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Story Time: Have a bigger heart!

Story Time: Have a bigger heart!

In frustration I tore apart the page I was just writing on. Crumbling it up, I clenched my fists and shut my eyes tightly as I allowed the horror of the approaching final exams to settle in. The final exams were now hardly a fortnight away. Panic had already started taking over as I was frantic about the nightmare which was ‘algebra’. Our teacher was on leave and nobody minded that as we were done with the coursework. For me, however, this meant no sight of additional help. Yet I needed it desperately, there was no chance I could do poorly in an exam as important as this.

Nearly tearful, I now played a scene from a few weeks back in my mind. I was constantly asking Saba, my desk mate as well as a good friend I befriended when I entered middle school, to explain me a certain problem of algebra.

Saba was gifted at this subject, but at this moment the teacher was in the class, we were assigned timed questions and Saba was busy solving them.

She paid no heed to my pleading tone. As I continued asking her in soft tones, she suddenly flared up and asked me to let her focus and stop disturbing.

I was left aghast. But what followed next was even more unexpected; the teacher sternly told Saba not to disturb the class and work quietly. I could see she was taken aback by the teacher’s words. After all she was the model student of the class.

At that moment, I felt completely justified in being happy for the scolding Saba received as she used a harsh tone with me. That was the last day I talked with Saba.

The next morning she was confused and perplexed on finding her place taken as I chose a new desk mate for myself. Over the course of the following weeks, I stopped talking to her altogether.

Not only this, I kept thinking of how she could display such an attitude towards a friend she’s had for years and with that I started telling people how Saba was only interested in being a teacher’s pet.

Coming back to the present, I could not help but think how Saba could’ve explained all that needs to be explained amidst the variables and constants which do not make sense to me at all, and yet were perfectly understood when Saba did the algebra drill. I couldn’t ask her for it now.

During the afternoon lunch break, I saw a group of my classmates sitting hunched together around someone who apparently was explaining something. My new-found desk mate dragged me there and behold, it was Saba who was explaining algebra to anyone who’d asked. Now that we were there, my desk mate insisted that we listened too.

Having no choice left, an ego terribly hurt, I sat down and listened. Over the remaining lunch hour, all those specific queries I had were now absolutely clear to me.

Being the last one to stand up, I was now face to face with Saba who casually asked me whether I understood it all or not? I could only nod slightly.

She kept on speaking. Saba told me how she had found the crumpled bit of paper by my desk in which I had written all the topics I did not understand. She said, she’d been looking for a chance to somehow explain it to me and was very glad that she was able to help after all.

I couldn’t believe this. The person against whom I’ve been saying things was so keen on helping me out. At that moment I realised my mistake — the mistake of judging people too soon, based not on how they are as a person but how they treated us for that ‘one’ time. After all, wasn’t I disturbing her during a class? Yet all I remembered was her harsh tone. I narrowed down my observations and failed to notice the whole situation. Also, I’d been hurting her despite no real fault of hers.

That day, our friendship rekindled. That day, on the back of my algebra notebook the following words were written: ‘Have a bigger heart!’ We need to learn that people are not defined by the one tiny act they committed against us, the picture is much bigger and so should our hearts be.

Published in Dawn, Young World, January 28th, 2017, 2016

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