I remember watching them stroll into the room; like they owned the place. In many ways they did. Not in the literal sense of the word but otherwise. The minute they entered they owned everyone’s attention. But they couldn’t care less. They were too caught up in their own world, oblivious to everyone’s stares. They laughed and high fived and slung their bags on one shoulder as they walked. The guys had their ties loosened to just the right amount so as to scream casual, not careless. The girls wore skirts just a little shorter than the others and had their socks rolled down right to their ankles. I remember being very aware of their knees. A proper length of skirt gives you just a glance of a woman’s knees as she walks forwards or sits down. This length however was much higher up. But not too noticeable a difference to attract attention. But they did attract attention, of the right kind.
I was the new kid. Being the new kid is always awkward anywhere. Even now at my new place of work I have the same feeling that I had when I walked into that class that day. Little did I know that my life would henceforth not be the same at all. That these people would surround me and absorb me in their world. I wasn’t informed of the whirlwind that had set in my life and I had to hang on for dear life.
I entered the class and introduced myself. I remember looking left and right, adjusting my tie, avoiding eye contact with everyone. Those were my stage fright years. Being horrified would describe it better. I finished my nervous introduction and looked up to see everyone’s eyes on me. I scanned the room for a seat where I could sit down and hide but there were none. The teacher looked with me with her finger on her chin, contemplating where I would sit.
He raised his hand. “Come sit here”, he said. He shifted on his desk designed to sit two people and made room for me. I walked over and I remember seeing the brightest smile I had seen in my life. ” I’m Sohail, hello” he said extending his hand towards me. “Arjun,” I said nervously.
Little did he and I know that his act of kindness would change my life to an unmeasurable amount. I can still very much feel the ripples of that day reverberate.
A day, an act, three words that changed everything.
I sat down finally able to breathe on my own. What I didn’t know was that I was one of them now.


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