My book group is reading Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. It starts out slowly as he introduces a great many characters, but it comes together and is a fascinating look at the opium trade.
I'm struck by one particular paragraph. Neel has lived a life of luxury as a Raja. He has only eaten specially prepared food and has never washed or dressed himself. Circumstances change, and he is unjustly imprisoned with a cellmate who is recovering from opium addiction, and is a major mess. Neel barters for a sliver of soap, in order to wash this man who is coated with excrement. Neel washes the man despite the stench and vermin. And he comes to this:
"To take care of another human being - this was something Neel had never before thought of doing, not even with his own son, let alone a man of his own age, a foreigner. All he knew of nurture was the tenderness that had been lavished on him by his own care-givers: that they would come to love him was something he had taken for granted - yet knowing his own feelings for them to be in no way equivalent, he had often wondered how that attachment was born. It occurred to him now to ask himself if this was how it happened: was it possible that the mere fact of using one's hands and investing one's attention to someone other than oneself, created a pride and tenderness that had nothing whatever to do with the response of the object of one's care - just as a craftsman's love for his handiwork is no way diminished by the fact of it being unreciprocated?"
I'm with thoughts on care tonight.