Mentor Me India is a non-profit which is on a mission to empower children in low income communities by engaging them in a one-to-one mentorship program with a role model who has similar interests as them.
I could feel the silence crawling into the room and settling in between us. Us – Me and Tanvi. It caught me off guard. I am not used to running out of words, be it in front of an audience or just a 11-year-old. Being an extrovert, talking to strangers comes naturally to me. In fact, it is my job now as a life coach. I always keep a few tricks handy just in case. But with this kid, all my tricks had suddenly been tossed out the window! She was an introvert… Whenever I pushed her to say something, she would answer in monosyllables. Whenever I nudged her to talk about herself, she would just smile. The only time she said more than a single word was when I asked her, “ab kya kare?” (What should we do next?) She said, “Jo bhi aap bolo.”(Whatever you say!) Somewhere in an obscure corner of my mind, I defeatedly asked myself, “Is this it?!”
Thundering sound of claps broke Sonali’s chain of thoughts. Her eyes went to the stage where Tanvi stood in the last stance of her solo dance performance. Tanvi’s confident performance on the stage had sent Sonali down this reverie of thoughts. She remembered the self-doubt like it was yesterday… when in fact that had been at their very first meeting an entire 12 months ago!
They had come a long way since then. Sonali had quickly changed tactics. Instead of nudging Tanvi to say something, Sonali had started expressing and unraveling herself with the aim to gain Tanvi’s confidence. She would end their meetings with high fives and hugs. Slowly, it worked!
Soon Tanvi joined Sonali by contributing to the conversation with daily affairs and anecdotes of her own. She started to hold Sonali’s hand and play with her bracelet in the meetings.
They had indeed come a long way. Sonali felt an unfamiliar warmth spread in her heart. Watching a kid grow slowly, over a span of few years wasn’t new to her, already being a mother to a 9 year old and a 16 year old. But seeing Tanvi grow so much more in just one year, was an experience words could not describe.
Tanvi was scintillating today. Maybe it was the light, maybe her flashy clothes, maybe Sonali’s eyes were sparkling with tears or maybe it was just Tanvi…
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