Aunt Ushma Becomes Very Ill
Compassion and Sympathy
When I was a small child I had an aunt; she was my mother’s sister. She used to live with us and help my mother look after us children. She would wash us and rock us to sleep if we were unsettled. She was always available to help in any way and never asked for anything in return. She was one of the family, so she was treated as such and not as a servant. My mother used to say to us, "You must look after your Auntie Ushma as well as she looks after you!”
A time came when we did indeed have to carry out our mother’s wishes. Aunt Ushma became very ill. All she could do was to lie in bed and drink water and sometimes a little fruit juice. Every one was very worried about her. I used to like to go and visit her and stroke her hair as it lay on the pillow beside her. She would turn her head and smile a wan smile.
“Ah, Ramu,” she would say, “How nice it is to feel your cool hands on my forehead. No one has hands like yours. I am sure you will be a great healer one day.”
Well, I didn’t know what she was talking about. I just knew I wanted her to get well again quickly, so that we could enjoy our usual pursuits, our walks along the riverbank and playing hide-and-seek in the woods. She was ill for a long time it seemed to me. She grew so thin that her skin looked like paper drawn across the bones of her face. No one could help her. The priest visited her and so did the wise woman who sold the herbs in the market. The Guru who lived in the nearby mountain was summoned, but he refused to come. Instead he promised to pray for her each day until he had news of a change for the better. Aunt Ushma finally died after several months of illness. On her last day she asked to see the family all together. She addressed them saying:
“I am going home soon, do not weep for me. I will return as indeed we all do. I hope my next life will shine with a few more jewels than this one. However, in this life I have been blessed with a good number of jewels until recently. I would like to thank you, all of you, for your kindness to me during this tiresome illness. You could not have looked after me with more care or consideration than if I had been the goddess Shakti herself.” And with that she closed her eyes and fell asleep. She never uttered another word. She died during the night.
I always remembered what she said about my hands and if members of the family were ill, I made sure I was there to stroke their brows and hold their hands. They always appreciated it and in later years I indeed found that my healing gift was called upon by many.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- What kind of effect does an understanding smile have on you?
- Think of a time when you felt compassionate towards someone. How did you show it?
- When someone is unsympathetic towards you, how do you feel about him?
- A friend is looking for sympathy, but you think she is just being pathetic. How can you deal with it and show you are still a good friend?