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Showing Empathy

by Sophie Chua (P5 2020)
     “Ugh! Why must school end so late? I can’t wait to go home and take a nice, warm shower and watch my favourite show, Spongebob!” I grumbled as I lugged my heavy school bag down the long path that led to home that and seemed to never end. As I sauntered down the path, my eyes closed temporarily, and my shoulders started to sink more and more. It was a beautiful Wednesday afternoon and the sound of children screaming and shouting as they played in the nearby playground could be heard in the distance.

 

     After what felt like eternity, I could finally see the nearby bus stop which told me that I was getting closer to reaching home. I heaved a heavy sigh as I told myself to keep going and that I was almost there. The bus stop was buzzing with people and the main road in front of it was busy as usual, with cars coming and going and people crossing the road.

 

     Just as I was passing the bus stop, I espied an elderly woman struggling to cross the bustling road. With bags of groceries on one arm and a small clutch in the other, she limped across the road at a slow, snail-like pace. The green light was flashing and was about to turn red. A row of cars with impatient, grumpy drivers inside, lined up in front of her. They blared their honks and signalled her to hurry up. Although I felt a little sorry for her and knew that she might require a little help, I was hesitant in reaching out. I just really wanted to go home, rest on my couch and watch my show! Besides, there are so many people around here, surely someone will help! It is no big deal, she should be fine!

 

     However, the thought lingered at the back of my mind no matter how hard I tried to push it aside. What if she gets hurt? What if something happens to her? Thoughts raced through my mind as I watched the elderly lady limp across the road. All the other passers-by did not seem to care, as some had their heads buried in their books as they crossed the road while others strolled across with headphones on, clearly unbothered or oblivious to what was happening around them. Not one person stopped to help her.

 

      Suddenly, I noticed a blue, sparkly pearl necklace around the lady’s neck. It looked oddly familiar. I have seen that necklace before… but where? I could not recall why it looked so familiar…

 

     Then, it hit me. It was a blue pearl necklace identical to one that my beloved grandmother owned. For a second, I thought I had seen my grandmother in place of the elderly lady crossing the road. My grandmother was old and would have struggled to cross the road as well. Witnessing the old lady struggle to cross the road, I could imagine my grandmother ending up in a similar situation. To know that no one would help her if she was struggling, it felt like a sword was piercing my heart. In that instant, I knew that I could not just turn a blind eye to the elderly woman and that I should help her the best I could.

 

     Mustering my courage, I sprinted up next to her, gave her a gentle tap on her shoulder, and with a warm smile I asked, “Excuse me! Would you like some help? I could help you carry some of your bags since I’m sure they must be very heavy. My grandmother is also getting weaker and has trouble doing daily tasks, so I understand what it may feel like.”

 

     Upon hearing all this, she gushed “Oh my goodness! Thank you so so much!” Immediately, I took some of the bags she had been carrying and slowly supported her across the road. As we strolled across the road, I raised my hand to signal to the drivers and many of them nodded their heads in admiration and approval while the other passers-by all stared sheepishly with their heads hung.

 

     After we finally reached the other side, the lady beamed from ear to ear as she embraced me into a nice, warm hug. With gratitude expressed all over her face, she exclaimed, “Thank you ever so much for your help! I don’t know how to thank you enough!”

 

     “You are most welcome! I’m just happy that you are safe! Take care, hope to see you around!” I replied. That day, I walked home with a skip in my step, and pride written all over my face. I was extremely glad that I had made the right decision to show empathy towards the elderly woman and lend a helping hand. Although I had missed an extra hour or two of Spongebob, the happiness that I felt from this experience is indescribable and irreplaceable.

 

     From that incident, I learnt to always show empathy and lend a helping hand to those in need whenever I could as a little act of kindness goes a long way. I pledged to always learnt o put myself in other peoples’ shoes, truly understand what other people are feeling, and show empathy towards others. For it is in giving, that we receive, and only through showing empathy and helping and caring for others, do we receive true happiness.
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