“Are you okay?” I asked.
“ Yes, sir” replied the visibly perturbed teenager of my class.
“Don’t worry, everything will be okay.”, I tried to assure.
“ I know Sir, I even know that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Future tense. But what about my feeling right now? I am anxious now. I am not okay now. Present Tense.” stormed out the distraught teen.
I stood there transfixed: aghast, but more annoyed.
On my way back, I dropped by a friend’s place. Brows furrowed, breaths shallow, I was evidently upset. He sat me down and asked “Would you want to talk about it? “What?” I snapped.
“Whatever that is bothering you”, he replied.
“I don’t know.”, I muttered.
“Okay. I am here. I shall get you some tea. Would you like to …” “ You know the kids, these days, are so full of themselves. They think they are aware of everything. It is futile to even extend help” I cut him mid-sentence.
My friend sat down in front and nodded.
“You know this kid in my class …. “ I recounted the incident, my voice shrill by the end of it and my gestures, animated.
My friend patiently sat there, listening.
“What do we do with them?”I vented out.
“I see you are breathing normal now.” smiled he.
“Yes, thank you for hearing me out”, replied I.
The phone beeped. It was my mother. I answered on the speaker. --“Hi Ma”
--"Are you okay?”
--"Yes Ma. Why?”
--"You sound a bit upset. Don’t worry, everything will be okay.”
--"How can you say? Without even knowing the reason, how can you …” I stopped. My friend smiled at me.
--"Ma, I will call you back”
“I guess you found the answer”, beamed my friend. “I shall get you some tea now. Cookies to go with it?”
I heard my insides battle.
What you did was wrong.
But, was my intent wrong?
No. But did the student ask for the assurance? Did the student want to hear if everything would be okay?
Or maybe not. Who can tell?
But the distress was so apparent? What should I have done?
Could have asked if help was needed?
The answer would have been no.
So be it. At least, the student would have known that you were there, if needed. But..
We are so invested in the idea of helping others, we feel that finding a solution is the only way to help.
No. Sometimes, listening out the problem helps the sufferer manifold. Specially if they are in their higher secondary grades.
What should I have done?
Probably you could have heard the situation out. What your friend did, and your mother did not.
Probably, I should have.
“Tea. With a slice of lemon and a hint of mint in it. Just the way you love!” The sky poured its tangerine into our cups, the smokes off which dwindled into the air as we chatted along.