It was a long time back. I was then in a resident hostel. The first day I entered the hostel room, I instantly started searching for something. A dead rat, I was searching for, couldn’t find it. Then I put my nose on radar mode. I located the smell came from near the bed of a guy at the end of the room.
I went to that guy’s bed. It being a presumably unpleasant or rather should I say really foul smell. I asked him if he has noted it, “what’s the smell boss, have you left something to rot?” He didn’t reply. He didn’t even look sociable, so I left him there and sprayed liberal amount of room freshener.
The next day there was a discussion, the guy on his adjacent bed complained to us that he smells like a skunk in the junk. We then cracked a few jokes and became friends at his expense. We used to make fun behind his back saying “run! the fish market is coming” or something like “the only time he showered was when he accidentally got caught in rain”.
Nobody liked him because he was never sociable enough and who’ll put up with the mal-odor. After around a month one day I came to room early and there was nobody except this smelly guy. I didn’t make any noise while entering, so I was able to hear him sobbing heavily. That moment I felt an unknown pity.
I approached him braving the odor (yes it was really bad). I asked him what the problem is. He shook it off but I can see the pain in his eyes and I was looking right at him. He broke into tears and started talking about his smell. He said it is a medical disorder, “trimethylaminuria” and he couldn’t help it.
I felt really sorry for him at that moment and reflected upon my past and how cruel I was mocking him instead of showing compassion. We often do that, because what is more funny than misery of someone else. We are often crows feeding on wounds. I became a friend of him. He is sincere and pleasant, only not sociable because of his smell. What a handicap for him.
I started guarding him against insult, suggested tips for combating odor. Later he was on medication and restricted diet and with the help of a spray of perfume he got rid of the smell to certain extent. Because he is compassionate and warm he easily got friends. The advantage he had over us is he knew the true nature of the people better because of ugly episodes in the past.
I suggested him the alternate 3 minutes hot, 1 minute cold shower cycle. We were blessed with water heaters by our hostel. It is effective to rid the toxins in the skin and circulation. It not only gives you healthy skin but also healthy body. You may give it a try yourself.
We are still friends. As I remember that day I consoled him, I always wonder how a small act of kindness could amount to such great benefit. It gave him the empathy that he needed as a boost to mingle, and for me it gave a good friend for life.
I can’t agree more with Mother Theresa here – “Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.”