Today, she decided to make blueberry scones. It was nearly Autumn, and the air was crisp. “It’s scones weather!” she exclaimed, as she pressed the blueberries into the dough, loving how they bled into the white butter-egg-flour mixture.
The scones had to be perfect. Not because she took absolute pride in her baking, but also because she had to raise funds for the Shishu Seva Association.
As the blueberries simmered, and the knife sliced into the butter, she reviewed her checklist of tasks to finish. Once, she was done baking and delivering the cookies, she would clean her house, go visit her sick friend with a batch of homemade chicken soup, and then, call her mother. New in this area, she was glad she had made some friends. She always tried to find a way to involve herself in the community, even though she moved around a lot.
This was partly because she understood what kindness meant. And no, it wasn’t the volunteering-everywhere sort of kindness, but the intrinsic kind, like drowning in a long story in a group conversation. Knowing what the flipside looked like, a random act of kindness like, that Aunty offering you water in the metro pulled you out of the long sleepless nights when the sadness won’t go away.
Always good with tools, she was called regularly, during those hostel days to hammer the nails into the wall or fix a broken window singing, “I will try to fix you,” to the nails. Carrying a toolkit in her van was a habit, now. That was probably why her favourite word was ‘kindness.’ Someone once told her she was kindness in human form.
Her van pulled up in front of the first customer’s house. He was a regular customer who lived alone. She wondered if he ate her cookies alone in front of the television, and if there was a word for that experience. “It’s funny how we name feelings,” she thought. “Kindness being the word we use to describe sending someone flowers on their birthdays or putting a dying animal to sleep,” she could be so many other things, but she was associated with kindness.
Ringing the bell, she pulled on her gloves. But of course, she couldn’t handle scones without her gloves. The customer opened his door, smiling at her; the kind of smile on a face that, hadn’t smiled for a long time. “Could I come in for a glass of water?” She asked. Recognition was the key. It differentiated a funny person from a kind one.
She could see the customer’s back. “What’s your name?” He asked. She reached into her bag and pulled out a fine, sharp tool from the toolkit, and pierced it into his neck. Blood spurted out on her gloved hands as he kneeled over. “My name,” she said, “has been a lot of things in different places. I’ve been called kindness in human form. But, my favourite name is The Screwdriver.”*
*Based on a true dream
Written by Anushmita Mohanty
Image by Kanishka