The audience, comprising of mainly women and a few men were warm and welcoming as they kindly appreciated me with their applause and feedback.
It was just then, a lovely young lady with a soft accented voice, Tina, came up to me and said that she had met me during a workshop many months ago. Pleasantly surprised, we soon started chatting.
A couple of minutes later, I noticed the unassuming, quiet and dignified middle aged lady with a serene smile standing beside her.
I politely smiled at her when Tina, introduced her as her Mother. From her appearance, expression and composure, I assumed that she may not be comfortable if I spoke to her in English and not knowing her native language, I merely smiled again.
I decided to refrain from speaking to her about the talk I had conducted and her feedback as I was concerned about the possibility of embarrassing the pleasantly smiling lady. What if she is someone who was only there because she wished to accompany her daughter for this event?
On my way out of the venue, I met Tina and her Mother again and we started to chat. It was when Tina addressed her Mother in Konkani, that I decided that I’ll communicate with her in Hindi.
To my surprise, Tina’s Mom, Mrs.Celene, not only gave me feedback, she fearlessly spoke her mind. Her conversation reflected strong values, wisdom from the fruitful experiences of her life and an understanding of life’s teachings that one can only grasp with insight and patience. She was also a successful businesswoman running an event management company with her husband. I felt humbled and chastised, because I realized that the moment we stop ourselves from knowing another person, we lose out the opportunity to learn from them. And despite my well meaning wish not to embarrass her, I still needed to look past my “assumptions” regarding a person – however natural it may appear to me.
After a few minutes of conversing with Mrs.Celine, I resumed my conversation with Tina.
“You know Seetha, in school, when I would say that my Mother is my Role Model, my class mates would say, “How can it be? She is not even educated!” but I would tell them that the way she has taught me to care for others in the world, brought up her three children successfully and managed her family and life with complete dedication is what makes her my Role Model”, said Tina with a proud smile.
In that poignant moment I had nothing to say except humbly murmer, “Tina…your Mother is highly educated”
Before I could elaborate on what I consider the essence of education to be about, Tina and her inspiring Mother had to leave.
I stood there in the baking afternoon heat, looking at their car as it left the parking lot. I had fallen victim to the age old error of judgment – MAKE ASSUMPTION, by assuming that a person may be what I imagine them to be. But I felt happy too, for this situation also gave me the golden opportunity to correct myself by getting to know a wonderful and inspiring person through a brief but thorough chat.
Today, as a Personal Development Trainer, although I “assume” less than I did once upon a time, I still sometimes stand under the “umbrella of assumption”… an umbrella I know I can do without.
Do you have an Umbrella of Assumption with you too?
Believe me, you can do without one!
As Issac Asimov once said,
“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”