Dr Satish sat across the desk, in front of Dr Ashutosh. Dr Ashutosh, the renowned psychologist and counsellor, was Dr Satish’s friend. Dr Satish himself was a well respected and sought after person in the same field, but now he was there to seek help. His son Gaurang was an exceptionally brilliant boy, studying in his last year of school. He had always been a topper in school and had already won a full scholarship for the best college in the United States. He was such a focussed student that it seemed as if nothing distracted him. He was an all rounder too, winning debates through his eloquence and knowledge, and also being adjudged the best singer of the year, and thus was a source of envy to many. He, being short and stout, lacked only in physical charm. But this was of no concern to him.

Now, youngsters, being full of energy, always have different expressions in life. Gaurang was not much of a party animal, like many others, for basically he never had time for that. He had no girl friend too, for he never felt the need for one. In his batch, like in all other batches, there were many students who were very conscious of their looks. There were many handsome boys and many pretty looking girls, who had role models ranging from stars in Bollywood to Hollywood. One such girl was Jia, who was extremely confident of her looks. In a dare with her friends, she was asked to woo Gaurang. Jia accepted the challenge and started working on it. In the pretext of seeking help in studies, sharing thoughts on the future, etc., Jia started spending a lot of time with Gaurang. This sort of an experience was completely new to Gaurang. He got floored by Jia and fell head over heels in love with her. Now Gaurang was seen in every party as well as outing with Jia. In no time, Gaurang was a changed person. This carried on for a good three to four months when unfortunately, one day, he overheard Jia and her friends talking about him and the dare. Jia was playing a dare all this while? Gaurang was stunned beyond control and not being able to handle such a humiliation, he found haven in drugs.

Gaurang’s parents were always so very confident as well as proud of Gaurang that for many months, all his changes went un- noticed. Both were professionals and were extremely busy in their own fields. They also believed that Gaurang had crossed that difficult and trying stage where parents needed to be overcautious. They had given Gaurang complete freedom and space to spend his time on his own. Over time, things kept adding together; missing meals together, staying behind closed doors of his room most of the time, minimal interaction with parents, drew Satish’s attention. His efforts to communicate were turned down with the excuse of having loads to study, but then came the final straw! The semester exam results showed Gaurang failing in each subject. His parents were shocked and after lots of conversation with his friends, they could piece the story together. How to help their son and get him out of the mess, was what Satish had come to discuss with his counsellor friend Ashutosh.

Ashutosh heard the whole thing out patiently. He was thinking how ironical it was, that the so well-known psychologist, who had been counselling people for years, was now sitting helplessly not knowing what to do. He was just a father now. He spoke gently to Satish,

“Have you tried reaching out to him? Have you spoken with him ? What does he say? I am sure he himself would have realised his mistake, and must be desperate to get out of this mess.”

“Yes, he wants to get out of this whole thing and is not able to take in the amount of damage that he has done to himself and to his studies that he has been so focussed about. He feels miserable at putting all his hard work of years, at stake. The boy who was mostly accurate in his own evaluation, has lost a year now and he is unable to come to terms with it,” sighed Satish, “also, to have been fooled like this for a dare, is making him feel even worse.” Satish continued, “you know what Ashutosh, we could not notice all these things for months. Imagine living in the same house and not knowing what your child is going through. You sitting and solving the problems of others, completely oblivious to your own? We had become overconfident of our son, Ashutosh. We had let him be, in his own space, in his own world. He had not crossed his teens and we thought that he was all sorted and would not need our guidance. We have to help him, Ashutosh, we just have to,” said a determined Satish, as if to his own self.

The two friends sat there talking for some time and that itself helped clear Satish’s mind to a large extent. He remembered a case where the brilliant daughter of a teacher, because of her first crush, had messed up her life. He remembered giving advice to her parents to just destress her first, by constantly expressing their love to her. He went home and told his wife Ramola that the three of them were going on a long holiday. Preparations were made and the three left. They headed straight for Srinagar, for it was Gaurang’s favourite. In his favourite surroundings, Satish and Ramola gently but firmly tried to re-assure Gaurang that they loved him unconditionally. That all they were concerned about was his happiness and that they would always be there for him. A year here and there did not matter much, provided it was taken as a learning experience. They told him it was up to him to either break down and give up on his dreams for ever, or pull himself up and reach up to the stars, as he always wanted.

The three would go out on long walks and soak themselves in the splendour and grandeur of nature. Satish and Ramola both spoke about their own challenges and experiences of youth. They spoke about their own failures and their strife to overcome them. Gaurang let all of this sink in. This was after a long time when he could feel completely one with his parents. He was a boy with a strong mind and his confidence started re- surfacing. It was not easy to accept the damage and move ahead, but he had made up his mind. He was also seeing his parents dealing with this adversity. If his parents could fight for him, why couldn’t he do so for his own self? They had a good month-long stay at Srinagar, and the stay did wonders to all three of them. Satish and Ramola too realised that being connected has its own benefits. It did not mean interfering or not giving space, but it meant holding hands and being involved in each other’s lives as much as possible. Overconfidence may have its fallouts and at times may be irreparable. Gaurang learnt that it is better to never allow oneself to be washed away by anything; it is good to have hold on self, and anything that contributes to growth towards fulfilling the dreams, may be advisable; anything that is an obstacle and hampers one’s strength, should better be avoided.

Three years on, Gaurang was passing out from his University in the United States, that day. It was his convocation and his parents were there to attend it. Their heart swelled with pride, and they clapped loudly, when Gaurang was awarded the gold medal, as the topper of the year. They were in for a very pleasant surprise when, after the ceremony, Gaurang came to meet them.

“Hello Mom and Dad, meet my friend, Maggy. We have done our graduation together.”

Satish and Ramola hugged Maggy and Gaurang warmly.

Author of the book “The Heart Speaks”, Medium writer since 2018, top writer in fiction, short stories. Loves writing, dance, music, children. Learner for life..