On the last day before a long vacation, the atmosphere at the school was filled with excitement as everyone was saying goodbye to each other. Children were running around, making noise, and I was on “ground duty,” tasked with keeping an eye on the kids playing on the school grounds to prevent any misbehaving students from causing trouble.
As I was standing there, I heard a small voice call out from behind me, “Excuse me, sir!” I turned around to see a girl holding a Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate in her hand. However, she wasn’t confident enough to look me in the face. I felt it wasn’t appropriate to accept such an expensive gift from an eighth-grade girl and asked her, “Why is this chocolate for me, Susmita?” But she didn’t speak a word and her little hands were still offering me the chocolate.
I was a temporary teacher at that school and knew that I would be replaced by a permanent and dedicated teacher once they were hired. I had only taken on the role of teaching computer science to the students because I couldn’t deny the principal’s request to help until they found a suitable replacement.
As I didn’t have the burden of completing the course, my days with the students passed by listening to their stories. They felt comfortable enough to share their personal issues, family problems, and even their relationship problems. You may wonder and argue whether it’s appropriate to listen to children talk about their relationship affairs, but the truth is, I don’t know. My main aim was to listen to the students, and if I objected to anything, they wouldn’t share their stories with me.
“Thank you for the chocolate, Susmita, but you should keep it for yourself or give it to your best friend,” I politely declined her offer. However, she didn’t take her hands back and continued to stand in the same position, still offering me the chocolate.
Susmita was an extremely introverted student. I had never heard her voice in the classroom, and she always seemed to be lost in her own world of imagination. All the teachers knew that it was pointless to ask her any questions, as it was nearly impossible to make her speak.
She was an average student who rarely failed any subjects, so the teachers didn’t worry about her much and often ignored her. She also never participated in any student activities, so she wasn’t well-liked by her classmates either. However, I often noticed her lost in her own world, busy with her own activities like drawing and writing poems that she would never show to anyone.
As I reminisce about that day, I can’t help but wonder if I had left any positive impression on Susmita, or inspired her in any way. I had only been a temporary teacher, and even though I had listened to her stories and tried to make her feel included, I wasn’t sure if I had made any real impact on her life.
Now, years later, I think about Susmita and where she might be. Perhaps she is pursuing higher education, or maybe she has already achieved great things. But as I think of her, I still have that chocolate with me, a small token of her kindness that I could never bring myself to enjoy. I don’t know if I deserved that chocolate, or if I had truly earned her generosity.
Looking back, I can only hope that in some small way, I had made a difference in Susmita’s life. Maybe, just maybe, I had inspired her to pursue her passions, or to open up to others in her life. And as I hold onto that chocolate, I am reminded of the importance of kindness and generosity, and how they can make a lasting impact on those around us.