ARK: Act of Random Kindness – Shefali (India)

Hey! It’s me, Shefali, writing my last blog as an International Student Ambassador. That’s right, part of the journey is the end!

So Shefali, what would you like your last blog as an ISA to be? Hmmm… how about life at UT and Tartu? Nah! The amazing adventures I’ve had so far? Nah! The long picturesque nights of Tartu? No, I want people to experience it… Corona? Absolutely not!

Hmmm, what would I like to share in my last blog post? Since I was still thinking about it, I decided to pause my writing and continued working on a project.

Later that night, while returning home, I came across this monument.

Photo credit: Shefali

I stopped and stared! It was different today – the wind howled loudly, and I could see the snowflakes dancing in the lamplight and rapidly covering everything that comes in its way. My black jacket was turning to white. Whenever I see this monument, I remember a friend who left Tartu a few years ago. He told me, “a legend goes you must look at a very certain angle, or just be drunk to see Lotman’s face.” Sadly, neither worked for him! Caught up in that magical moment, I finally realized what I wanted to write about… Kindness!

I don’t remember when was the first time I understood the meaning of kindness, but I know that it exists, and I can see it everywhere. Be it small actions like a mother picking up her child when he/she falls or a teacher coming up with different ways to make learning fun for the students. Recently, I saw kindness in the form of Markus and Liis!

February 23, I cannot forget this day because it was nothing less than an adventure. Due to glazed ice, it was slippery that day. I was on my way back home and took the usual route. I did not entirely know how bad the conditions were till I was on a slope near the river. That slope wasn’t even long enough, and it hardly takes a few seconds to cross it. I was halfway through that slope and decided to turn back and take the longer and hopefully safer route. I mean, c’mon, what if I slip into the river?

I was walking like a penguin that day, trying my best not to slip, but Murphy’s law decided otherwise! I slipped! I slipped again when trying to get back up, and I was laughing at myself! Well, whoever dared to walk that day was laughing at each other because we all were United by Slippery Roads. I was about to reach my place when I saw Liis – an old lady appearing to be in her 70s. She was walking extremely near a building and clinging to the windowsills for support. Her eyes were gleaming in the light, searching for a way to reach home. Seeing her struggle, I went up to her and offered her my hand for support. She said something in Estonian/Russian (yes, I get confused between the two) that I could not understand. But I could make out from her gestures that she said it’s slippery today! She held my hand, and we were walking very slowly and cautiously! She told me that she lives in that direction. We were almost halfway through when I saw that the way downhill was quite risky. I was thinking about how to communicate with her and tell her that we need to take another route. So, I tried to explain it to her with gestures, but I was unsuccessful.

Photo credit: Matthew Henry on Unsplash

While I was thinking of other options, I saw Markus – a guy in his late 20s walking his dog. I believe that each person comes into your life for a purpose; once the purpose is fulfilled, they leave, or we leave. Well, I saw that person that day! 

As soon as we saw each other, we spoke at the same time:

Him: Do you need help?
Me: Do you understand English? (Of course, he does!)

He came up to us and talked to the old lady, and then the plan was that we both would hold her hand and drop her at her place. However, nothing goes as planned! The dog decided to bark! Well, I don’t blame the dog – we interrupted his plans. He wanted to enjoy the walk with his only friend.

The guy told me that he lives nearby and will drop him and come back again. Sorry doggy – I know I ruined your plans! 

While we were waiting for Markus, Liis was continuously talking in her language, and I couldn’t understand most of it, and I was talking in English, and she couldn’t understand most of it either. Kindness has no barriers, indeed! Suddenly, she says, “Thank you”. Since I didn’t know whether she was an Estonian/Russian speaker, I replied in both! I’m sure, though, Khorosho doesn’t mean “you’re welcome”! So she started laughing!

Soon a car stopped near us; it was Markus! We helped Liis get in the car, and then she said something that I couldn’t understand once again. Luckily, this time Markus translated for me, “She is asking whether you need a lift – I can drop you as well.” Since I lived nearby, I did not need a lift, and since Markus will be dropping Liis at her home, it was time for goodbyes. I thanked Markus and waved at Liis. 

I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t met Liis that night or Markus had not crossed our path. I’m glad we all met each other! That day I saw kindness in all forms – from Liis saying “Thank you”, to Markus helping us out and dropping Liis home, and most importantly, the dog sacrificing his time with his only friend for the greater good. 

Whenever I see a guy walking his dog or an old lady walking near my place, I always hope it’s them.

The past year hasn’t been easy for many of us. We all must have faced different kinds of problems in one form or another. Some must have lost their dear ones; some never got a chance to say goodbye, some are grieving in silence while some are struggling to keep up with their daily lives. So, my dear readers, I would like to share this message.

Photo credit: Shefali

If you see someone struggling, please help them out. Be kind! Kindness also includes being kind to yourself. If you are struggling, talk to your close ones; reach out for help. The world is full of kind people. If you can be anything, be kind – to others and to yourself!