Little acts of kindness

At my local park, I sometimes see two young women (sisters, I assume), taking their elderly grandfather for a walk. The gentleman is very unsteady on his feet so the two women have to grip his arms to support him. Also, he cannot walk fast, so this little group’s progress is very slow. But I’ve never seen or heard the two young women complain. Instead, they go silently round and round the park, patiently leading their grandfather. And after about half an hour or so of this, the three of them head out of the park and make their way back home.

I don’t know who these young women are, but they obviously live close to the park because their grandfather really cannot walk long distances. I have always wanted to speak with them, but I never do. Because it feels like intruding into a private moment. But I like them all the more for what they do for their grandfather, every evening.

Can you give up something for a stranger?

Of course, you’ll argue that we all do these little acts of kindness and of love, for loved ones every day and in myriad ways. But would you part with something you cherish, for someone you don’t know, have never met and never, ever, will? Preethi Ramesh did.

Preethi is a good friend, a mom of two and the proud owner of Rapunzel-like locks. Her most identifiable feature was her lustrous and thick black hair that fell well below her knees. Preethi would normally plait her hair or twist it into a heavy knot. And each time she let down her hair (literally!), she would be inundated by compliments and casual questions from the frankly curious– “Isn’t it tough to care for such long hair?” and “Wow, is this real?” to the eternal question, “What oil do you use”?

A couple of weeks ago, she cut off 14 inches of that long, beautiful hair. She did so to aid cancer survivors. Her hair will now be used to make wigs for women (and men, perhaps) who have undergone chemotherapy.

That for me, is a truly big deal.

Because, so much of our self-confidence, our self-worth, and even, self image is locked up in our tresses. Hair fall, hair loss, greying, any kind of balding, sends us into panic mode, into depression, into consulting endocrinologists and trichologists and dermatologists. So to have lovely hair that glows with health is, let’s face it, a matter of immense pride. I have always had long hair and I have never wanted to cut it. Never. Till I heard about an organisation that uses our hair to make wigs for cancer survivors. That was something I really believed in,” says Preethi. She has since posted the hair to a charitable trust in Haripad, a town in Kerala, where the wigs will be made.

Of course, because Preethi’s hair was so long and thick to begin with, chopping off 14 inches has not made much of a difference. But her little act of kindness has made her more beautiful. And it will soon make somebody else, living somewhere else, feel beautiful.


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