By Samrudhi Dash
I was in the ninth standard at St Joseph’s High School, Bhubaneswar, when I began to suffer pangs of depression. My parents noticed, but felt that since I had always been a responsible girl and a good student, this was just a temporary phase.
Unfortunately, that was not to be. I didn’t have many friends. I could never share my problems. A deep
insecurity shattered my self-confidence. Soon I refused to attend classes for days on end. I became touchy, angry and frustrated and would shut myself in my room for hours. Eventually, my parents started to admonish me.
The exams were approaching, but I simply didn’t care. My parents and teachers were aghast at my dismal performance. Constant quarrels made life at home a living hell—all because of me.
One morning, after a particularly harsh lecture from Dad, I stood sullen-faced, in the school assembly. Then, as the other students marched to their classrooms, our principal summoned me. I almost lost my wits! Wondering what I’d done, I made my way to Sister Sylvia’s office.
The next 45 minutes were the most precious moments of my life. Sister Sylvia said she had noticed a big change in me. She wanted to know why I was lagging in studies, so often absent and unhappy. She didn’t really interrogate me. She took my hand in hers and listened patiently as I spilled out my worries. She then hugged me as I sobbed my pent up emotions out, messing her clean, crisp habit. I could feel my months of frustration and loneliness melt away in her motherly embrace.
No one had tried to understand what the real problem was, but my principal had done it with her simple act of just listening to me with such attention and caring.
“Come back to my office during the lunch break every day and have your tiffin with me,” she said. So what if I had no other friends. Sister Sylvia promised to be my best friend. The next day onwards, I took my lunchbox to her office and we discussed my problems, studies, hobbies and everything on my mind. I looked forward to school every day.
As the exams approached again, I studied hard. When the results were declared, everybody was pleased, but happiest of all was my principal. With tears of joy, she presented me with a fountain pen.
I soon made new friends and was happy again. But whenever I had a problem, I could always slip into Sister Sylvia’s office for a chat. The next year, I secured nearly 94 percent in my ICSE. I even got a trophy for academic merit as the whole school cheered.
I still don’t know why, out of over 2000 students, my principal chose to help me. Maybe she was a solace for other girls too. Today I am a happy young woman doing my MA and hoping to become a writer. I think I have become an inspiration to several of my friends and cousins, thanks to a kind nun who cared.
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