Walking One Step At A Time With Sahil

Posted by Tim Huang on Oct 5, 2015
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I just arrived home to Bhutan after my first trip to India. I spent almost a month volunteering at Manav Sadhna, a true family of servant ladders and children who live and love from their hearts. To “soak in the ecosystem” as Madhu-bhai so nicely put it, I also sat Awakin circles at Neil-bhai’s apartment in Ahmedabad and the Urban Ashram in Pune, attended a Moved By Love “Head, Heart, and Hands” retreat at ESI Sughad, and visited a dear friend’s village 2 hours from Pune. “Doing” all of these things in no way captures the subtle shifts that I felt throughout my time though. As I reflect back on the month, the phrase “small is beautiful,” the theme of our MBL retreat, resonates deeply with me and seems to embody my experience. Although there are countless stories of kindness that touched me, I want to share a few small and beautiful moments with a young boy named Sahil, who has profoundly shifted my perspective and helped water the seeds of my inner transformation.

Sahil is an inspiring, always-positive 10-year-old boy who has trouble walking because of a bad case of meningitis. He lives in the Ramapir no Tekro slum community across from the Gandhi Ashram. Everyday after volunteering with the library programs at Manav Sadhna’s Community Center in Tekro, I would walk over to Sahil’s home right behind the center and hang out with him for a few hours. When I arrived, his father or mother would help him up from his bed to a small bench they made for him out front of the house. He would greet me with a smile and a calmness that seemed to make all worries go away. Sitting together on the bench, we would chat for a bit and do a variety of fun activities.

On any given day, we would be reading aloud short story books from the Community Center library, making and flying paper airplanes, playing math-based card games with the smile card playing deck (winner has to do the random act of kindness on the last card he puts down), doing arts and crafts with crayons and clay, playing with a Rubik’s cube I got him, and listening to songs from Nimo. And Sahil is just one of those kids that loves to learn. We read through at least a dozen small children’s books together, and every game I taught him he would pick up effortlessly. He’s constantly curious and is willing to try anything new, including doing some basic yoga stretches and writing a thank you card for his Community Center teachers after winning several different smile card games with those kindness instructions on the last card.

Meanwhile, his little sister Mahik, who is only 3 years old and is still learning to walk, would also wobble over to come play with us everyday. She often was curious to see what we were doing. On one afternoon, her mother Neha-bhen gave her some papad, one of her favorite snacks to eat. She immediately came over to me, broke it in half while babbling something, and generously put her little hand out to offer most of it to me. I was really touched. At 3 years old, she’s already practicing kindness – it’s so natural for her. I felt so grateful and humbled in that moment. She has so little, but is willing to share so much. Needless to say, it was some of the most delicious papad I’ve ever eaten. It was in these moments that I saw, despite the material poverty of the slums, there was a great social and spiritual wealth here in Tekro – a wealth of resilience and generosity that has taught me humility.

One day that I will always remember with Sahil is the afternoon we started sharing more deeply about our lives. We were chatting about his day, and I decided to ask him about a memorable day in his life. Without hesitation, he looked me in the eyes and said with the most genuine smile, “everyday.” For a few moments, I sat there speechless, in awe of him. I thought to myself that if I were him - 10 years old, struggling to walk, living in a slum community, and stopped out of school because of a medical condition – I’m not sure I could have said the same, that everyday is a memorable one. When I asked him why he felt this way, he just looked over at his little sister Mahik, who was plopping around with a cute innocence, and I could see in his eyes the deep love he had for her. With a smile on my face, I started to share about how I love my sister too, and how she’s one of the biggest inspirations in my life. He listened deeply and then was silent. We both let that silence be for sometime before we both chuckled a bit as Mahik fell down and got back up with a fearless grin. In that moment of sharing and silence, we connected human-to-human, heart-to-heart across our differences. It felt like we just understood each other as brothers.

Over the last month, I knew I was going to learn a lot from Sahil, but I did not expect that he would be one of my wisest teachers. Sahil can’t physically walk without the support of others, yet he is helping me WALK (witness, accept, love, know thyself, as Nipun-bhai so beautifully puts it) and take one step at a time on my inner journey. I’m so grateful to him and so many of the others I’ve met this last month at Manav Sadhna, ESI, and the Moved by Love community. They have all given me a new conviction to walk my path with humility and to remember that on the way, we can do no great things, only small things with great love. 

Posted by Tim Huang | Tags: manavsadhna movedbylove walk | permalink

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Comments (5)

  • Xiaojuan Shu wrote ...

    Wow! Thanks for such a beautiful sharing, Tim! So many memorable moments as you volunteered at the ashrams, attended the Move by Love retreat, played Smile Cards, listened to Nimo's songs, and gradually learned to WALK from the 10-year-old Sahil Master, who sees every day a memorable day! And his 3-year-old sister Mahik would share with you most of her favorite snack. :) You must have charmed them with your humility and curiosity with your sincere presence. Inspiring!

  • Purvi wrote ...

    Hey Tin..!!! Wow...!!!! Thank you for sharing your feelings while you were in India..!! And wonderful to know about Sahil's inspiring living..!! If you have not shared this we would never know about this beautiful soul.
    I remember you every time when I look at that peace mala that you gifted me at awakin circle. I still wear it and will remember you forever how spontaneously you gifted it to a so-called stranger with lots of love and grace.. :)

  • Deki Choden wrote ...

    Your passion for compassion is truly infectious, Tim! I bow in reverence not merely to the kind deeds you do but for the purest of intentions with which you do them, born of great love and of service. As you so often say, yes, you're planting the seeds and someday all of the loving acts of kindnesses that you do will have their ripple effect to bring out the humanity inherent in all humans! In deep Gratitude 🙏

  • Catherine Peyreaud wrote ...

    dearest Tim, thank you so much for your sharing and being able to put words on what you experiences when being in Esi, Manav sadhna, matri,.. of course what we go through is very moving first but after a while it just contributes so clearly to shift to another level of awareness, of being present of every single minutes of the life, where beauty and gifts are there, aways...

  • Daniela wrote ...

    Dear Tim, Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful and inspirational story of Sahil and you!