Remorse

The Blimeys - Remorse - Anshulika Bansal

“Arbaaz  Khan?”

“Present Miss”

“Santoshi Gupta?”

“Present Miss”

“Ritika Singh?”

“Present Miss”, she replied from the classroom door.

“You are late, your attendance of this class will not be marked”, I said

“Miss, my father is very ill. In the morning I had to rush to get the medicine prescribed by the doctor”

“You may get in but your attendance remains unmarked”, I said not paying much attention to her blabbering.

                                                                               ***

“Now, why are you late?”

“Miss, I had to make breakfast for my father. Mother was looking after my brother, he needed help”.

“From the past one month, I am hearing such excuses from you. If your attendance gets short, you won’t get the hall ticket for your exams”, I said spewing venom.

                                                                                ***

“Santoshi Gupta?”

“Present Miss”

“Ritika Singh?”

“Present Miss”, she replied from her seat.

I was startled sensing the voice came from a different place from the usual one.

“Oh! You are on time today. Why what’s the occasion?” I asked desperately. Further I questioned her asking where she was from the past three days and without giving her a chance to answer; I turned towards the class and asked them to clap for her. In between the cacophony of the noise of the children laughs and claps, sarcastically, I declared this day as a red letter day in the history of our high school.

One of the students asked,” Today your father didn't ask you for anything?”

“No. He passed away. From now onward, I will be on time every day”, she replied.

There was absolute silence in the class. I felt as if she slapped me with her answer for my misdemeanor.

                                                                      ***

 I still turn back and take a look at what I did, regret lays over me. Her voice still rings my ears. The feeling that I can’t undo my actions kills me. Tears flow from my eyes like a waterfall from its cliff. Karma’s savagery is too fierce to let time pass by. I bombarded myself with ‘could haves’, ‘would haves’ and ‘should haves’ but this wasn't helping. It was drowning me more as the clock ticks. Sometimes, I feel we humans really are so mean and selfish that we overlook certain facts and pass the judgment like we really know it all. By the time we realize and understand the graveness of our words on others, the damage is already done. Being in a position to create next generations by teaching the children all the lessons that will prepare them for a big war called life, I think I had a special power. Behaving in a scrupulous manner and making a mockery out of a poor little child in front of the whole class without trying to fathom her grief, I feel so ashamed of myself as if a thousand slippers are cast on me for being a shoddy teacher. It was a disgrace on my part to choose a noble position and not being able to comply with the most important quality that is needed in me- the empathy.

We often tell our children to put themselves in the shoes of others before making a decision, and that compassion is the ultimate key to life as a human. We take examples of all those remarkable and glorious people, their humane deeds. But we forsake is to be kind and empathetic one ourselves and see it among the people in our life, however small the reasons may be. And I was one of them, someone who taught my students about the great things in life, but when it came to action, was I one to show kindness and know the whole story? No. I didn't even try. I should be cursed. God! I am so animal like, I feel the animals might have a heart unlike me. I should die. This feeling of remorse should kill me; it should engulf me within itself. I vowed that I’d be a teacher loving my students, no matter what and never be someone who does it like an obligatory job, but here I am, following that very path, being an inefficient one. Where are my morals? This little kid went through a lot and all I cared about was humiliate her all the time without seeking answers for the pain in her melancholic eyes.

Anguish, sorrow and guilt came over me drowning me in the avalanche of remorse, for the wrong reasoning I’ve made. I was looking into the void desperately beseeching for a way to set things right, but only in vain. Nights and nights I cried, but my tears weren't enough to reduce the effects of the deed I did.  I wanted that little child to forgive me but will this suffice the damage I did? The question was like a ghost that haunts me and comforts me at the same time.

Exhausted, I fell asleep. Floating in my dreamy world, I came across myself. The lady who resembled me was speaking something and it was too hard for me to decipher. I ran closer to her but I couldn't listen to what she is saying. I looked around, and found myself at the same place again. Perplexed, I ran again but my surroundings didn’t change. The world was swirling around me, losing senses I fell down. My eyes saw that I was coming near myself.  Too many voices just pierced my ears; a low whisper which was dying was trying to speak something. Putting my all energies at one place, I tried to listen to myself.

The voice said that if I didn’t let go of this feeling then I will hurt myself again and again. This was making me feel queasy. Every past mistake in my life is an opportunity for a new beginning and change in my future. Regret acknowledges the integrity of me in the current, rather than labelling me with negative beliefs from the past and potentially, the future. It can be looked at as self-affirming, rather than self hating. This poor coping mechanism has actually allowed me to unlock strongly distorted views of people and circumstances. The only thing painful guilt make certain is that it allows pointless suffering and negative emotions to imbibe in everybody’s life.

 Like anything worth considering in life, there are possibilities for self- discovery in every mistake. I learned my lessons, matured stronger and I still continue to back up. At the end of the day, material accomplishments are simply washed away; but lessons learned and experience gained contributes to both personal and spiritual growth.

                                                                                ***

I reached school and searched for her. I found her seated on her chair and the children surrounded her. The scene made my eyes brim over. I overheard the conversation in which the children were apologizing from her. One of her friend was trying to comfort her and fed her breakfast from her lunchbox. Ritika smiled and shook hands with everybody. I made way for myself, reached for her little hands and cried holding her hands, asking for forgiveness. She came forward, wiped my tears and hugged me. She broke, I broke and all our pain flowed.