Jayeshbhai came out his front gate to be greeted by the gleeful yells of five little kids who had hitched a ride to his house in the back of a pedal rickshaw. They ran up to him and hugged him like he was a long-lost relative. The driver of the rickshaw was also a long-time friend of Jayeshbhai, along with the 20-year-old orphan that had been under his care for the last ten years of his life. Jayeshbhai had encountered the man years ago and had helped him in small ways from time-to-time. All five kids were from the shanties on the side of Ring Road, and became most intimately familiar with Jayeshbhai during the torrential rain on July 1st last year where they were whisked off to Gandhi Ashram, given baths, a meal, a new set of clothes, a music concert, and an entertaining lesson on the importance of cleanliness in maintaining health.
Though the merry bunch were overjoyed to pay their personal hero a visit, the pedal rickshaw driver quietly confided that his visit wasn’t for the simple joy of togetherness. For several months, he had been experiencing pain and difficulty in urinating and had visited Jayeshbhai a few weeks ago about the problem. He was sent to Manav Sadhna’s ‘in-house’ doctor, Poonambhai, and the diagnosis called for surgery at the Civil Hospital to correct the problem. While treatment is technically free, the related medications and various materials charges could add up to several hundred rupees—an amount nearly impossible to save for a man who earns around Rs. 40 day, has two mouths to feed, and owns no home save the cargo space of his pedal rickshaw.
Years ago, after his first few encounters with Jayeshbhai, this man ‘adopted’ a ten year old orphan that he had now raised to an age of 20 years. Though he himself had meager resources, he once confessed that his inspiration in raising this boy had been Jayeshbhai himself. He felt that if Jayeshbhai did so much to help so many, certainly it was within his power to help at least one boy. And since then, the two have lived together in the back of a pedal rickshaw, sharing the small income earned from their only asset.
Perhaps for the first time, JB told the man about deeply he was inspired by his adoption of the boy. JB had helped him only a few times, in a few small ways, and he in turn, paid it forward to such an extent that he assumed the complete care of another human being. JB told the man about his own anonymous friends from around the world who had started sending him Rs. 5000 a month so that he could pay it forward to those in need, and how this man himself had been such a shining example of the power of paying forward. He then dropped Rs. 500 into his pocket for the surgery. The man was shocked, and protested that he only needed around Rs. 350 for his surgery. JB told him to spend what he needed, and that he was fully confident that if there was anything left over, the man would pay it forward in a way that would deeply inspire many others. In the same way that a small drop of yogurt can make a whole pot of milk into yogurt, so too, JB explained, his story had in it the capacity to release the droplets of compassion from the hearts of many to transform the world into ‘yogurt’.