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A personal piece which speaks of the need to be kind to people, as we are not always aware of the problems faced by them, the seriousness of the battles they fight.
I had to walk down a kilometer or so to take the bus to college. On that deserted street I was soon joined by aother girl. Short, meek, four-eyed, and with a liveliness about her. After two-three days we started passing a smile to each other, and in another two days we started a conversation.
She mentioned how she had noticed me and had been meaning to talk to me. She asked me a lot of questions, and told me about herself. Her father had recently passed away and she had two younger brothers, both in school. Her mother stitched clothes for a living, and she was preparing for her Bank P.O. exams as the whole family depended on her to change its fortune.
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Then she started getting me these sweets, every single day. It was weird as we were both grown ups doing post-graduation. Being wary of strangers, like we tend to be as humans, I became a bit uncomfortable. A few days passed, and I realized she would be waiting for me to walk down that road. I changed my timing, and tried avoiding her, not used to so much attention, that felt a bit intrusive.
After one week of not having seen her, when I reached home one evening, my mother mentioned a girl who had committed suicide by hanging. More questions and I realized it was Smriti – the girl from the bus stop.
This girl, it seems, was in depression. She had been unable to clear her P.O. exams, had been stressed out about how to take care of her family, and had no time for friends. The one single person that she had wanted to be friends with had started avoiding her.
Can my guilt be put down on paper or can there ever be redemption for what I did? I can only excuse myself by saying that we have been taught to be careful of strangers, and (sadly) of anyone who appears friendly. But there is the guilt that perhaps, if only I had given her a listening ear, I could have saved her. Maybe with an outlet for her despair, she would have emerged stronger.
People sometimes wonder why I care so much about others. I have learnt my lesson the hard way. I do hope that no on else goes through the same ordeal to develop empathy, and understanding the value of stopping and ‘listening’.
Why am I mentioning this? Because a colleague’s status message today reminded me of her.
‘Be kinder than necessary to everyone you meet, as you do not know the battles they are fighting’.
If you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, here are some of the helplines available in India. Please call.
Aasra, Mumbai: 022-27546669
Sneha, Chennai: 044-2464 0050
Lifeline, Kolkata: 033-2474 4704
Sahai, Bangalore: 080–25497777
Roshni, Hyderabad: 040-66202000, 040-66202001
Image source: pixabay
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