Showing Empathy

by V T Naveen Mugundh (P5 2020)
        Jane’s tummy rumbled as she eyed the stalls in the canteen as the queues grew and food flew over the counter at a rapid pace. The tempting aroma of food wafted through the air. As students walked by with bowls of piping hot noodles and soup, Jane could not help but salivate.
        Before she knew it, she was being pulled towards her favourite noodles stall like a metallic object attracted to a magnet. The canteen was packed to the brim with students clad in Happy Primary School’s colourful uniform. All one could hear was the boisterous chatter of students.
        Behind Jane, were three girls who were tailing a sobbing girl. Jane was dubious as students at Happy Primary School always chatted with a bright, pleasant smile on their faces. Due to the noise pollution in the canteen, Jane was not able to hear the girls and decided to follow them. After hearing the girls spouting insults and vulgarities, Jane put two and two together and deduced that the girl in question was being bullied.
        Jane looked at the girl being bullied, and it reminded her of the time when she was teased by her peers. One of her peers had teased her for being shy and never speaking up.
        The rest of her peers followed suit. Jane never spoke up even if her teachers asked her a simple question. She would just sit there and stutter while the answer froze in her throat as she could feel all eyes on her. She could not speak up as she was nervous due to everyone watching her.
        Hands shaking and tears rolling down her face, Jane was subjected to being bullied by many of her classmates. After lamenting about this to her close friend, Jane received the advice of plucking up her courage and speaking up for herself. She eventually got rid of her bullies after confronting them.
        Jane snapped back to reality and saw the trio of girls continue to bully the sobbing girl. Jane marched up to the trio of girls and shot daggers at them.
        “My name is Jane. What’s your name?” Jane asked the weeping girl politely.
        “I’m Mary,” the girl replied, suppressing a sob.
        Jane looked at Mary and said, “I have also been bullied relentlessly like you. I plucked up my courage and spoke up for myself. I confronted them and they have not bullied me ever since. Speak up for yourself and you will deter the bullies.”
        “But… they won’t listen to me,” Mary mumbled.
        “I empathise with you. However, you must pluck up your courage and confront your bullies so that you will deter them,” Jane pressed on.
        “Ok,” Mary said in a shaky voice and took a deep breath.
        “Leave me alone and stop bullying me, or else, I will tell Mr Pesteck that you have been bullying me!” Mary yelled as she wiped her tears.
        The bullies’ hearts thumped wildly at the thought of being scolded by Mr Pesteck, the strictest Discipline Master in school. Heads bowed in shame, the bullied incoherently mumbled an apology. The bullies were very taken aback that Mary had found some courage to speak up for herself.
        Mary understood then that the only way to deter bullies was to speak up to them. Jane befriended Mary and told her that she has to muster her courage when bullied. Now, two years after that incident, Mary imparts this knowledge to whoever needs it.

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