Cancer and the dancer..!

VERY often I have people telling me of their problems. Most are genuine, some terrible and then I remember Tej. She was a dancer and one of the happiest people I’d ever met in my life.
There was not a moment when she was not spreading her infectious joy and cheerfulness to all of those around her and there were many of us around her who hung around for her chuckles and laughter she doled out in huge doses.
Tej had a mentally challenged sister at home, an ailing mother and a husband who had disappeared illegally to the States. Tej also had breast cancer. But there was not a happier person than Tej. I often wondered what the secret of Tej’s inner joy was. She was part of our little gang who went for a jog early in the morning. That day, which I remember so vividly Tej came carrying a thick, rich Kashmiri shawl, which was wrapped around her. We teased her about carrying a shawl for a run but she just smiled and wrapped it around herself even more tightly.
It was cold that morning and every once in a while, a chill breeze came in through the trees and made us shiver. And then we saw the old woman coming towards us. We passed her everyday: A tribal, she was obviously sent out by her family to gather twigs and sticks to start a fire for cooking the morning meal.
I remember she coughed a lot and someone in our group had warned us she most probably had TB. As usual we moved to the other side of the road, except Tej. Tej slowed down, walked up to the old shivering lady, took off her costly shawl and carefully wrapped it around her frail shoulders. Now we understood why she’d come with the shawl that morning. The old bent woman looked up at Tej with startled eyes that soon filled with tears. Tej held her as she sobbed with gratitude. There was not a dry eye amongst us that morning.
Tej had cancer. Tej had a mentally challenged sister. Tej had not seen her husband for years. Tej had compassion and Tej vibrated with happiness! She gave not only of her possessions as she wrapped the shawl around the old lady but gave off herself as she hugged the woman despite the dreaded disease.
Is there a lesson for all of us, burdened with sickness and trouble who walk with gloom written on our faces? Start looking around, like Tej did, and can you hear her laughter? Why, it could be coming from you as you help someone and chase your gloom away..!

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