by Benjamin Khoo (P6 2021)
The high-pitched school bell went off for the final time that year, signalling the end to the last day of school. Students of all ages stampeded out of the school gate. Even I, who normally walked out of school at a leisurely pace, bolted out of the classroom door at that familiar sound. After school, I was headed to my best friend’s, Kayden’s, house for a playdate. I scanned the area for him, but alas he too had run off. Determined not to keep him waiting, I raced down the corridor and took a shortcut to the foyer, which involved climbing down a few flights of stairs that were often deserted. Once I got to the foyer, my mother would ferry me off to Kayden’s house.
I arrived at the top of the stairs. As usual, its eerie atmosphere sent a shiver down my spine, despite having taken this route many times in the past. After climbing down the first few flights of stairs, I noticed another student using the staircase. He was short for a Primary 5, and also rather skinny. He was probably a year or two younger than me, and most likely going to the foyer from the Enrichment Room on the top floor. He did not seem to notice me, and unlike everyone else, he took his time walking down the stairs. His pace could even be described as cautious, his feet going down the staircase one step at a time, as his hand gripped tightly onto the railing.
Then, suddenly, despite his caution he fell down from the third step. He screamed loudly, arms flailing like a helpless chicken as he fell headfirst towards the floor. At the last moment, he used his hand to break his fall, but grasped his hand in pain and sat back down, tears streaming down his face.
I walked down a few steps to help him, but remembered the playdate I wanted to get to as soon as possible. Then, I caught a glimpse of his red, puffy eyes and swollen hand, and my heart went out to him. “What should I do?” I thought. I looked around to see if there was anybody around to help the young boy. As I suspected, it was just him and I. “I can’t leave him here alone,” I thought to myself, “I have to get him to the General Office.”
I ran down the stairs and called out to the boy, “Don’t worry. I’ll get you to the General Office.”
“Thank you,” I heard him say with a weak voice. I got him to put his uninjured arm around my neck and let his injured arm rest. Once he felt comfortable, I helped him to the sickbay at the General Office slowly, his good arm around my neck, his injured arm hanging loosely.
After 15 minutes, when we arrived at the sickbay, a nurse walked up and helped the boy to a bed where he could call his parents to see a doctor. To my surprise, the principal was there as well. She sat next to the injured boy, asking him if he was in pain.
“No, Mummy,” he replied.
At that moment, I gasped. “Had I really helped the principal’s son?” I thought. When she saw me, she smiled and said, “Thank you. My son has always been flat-footed, so he tends to lose his balance easily. I simply cannot express how lucky I feel to have such wonderful and helpful students in my school.”
My heart warmed at the praise, and I now knew without a single doubt in my mind, that I had made the right choice, the choice to be helpful.
As Charles Dickens once said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of others.” That day, I gave up being early for my playdate, and instead decided to help the boy. I did not regret this decision because I knew that what I had done had made that boy’s day brighter. That day, I learnt the importance of being helpful.