The following passage from “Letter to Sister Benedicta” by author Rose Tremain (link via author John Baker’s blog) had me puzzled and then sit up with a feeling of serendipity. Truly epiphanic. Taste it:
“Oh, no, Gerald!” I [Sister Benedicta, I presume] said relieved, “it was a terrible lunch and I think I should have written to you really. You see, I was brought up in India, Gerald, and I’m afraid I’ve never quite lost it, the habit of never saying anything that’s helpful. No one in India seemed to have a feeling for helpfulness, only a feeling for what is right, and it took me a long time to see that almost everything they thought was right was actually not all that right, but in fact rather wrong. And this deficiency in helpfulness, I mean, I’ve had it all my life and I blame India, but who can say if it was India or if it wasn’t born in me, because it’s a long time since India now and thank goodness all those feelings of rightness have been swept away . . .”
“If you were ringing to ask me to lunch again,” Gerald said quietly, “I’d love to come. You were right about no one helping. They don’t [in India].”
Could it be that we are so full of our self-righteousness that we don’t say anything helpful?