Once there was a man who had a congenital heart defect; he was born with a hole in his heart. When he got older he couldn’t work. His wife left him and his children abandoned him. He only ate what people gave him. Often he didn’t have the strength to even stand up. Once he went without food for two or three days. Finally he decided to get out of the house and beg for food. But as he approached people, they would start yelling at him and calling him names. “What a nuisance!” they would say. “Get out of my way!”
The man felt extremely depressed. “I can’t live like this anymore,” he thought. “My wife and children have left me. I have no one, and I don’t have the money for treatment.” He came to a bridge and decided to jump off. However, he still felt very hungry. Although he was about to commit suicide, he was unable to control his hunger. “Let me ask a few more people,” he thought to himself. People were passing him on all sides. “Can you please give me something?” he begged one passer-by.
The passer-by stopped and put his hand into his pocket. He tried to find some money, but realised that he had forgotten his wallet. “Oh, no!” he said. “I’m sorry. I have nothing to give you. I forgot to bring my wallet.”
Hearing this, the man said, “Don’t worry. You’ve already given me something.”
“What did I give you?” the passer-by asked.
“Your kind words,” replied the man. “They have filled my stomach. Now, even if I don’t eat anything, I’ll be able to walk. Until now, whenever I asked for alms, people only shooed me away. Only you stopped and spoke a few words of sympathy. Now I feel satiated even without eating. I had actually come here to commit suicide. But knowing that there are people like you in this world gives me the strength and hope to go on living.”
Overhearing them, people gathered around. Among them was a cardiologist. He enquired about the man’s health. The man explained his health problem. “Although the heart problem is serious, I don’t have the money to get proper treatment. I was going to commit suicide, and I just came here to jump,” he said.
The doctor took the man to his hospital. He raised money from friends for the surgery and was able to heal the man.
Similarly, there are many people on the brink of death. Even if we don’t give anything material, a mere compassionate word may be enough. We should learn to say such kind words to people.