"Kharab Jhale, didi. These lemons you brought yesterday are not good" she said. "The rest of the bhaji is good. Why did you pick these up?" asked my domestic help, as she examined the week's supply of the vegetables I had brought home. Not in the mood for a cross examination regarding any lemons, I tried to brush her off with a comment about them being okay and just to use them.
"It has to be okay when we do it" she said. Startled to hear what seemed a bit like an accusation, I looked at her enquiringly. " Yesterday my son asked me who would be punishing me", she continued in a seemingly random fashion. Resigning myself to her obvious need for conversation, I obligingly asked her why her son, age 9, wanted her punished. " The other day I had given him Rs.10 for a hair cut and he lost it. I was very angry with him and shouted at him for his carelessness" she answered. As I began convincing her that she had done the right thing by chastising him, she continued, "Last evening I lost almost my entire month's wages, because I stuffed the money into my purse in a hurry. All the money fell out on my way home. I did look for it again by retracing my path again, but it was gone. When I mentioned this to my son, he reminded me that I had scolded him for losing Rs.10 and asked me who would scold me now! That is why I said that it has to be okay when we do it. When someone else does the same thing, we get upset and tell them all about why they are wrong and how they can make amends. I am sure they feel as bad when they make a mistake, as we do about our mistake", she concluded.
Recalling the number of times I have picked holes in my husband's shopping efforts ( he generally brings home what the grocer gives him, instead of picking and choosing), I must say that she was right. This does not mean that I will become saintly from now on and never get upset with other's mistakes. I am certain that the young hero of this episode will continue receiving chastisement from his mom. Yet, he got us all to examine our actions at least fleetingly.
The lemons may not have been good, but the lesson was!