HomeVolume 7November 2022Invisible kindness

Invisible kindness

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Invisible kindness

ASHWIN VINOD KUMAR is wise for a 16-year-old. With a little kindness from a loving grandpa, he managed to overcome a negative pattern that threatened to derail his success at school. How many similar challenges could we all overcome with a little help from our friends and family?

When we think of kindness we imagine grandiose acts of charity, or experiences of random acts of kindness with strangers. However, the simplest and most profound acts of kindness are often those we take for granted in our everyday existence.

“The world is full of obvious things if one only takes the time to observe them,” said Sherlock Holmes. The world is full of kindness if we take time to observe, I say.

Ever since I was 6 years old and in the 1st grade at school, I have faced difficulty with the Tamil language. I lost the top rank at my school 10 years in a row because of my grades in Tamil. My parents never had any expectation, either academic or otherwise, other than that I pass Tamil so that I could go into the next grade. So coming to the end of grade 10, my freedom was at last in sight – the last year of studying Tamil. Ten long years of struggle, an entire saga of my life, would finally draw to a close. But this was also going to be the most difficult time of my life, because the exam would be graded by the Central Board of Examiners, and who knew what destiny awaited me.

I shared this most agonising secret with my grandfather one day, and he graciously offered to help me, saying that he had studied Tamil for 15 years. It was as if an angel had descended to answer my prayers; his help was exactly what I needed. But he and I lived in different cities. Thankfully, one thing the pandemic has taught us is that distance doesn’t matter.

And so it began. We studied (to my dismay) every single day. He would call me at 2 p.m., just as I finished lunch, and we would study for an hour on video call. He had downloaded the textbook onto his laptop, and he read out and explained every single word, not once, not twice, perhaps fifteen times or more, until I finally understood, finally remembered, and finally expressed some confidence.

I did not want to study Tamil because early on I had performed badly. Then, I continued to do worse because I did not want to study. It was a vicious cycle. Now I studied, not because I enjoyed it – I absolutely did not – but because I got caught up in my own request. I couldn’t disappoint my grandpa who called me sincerely every day at 2 p.m.

I started looking forward to his calls, and enjoyed the time immensely. Forget about Tamil, I just enjoyed talking with him. He is my grandpa. We bonded. And that bond made me resent Tamil less. How could I dislike something my loving grandfather was talking about? Looking back, those 7 hours a week, and all the tales with which he regaled me so that I would enjoy Tamil, were astonishing. He shared humorous and interesting anecdotes, and in between stories of his school and university days, he showed me glimpses of how to appreciate my mother tongue, and indeed how beautiful any language can be.

Well, like all good stories, this has a happy ending – I got good grades in Tamil. But that is not the end of the story, is it?

This story is about the kindness of a grandfather to his grandson – not only teaching him his mother tongue, but helping him fall in love with it. This ending is about grandpa roping in grandma in all the fun, so that the grandson learns higher lessons in togetherness and bonding. This ending is about how all of us have a coping ability, immense resilience, and the human spirit, which decides to shine if we kindle it with love and joy.

And the ending of the story is not what matters. The journey does. The world is full of kindnesses if we take the time to observe them. A lot of them are invisible and present in our own backyard. When we learn to see them, and sow those seeds of kindness in the world, letting them shine, the world will be as inspired as I am.

The world is full of kindnesses if we take the time to observe them.
A lot of them are invisible and present in our own backyard.
When we learn to see them, and sow those seeds of kindness in the world,
letting them shine, the world will be as inspired as I am.

Ashwin Vinod Kumar

Ashwin is the Assistant Cultural Secretary and the Vice President of the Debate Club in his school. His passion includes chess, quizzing, and writing. He wants to study Computer Science to find elegant solutions to everyday challenges. 


  1. Super Ashwin! Your grandfather is a gem. A person of vast knowledge on various subjects. He has innumerable admirers.

  2. Grandparents always to the rescue, and people to bank on. Truly an act of kindness, putting your child on the right path. Always goes unnoticed or not much talked about. You have not just appreciated but also acknowledged this fact by your choice words.

    Whether you like Tamil or not, your English writing skills are right up there for us to learn and get inspired. Congrats Ashwin

  3. This is indeed a beautiful and inspiring story, Ashwin. It speaks volumes of the Wisdom Bridge.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙏


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