Sunday, 2 February 2014

Where are the other nine?

                                                 Phewa lake, Pokhara valley, Nepal

-Brian Mendonça

Gratitude was something we took as a matter of courtesy in the old days. Not anymore, it seems. Take for instance the little acts of kindness we come across as we live the day. The motorist up ahead may give way to let you overtake smoothly; someone may hold a parcel for you as you rummage through your purse; or a student may carry the LCD projector for you to class.

These are all acts of kindness we ought to be thankful for. Often we simply take it for granted.  The more things we take for granted the more cold and inhuman we become.  How many email forwards have we got which have brightened our lives, or have broadened our horizon? Yet simply because it is forwarded mail, you discount the effort, time and intention of the person who privileged you among all others, by sending it to you.

Nothing has changed much over two thousand years. When Jesus healed the ten lepers, it was reasonable for him to expect a word of thanks in return. He was human enough to make inquiries as well. Just one of the ten returned to thank him. The Gospel of Luke tells us that the man fell down on his face at his feet giving him thanks. (Luke 17: 16).

The gospel also alerts us that the man who gave thanks to Jesus was an outsider. So many times when we expect thanks from significant people in our lives, it doesn't come. It comes instead from a quarter we least expect, an unknown agent of God’s love. We may forget to give thanks but the person may bear a grudge against us for this – without us having a clue for his/her behavior!

Give thanks immediately, appropriately and sincerely. This morning I came upon three lads in the market. One had a blue guitar he was twirling around. They were tourists. I could not help myself asking the guitarist, ‘Can you play something for me?’ He was taken aback. The three became wary, while the cobbler at their side continued mending shoes. Then slowly, almost in a drawl, the one addressed spoke, ‘I don’t play.’ But he finally did, moving his fingers on the fret board like a reluctant lizard. In the light of Luke I was racking my brains as to how I could thank him for this experience.

They were from Nepal. When I said I had visited Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu their eyes lit up. A sprinkling of Pokhara and Pehwa, and they were eating out of my hand. But still.

‘I play the guitar too,’ I muttered, asking for the piece. But when I wielded it, it was untuned. How did it sound so good when Shailesh (the guitarist) had played it?!

Laughing, I handed the guitar back to them and left my visiting card. I wished them a pleasant stay. They told me they were going back to Delhi on the Goa Express at 3 p.m. Thank you Nepal!
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 1 December 2013; Pix courtesy fotocommunity(dot)com

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