I was born and raised in India. I grew up in a household that included my grandparents as well as my parents and my siblings. As a child I watched as members of my family looked out for and assisted one another, and in short time I learned to behave as they did.
Perhaps my upbringing explains why I did what I did in a grocery store in America, an ocean and many cultures removed from my own.
On a recent Sunday I found myself in the dairy section of a Trader Joe's store, pulling a gallon of milk off the shelf. Beside me an elderly woman seemed to peruse the milk cartons as if weighing a great decision. I continued my shopping.
A little while later I was surprised to see the same lady standing in the same place in front of the milk shelves. I think perhaps it is because of how I was raised that I felt a need to speak up. Do you need something from the top shelf, I asked the woman.
She smiled and alleviation spread across her face. Could you get that milk for me, she asked, raising a finger to guide my eyes to a specific carton. I reached for it and put the milk in her basket. She thanked me and said very sweetly, God bless you, child.
I understood in that minute that my simple act of kindness was important to me, because it helped someone and, above all, it put a grin on someone's face. My demonstration of consideration to her was in fact a generosity to myself. I felt happy receiving a blessing just by helping someone shop for groceries.
The assistance I lent took only moments out of my day. But the woman's blessing will stay with me forever.