When I was a third grader, I had issues with my friends, and could easily feel insulted. I remember a day when it was a dear friend’s birthday and as all children do, she distributed chocolates in class. It just so happened, at the time the two of us were not on the best of terms. I felt she had insulted me during one of the game sessions and we were not talking to each other.
So as per my set of values, if I am not okay with someone, I should not be interacting with them at all; and definitely not accepting chocolates from them. So I waited restlessly for school to finish, sought her out at the end of day, and told her that I did not want birthday chocolates. Naturally, the poor girl didn’t know what to do, and she kept insisting I must take it.
Out of frustration and to prove a point, I finally flung my chocolates at her face and walked away. Yes, I must have been all of 8 or 9 years old, and that’s what I did. I messed up someone else’s special day and, felt miserable myself too.
That instance has lived with me forever, I distinctly remember the corridor where we stood as we argued, our friends who looked on and my very nasty behavior. Today when I look back, I can’t help but wonder what kind of a child would behave the way I did.
And no, I do not come from a troubled dysfunctional family, I have wonderful parents and they have always guided me to greater caring and thoughtfulness. Yet, I flung chocolates at a birthday girl just to spite her. When I look back, I find my behavior to be mean, hurtful and vengeful. I did what I did knowing full well that nobody wants to be treated like that on their birthday.
As I grew up, that incident became a learning for me. I have never again consciously tried to spoil anyone’s birthday, young or old. Even if I have a fight to pick for all the right reasons, I wait till another day. The last thing I want today is for anyone to remember me as the person who spoiled their special day.
Having shared this incident and the shame I feel because of it, I take this opportunity to ask forgiveness of my friend with a sincere heart for that absurd act. And I thank her for teaching me early on never to behave in such an uncaring manner with anyone else.
Is there any incident from your school days that makes you wonder where that behavior came out of? I would love to hear about it.
~ Bharti Athray