Story by Anishree S. Years ago when I was in Class 10, I remember a girl who used to sit next to me. I rarely spoke with her as she was mostly absent. One day, our maths teacher asked her why she was absent so frequently. She put her head down and stood there in silence.
Later that day, I asked her the same question as our teacher. Her eyes welled up and she stuttered to say that they didn’t have any food at home. She said she preferred to sleep the whole day to forget the hunger and her grumbling stomach than making a presence felt in the classroom. She didn’t want to be mocked for not bringing lunch. At that moment, I left without a word. I couldn’t comprehend this confession.
I couldn't believe that the girl who sat silently next to me didn’t have food in her stomach while I had been complaining about how my stomach was full. Hunger and poverty were sitting next to me and how I never bothered to take note of it.
That day, on reaching home I put my bags down and sprinted to find my mother. I told her that I would need two tiffin boxes to school from tomorrow. She seemed confused, I told her everything, about the girl, about the lunch and how my friend will not have to miss classes anymore. The next day, I carried the extra heaviness of one more lunchbox, but a feeling of lightness in my heart. When she arrived, I put the lunchbox in her bag.
She didn’t notice it at first but then she did, she looked at me and smiled. I felt as if I had been lifted from the ground and put on the top of a mountain of blissfulness. I was the reason she was smiling; she was happy. This feeling was precious. I cherished this feeling and this is something that has remained in my heart ever since.
From that day onwards, I carried one extra tiffin for her. We had lunch together. She didn’t have to miss school anymore. She sometimes came over to my home to have study sessions together and, I used to make my mom cook some delicacies for her.
We lost touch after that one year of school, but she has always been a reminder of humanity in my heart. I am more aware now, of my privilege, of my ability to help people around me. Since then, I always try to keep my eyes open in the hope of being helpful to anyone in need of it. I have been fortunate enough to be of help to a few people so far. They all helped me learn a common value that by the touch of love and care any pain can be soothed.