Be it Diwali, Christmas, or Navratri, we need to abide by the laws about noise or loudspeakers put in place by governments and courts, but I do remember, this man…

He walked by the revellers at the local Navratri night. Walked straight to the makeshift temple with all eyes on him. Stiff and pious was his gait. He looked neither to the left or right, but craftily noticed all eyes on him as he walked to the temple entrance. There was a hush as he went in. People counted the moments. His worship was longer, his devotion stronger, they felt, than their own humble praise.

A friend of mine called me desperately, “You’ve got to help me, Bob!” he pleaded, “My wife has started becoming very cold to me. I suspect she is having an affair with her boss. He’s a very moneyed man, and I am sure he has won the affection of my partner!”

With a heavy heart I spoke to the wife, “Bob,” she said looking at me with tears in her eyes. “I don’t understand why he’s blaming me. For the last few years of our married life, he comes home from his job, ignores my greeting, shakes off my hug, stretches himself on the cot and gets up just before dinner, eats his food and goes to sleep. So, I decided I would stop trying to hug or greet him when he comes home!”

Even a small gesture impacts us, doesn't it?

African-American poet Countee Cullen spent the summer when he was eight in Baltimore, Maryland. Shortly after he arrived he noticed a little white boy staring at him. Countee smiled, but the little boy did not smile back. Instead, he stuck out his tongue and called him a “nigger.”

As years wore on, the little white child most likely forgot the gesture. He was never aware of the pain he inflicted on a little black eight-year-old boy. But the truth is---everything counts. Everything. Everything we do and everything we say. Everything helps or hurts; everything adds to or takes away from someone else.

Facing the unfamiliar is not something we love, especially being children of routine, but it could turn out fun, as mine did, a few years ago, when there was no lunch laid out for me that day:

It’s a habit of mine to leave my front door open, while I write in my study. The cook comes in everyday as she has been coming for the last fifteen years and she cooks a meal for me. When the children were at home, she cooked for all of us, but now it’s just for me, as my wife has her lunch between surgical cases at the hospital.

“Our greatest ability as humans is not to change the world, but change ourselves,” …… Mahatma Gandhi.

And as the nation went on a cleaning spree yesterday, with most everyone taking a broom and sweeping beaches, grounds, and everywhere where the lens of the camera could reach, I imagined I saw a small man with horn rimmed glasses, covered with just a khadi cloth, watching everybody, “Looks like a cleanliness drive on my birthday,” he said.