“Come and get your washed T-shirt! Remember to hang it up in your cabinet later!” my mum hollered. It was like any typical Sunday morning. It was time to complete my house chores. I carried the stack of clothes and bolted to my bedroom. As I opened the cabinet, I saw a familiar T-shirt poking out of the cabinet. Carefully I took it out and investigated it. It was then that I remembered what had happened that fateful day in school. A smile spread across my face slowly as I reflected on the unexpected turn of the events that resulted in me understanding the meaning of being helpful.
The day had begun like other school day. “Ring…” the bell sounded, signaling the start of our Science lesson. Our teacher, Madam Lee had told the class last week that we will be heading to the Science Laboratory to carry out an experiment for the first time. As expected, we were all on the edge of our seats while waiting for Madam Lee’s arrival. The incessant chattering of my classmates filled the classroom as students talked animatedly about their first visit to the Science Laboratory.
Click, clack, click, clack. The sound of high heels striking the ground silenced the ruckus. At once, students scrambled frantically back to their seats as they heard Madam Lee approaching.
As soon as she entered the classroom, she pointed to the two students nearest to her – me and my nemesis, Shawn, to carry a box of glass beakers to the Science Laboratory and distribute one to every table. I tried every way possible to signal to Madam Lee that we were arch nemeses. However, she did not notice me! It was about as if I was non-existent in the classroom!
Fear gripped my heart as I bit my lip. My heart hammered widely against my chest. Gulping down the lump rising in my throat, I took a deep breath and muttered to myself, “Oh no! We have hated each other since Primary Three as he had bullied me multiple times over the years… How can I work with him now?”
Pushing that thought aside, I took a deep breath, got out of my seat and trudged to the back of the class to retrieve the box of glass beakers. It was at that moment when both of us made eye contact with each other. Shawn shot daggers straight into my eyes, almost as if he was threatening me. Immediately, I hung my head and tried not to make further eye contact with him. I took the lead and exited the classroom with my back facing the corridor. Shawn followed suit, keeping an eye on the corridor but not saying a single word. I quickened my pace as soon as I reached the staircase landing, so that we could be over and done with the task.
Even though it was just one level away, it felt like an eternity. Just as I reached the last step of the staircase, I tripped on my shoelaces that had come undone and lost my footing. However, Shawn grabbed onto my shirt in the nick of time and prevented me from falling to the ground with a loud thud. The box of glass beakers with Shawn however was not that lucky. It had flown out of Shawn’s hands during the fall. At that moment, everything felt like it was moving at a snail’s pace. With his face a white as a sheet, Shawn immediately ran down the staircase and caught the box of glass beakers that was about to land on the floor with a great crash. Blood drained from my face as I stood rooted on the ground for a few seconds. A myriad of questions rushed through my mind, “Oh my god! Did he just help me? Did he get hurt? Should I help him?” At that moment, the sound of pupils chattering descended upon us from upstairs which jolted me back to my senses – it was my class!
Worry reduced me to a quivering pile, but I helped Shawn up to his feet as he heaved a sigh of relief. We carried the box of beakers to the Science Laboratory together as a pair. This time, we made eye contact with each other warmly with a twinkle in my eyes.
“Thank you for helping me out, Shawn. You not only prevented me from falling, you also saved the poor box,” I chirped with a smile plastered on my face.
“It was really no big deal at all! I am sorry for treating you badly in the past. By any chance, could we be friends and forget about the past?” Shawn asked with his head hung low.
Surprised, I immediately agreed and from then on, Shawn stopped causing trouble and we would smile and greet each other in school. During the Science lesson that day, Shawn and I chose to pair up and had an enjoyable time together at the Science Laboratory.
“Are you done yet? You need to start sweeping the floor already!” a familiar voice shook me from my stupor. I turned around only to find that my mother was standing by the doorway of my bedroom. Smiling, I cleared my mind and dashed out of the room. Not only had I learnt the true meaning of being helpful, I had also learnt not to judge a book by its cover and to look at what is on the inside.