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The power of goodness

Updated on June 14, 2012

A true story

We’ve all faced trials and tribulations. We’ve all had difficult days and we’ve all had those moments when we pray that time passes fast taking whatever hardships we’re facing with it. It seems that the driving force behind every hardship is humans. We are all, in some way or another, directly or indirectly responsible for one another’s happiness, anger and distress. I find that in most cases, distress can be avoided if we all focus on being the best individual we can be.

I always think of my mother when I tell people to be good to one another—no matter how bad someone has been to you. My mom grew up in Kuwait where she met my dad. Within a few years, they married—she was 19 and he was 29. A year later, they moved to India where my mom lived with her mother-in-law, who took advantage of my mom’s gullible nature and kindness at every opportunity.

My grandmother controlled the money in the house (what little my dad earned at the time). This posed a problem for my mom when she learned she was expecting with me because she desperately wanted to buy me a comfortable crib, but my grandmother never allowed her to have any money and told her to save up for it herself. My mom came from a poor family and her father couldn’t afford to send all eight of her siblings to school, so he had chosen to educate only a few—my mother wasn’t one of them. This limited my mom’s ability to find a job, but she was determined to make sure I had a comfortable place to sleep. Soon after she found out she was expecting, she took on a job as a cleaning lady and worked throughout her pregnancy until she was almost eight months pregnant. Since mops were not common back then, she would go door to door and scrub floors with nothing but a cloth and her bare hands.

During her eight-month appointment, the doctor ordered her to be on full bed rest because she’d started to swell to a level that she was told could fatally affect me (I believe she had severe preeclampsia). Fatigued and scared, my mom returned home from the doctor’s office that day and decided that she would, with the money she had saved from cleaning homes over the past several months, ask my dad to go out and buy my crib. She wanted to do this soon since the doctor had also mentioned that if her swelling continued, they would have to induce her to avoid adverse risks to me—which meant I could come at any time. However, when she went to look for her glass piggy bank, she found it in shards—the money was gone. Tearful and panicked, she asked my grandmother if she knew where the money was since my grandmother had knowledge of the piggy bank. My grandmother nodded and led her to a room where a beautiful saree lay on a bed. “I bought this for myself with it,” she said.

My mother was completely crushed. Somehow, she got through that and so many more torturous times. She always says that prayer had given her strength and that God always seemed to carry her through the most agonizing moments.

As I grew older, I saw firsthand how much my mom suffered in her relationship with my dad. He constantly fought with and belittled her. He took advantage of her low self confidence (which she suffered from because he was educated and she wasn’t) and did so much to shatter her soul. I have memories of these painful times since the age of six, yet the images of those horrid days are clear in my mind even today.

Through it all, my mom continued her prayers. She was uneducated and knew very little, if any, English when my father brought her to the U.S. But she was gorgeous and had a charming personality that was transparent even through what little communication she managed. She met people in the most random places—some bumped into her at the grocery store, some were neighbors and others she’d meet at the local park. Though they came to her in the guise of humans, I believe they were God’s angels, there to sprinkle her life with happiness and hope.

Through her determination to communicate with these angels, who were now her only relief from the stresses of everyday life, my mom mastered English. Not only that, but within a few years, she’d gained the confidence to pursue and complete her GED. Her faith in herself soared and she took yet another step toward achieving her lifelong dream—opening a salon. Within a few more years, her dream became a reality. She’d done it all by herself: this lady who had once identified her worth by the fact that she’d never attended high school had opened her own salon in a country where she’d only in her wildest dreams fantasized of living.

Even today, so many decades later, I see my mom struggle emotionally in her relationship with my dad, but I also see the angels that continue to drift her way during her most trying times. I see strangers who do little things to help her without realizing what a big difference their small gestures make in the overall picture. Her friends love her and admire her so much, and everywhere she goes, whether it be church or the park, she comes home telling me about a new friend.

Even my husband says he’s never met anyone who has so much luck with everything. Anything she desires is always in front of her, wherever she goes, good fortune follows, and whoever she meets instantly showers her with love.

Today, twenty years later, the very person who treated her with malice and scorn is the very person my mom supports and cares for wholeheartedly—my paternal grandmother. My mom cooks for her every day, drives her to church and takes her shopping for whatever her heart desires. My grandmother is very ashamed of her past actions and she’s apologized multiple times to my mother in front of me (which is how I came to learn about their story). In fact, my grandmother tells my mother that though she would be able to live without her own son (my father), she would rather die than live without my mom.

How did my mom endure it all? I don’t know. How did she forgive so willingly? I have no idea. However, I do know that prayer has helped her along her journey. And though her soul is battered and bruised, her spirit is strong and proud.

So what I’d like to share with those of you who have or are suffering through difficult times is to never give up your goodness. Don’t succumb to the temptation of becoming a bitter and angry person. Continue smiling and loving, because it’s through those smiles and that love that you will gain the respect of those around you and be able to face any adversity with courage. It’s through your own goodness that you will feel good about yourself and through that happiness that your soul will find the strength to heal its many wounds. My mom always says, “Goodness never goes anywhere…it always comes back to you.” And with her, I see the proof.


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