style of a civilization? He called it ‘style.’ He said it was the nearest word he could find for it. He said that every civilization has its one basic principle, one single, supreme, determining conception, and every endeavor of men within that civilization is true, unconsciously and irrevocably, to that one principle…. I think, Kiki, that every human soul has a style of its own, also. Its one basic theme. You’ll see it reflected in every thought, every act, every wish of that person. The one absolute, the one imperative in that living creature. Years of studying a man won’t show it to you. His face will. You’d have to write volumes to describe a person. Think of his face. You need nothing else.”
“That sounds fantastic, Ellsworth. And unfair, if true. It would leave people naked before you.”
“It’s worse than that. It also leaves you naked before them. You betray yourself by the manner in which you react to a certain face.”

Before reading this book, I had seen a video of Marina Abramović and Ulay. Marina and Ulay are performance artists who had been in a relationship before calling it off. Later when the relationship became too tense to continue, they took a journey to the Great Wall of China in 1988. They decided that both of them would start from the opposite ends, and would meet at the midway. It was there they would bid goodbye after having walked about 2500 Kms.

Marina put up a performance titled ‘The artist is present’ in 2010, where she would spend one moment with the people who would walk in. She would close her eyes, and wait for the person to take their seat across the table and then open her eyes and share a moment of silence with them. This is a video of the reaction she had when Ulay happened to sit across the table, and she opened her eyes.

 

Written for the Write Tribe Festival of Words -2, Day 6 Prompt: People