They need to be heard.

“Everybody wants to speak, but no one wants to listen” This is something my brother once told me as he appreciated the fact that I had learnt to become a good listener. Of course this made me very very glad, because as a child I was told I talked a lot! Well maybe I did that as a way to escape the questions of the elders, huh? *joke* However, I think it did the job, which was entertaining everyone around me. There’s no doubt it might have annoyed a few people, which didn’t quite stop me. I went on doing what I do best – talk!

It was a one-way story, I talk, you listen; and I talk you listen. I never allowed another person to interrupt, or let’s say I did not want to hear what anyone else had to say. It could have been that someone had something important to talk or share or maybe they even wanted some peace from all the talking I was doing. But I never paid attention to any of the signs that came from them. We are all familiar with situations at home when there’s an argument, and one person assumes the position of highway or no way’ stance. We can’t argue with them, because it is evident that they don’t want to hear us or our side of the story.

Recently, a vegetable vendor I regularly go to (Meena akka) poured her heart out to me as she was putting the veggies into the bag. She recounted that her daughter was not allowed to write her PUC exams for 2 reasons;

  1. 25%  of the college fee was not paid
  2. She did not have a mobile phone to be a part of the online classes, because they couldn’t afford to buy one

The parents were determined to meet the principal and request the college to give their daughter an opportunity to complete her PUC. They walked into that office room with the hope that the principal would hear them out, so there would be a positive solution to their request.  

But, the Principal welcomed the family with their daughter’s transfer certificate, asking them to take her and leave the college! Meena akka pleaded with the Principal repeatedly with tears, requesting for another opportunity for her daughter to complete the examinations. She tried explaining her difficult situation to the Principal who chose to ignore the ‘excuses’ that she assumed were being made up by Meena akka. She went as far as to pass wrong and unfair judgements on the student and the family; saying that their daughter could not afford a college like theirs. Was that a fair thing to say? Who are we to judge what another person is going through?

If the Principal could have heard Meena akka out with a little patience and a desire to understand her situation, I am pretty sure they would have arrived at a solution that could have been reasonable for both of them. But no, like I said in the beginning nobody wants to listen – all they want is to speak!

There are so many people around us who fight like Meena akka to be heard and understood. But does our society or do our leaders ever pay attention to such cries of the public? In this particular situation, it is the question of education and a teenager’s future! When did the society become so greedy that even the education system fell under it?

Meena akka had to somehow make financial arrangements just so her daughter could pursue her education. Do you think that was fair that the student was not allowed to write her exam because 25% of the fee was still unpaid? Couldn’t she have been allowed to write her exams first, and then make arrangements for the remainder of the fee which was pending? Why is it the other way around?

There are families who have sold their cows, jewellery, or even their bicycles just to buy a mobile phone, just so their children could access online education during the pandemic. Our leaders couldn’t think of a solution, the education ministry couldn’t offer help, so the parents took it up on their own, sacrificing the sources of their meagre incomes.

We are far better than this. It’s time we began talking less and started paying more attention to the voices that need to be heard around us. To the voices that are fighting for justice but are not heard because of pride, greed, influence, position and identity.

Everyone needs to be heard and understood.

By Shallon Sherly

Sherly is an amateur writer, she loves creative writing, traveling and doing a lot of craft work. Her passion is to spend a lot of time with children and teenagers understanding life from their point of view. She believes that every child is talented and deserves to be treated the same, what we sow is what we reap.

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