Pawan, Vineet and Susheel were there today. After usual gupshup and practice, Susheel confided that he was having a horrible time saying the home destination while returning by bus. I had been planning a bus trip with him for sometime. I knew, it had to be today.
So after the, meeting was over, Susheel and I got into a bus. He of course had his fears. But was I totally free of fear? No! I too had performance anxiety. Will I be able to play my role as a speech coach in a crowded bus? Time for reality check- I said to myself, as we hurtled in the bus..
Once in, we moved towards the front rapidly- to get hold of the conductor. Once there, I asked Susheel gently to go ahead, look into his eyes and bounce, the way we had practiced in Anugrah and on the bus stand with strangers, few minutes ago. I stood in such a way, that no one could move towards them- I had a A4 paper ready in my hands with destination written large on it (to hand it to Susheel, in case he failed to say the word)- But Susheel did manage to bounce and say the dreaded word. Conductor gave him the ticket.
Then, I requested him to inquire about other details about the destination from other people around – most, older than him. In about ten minutes, he had said the word at least 6 times with different people with some control and good eye contact. Mission accomplished, I got off at Herbertpur, where Pawan was waiting for me with his bike. He gave me a ride back.
Ten years back- would I have accomplished it differently? Yes, significantly so, I think. I would have never planned in detail, as I did it now: a written paper to help Susheel, just in case.. asking Pawan to get ahead and give me a ride back home etc. etc.
As I left the bus, I saw smiling face of Susheel, as he waived out. His problems are not over. Not yet. But at least he has seen that “it” can be done in the bus as well as in Anugrah.. It is a win-win situation for both of us.