Learning to accept..!

Bob,” he said to me, “I’ve got something for you.” He held out a packet. I opened it; inside were a pair of old shoes. “Mine,” he said, “they don’t fit me, but they’re your size, you can have them!” His name was Lawrence. He had been an alcoholic.
I had first seen him as a watchman at an orphanage, a good man but addicted to the bottle. I had helped him kick the habit, seen him get married to pretty Sushma and lent a hand in setting up their house for them with little things here and there. I looked at the shoes he gave me. My first impulse was to return them. They were old and worn out, then I looked at him and smiled. I pulled out my shoes and put on the faded pair. “Thank you,” I said. “Thanks,” he said. “Thanks?” I asked. “Yes,” he said, “I was afraid you wouldn’t take them. You know you give me so many things, but this I wanted you to have.”
That day I learned the meaning of accepting. I realised we are all so good at giving, but how good are we at accepting things? I wore those shoes everyday till they fell apart. I used to see him look at my feet and knew he felt good. It made him feel okay with all he had to accept because of his need. Some time later a young lad named John started working for me. He lived in a transit camp with his mother and brothers. He was honest, good, but his job required him to dress well. He wore old torn shirts and frayed trousers.
“John,” I told him one day, “I’ve got some good shirts I don’t use, can I pass them on to you?” He nodded albeit a little worried. I brought him three of my hardly used designer shirts. John did not turn up for work the next day, though I found a parcel lying at my home when I returned.
“Someone named John returned it,” said my maid, “said his mother was furious you thought he was so poor. Told him to stop working for you.” After the dreadful tsunami some years ago I heard how our proud Prime Minister refused aid from other countries and I thought of John and the shirts, and the pair of old shoes Lawrence gave me.
I thought of the poor devastated people hit by the awful waves who had lost home and family, livelihood and even the will to live. I saw pictures of them running behind trucks arms outstretched begging for food, and I could only scream inside at the silly pride of my country and countrymen.
I saw John the other day, pathetically thin, wearing a shirt worse than what he wore those days. He was crossing the road with a wife by his side and a kid on his arm. They all looked gaunt and half starved. The baby was crying…. Sometimes we need to learn to take..!

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