That a smile is the most beautiful attire, the most charming accessory and the most memorable emotion is nothing new. But when it becomes a toothless one, it attains a whole new dimension. And you cannot help marvelling at how one twitch makes the world beautiful. Irrespective of where you are.
One of my weaknesses is that I get moved and feel that things are unfair for some people. I don’t feel sympathy as such but a fleeting anger and urge to make everything fair. Somewhere I know that I am wrong because they are probably not as sad as I think they are. When I find a little boy polishing shoes, I get very disturbed. It bothers me to no limits that he is unable to attend school and unable to take a nap. But somewhere deep down I do realize that sometimes he maybe happy with what he is doing. He may probably be attending night school. He probably has a nap on some days. Or he probably hates naps. And things may not be as bad as I think them to be. Yet something is amiss and I feel a vacuum. K always stops me from feeling this way saying that I probably do not have the entire picture to form an emotion yet.
The eldercare where K and I volunteer makes me realize this time and again. When I look at so many toothless smiles as we enter, some waving and some teasing us, while some don’t seem to remember us at all and yet smile unconditionally at us, I feel overwhelmed. I forget to look at that wheelchair or the nasogastric tube or the fact that all that the person can eat is bland porridge. Because somewhere I feel they have learnt to let go and be happy. Who am I to measure anything against a yardstick so subjective?
Everytime they look forward to volunteer visits and the activities planned and participate inspite of vacillating health conditions, I feel small. Did I not complain about my flu last week and how I couldn’t smell the rasam?
This time for Chinese New Year, along with a group, I was responsible for the decorations for the home. The mission was to get the eldercare look beautiful and make their wheelchairs and other aids look pretty as much as we can. So, our group was to facilitate making of simple decorations that suggest the beginning of a Chinese New Year. Gold fish, a red lantern, a ladybird, a kite (this was for fun) and other little things.
Pinterest and some Sunday time was enough to do this. Almost no effort right? But you should have seen the happy faces.
When I saw them smile, I felt as though everything was right with the world.
When I saw them help each other and make fun of each other, I realized how foolish I had been to feel that they missed their families all the time.
When I saw an elderly lady’s family members rejoice from far, I realized yet again that somewhere along, things change but love doesn’t end. And everyone has a reason.
When I saw some saying they cannot do it since they are too old for such activities, I saw the others push them along.
When I saw some not so enthusiastic about the activities, I saw that time changed it. As they watched others indulge themselves, they slowly but surely joined in.
95% of them spoke a language I did not know. But we lasted a couple of hours together. And what a hit it was! I held their fragile hands, I learnt a trick and most importantly, I saw them all smile.
I am writing this not to emphasize volunteering. Neither am I writing this to drive any point of an eldercare or similar setup. I am writing this because everytime I see a toothless smile on a wrinkled face, I feel reassured. I feel as though God is saying that everything is fine and will be fine. That I need to wait and not make any judgements. That I need to only be happy within and not let the external forces overwhelm me. That I don’t need to get teary-eyed only because I am presuming something. That happiness is all that matters. And you don’t need to strive too hard for it.
And that a smile rings in a new hope and a new year, every passing day.
P.S. Sorry, I cannot show the smiles. Just doesn’t seem right to post full photos.