What We See First, That’s What We Remember

Story # 1:



Source : https://yourstoryclub.com/short-stories-social-moral/moral-short-story-first-lasting-impression/index.html

The last rites of Sunlight were in progress. Sun was preparing itself for the beginning of another day in the western earth. While, on the eastern side, a busy road in New Delhi was buzzing with exhausted vehicles, which intended to reach their respective shelters along with their occupants. In one of those polluted stretches, I too was returning to my loved ones. Indifference, fatigue and cynicism were my co-riders like those of the most users of the jammed road.

During this hour, on metropolitan roads, one rarely found anyone happy. Only smile that usually occurs is when the red light turns green.

As I was manoeuvring my car amongst the ‘proficients’ and the ‘novices’, I looked at the rear-view mirror. I saw a young man on an even younger bike whizzing through the traffic. It reminded me of the famous Maradona goal in 1986 soccer world cup. “Must be one of those spoilt ‘Richies’,” I thought. He was expertly riding the bike and within a few seconds rushed past my tired old sedan.

What kind of generation would be succeeding ours? I was apprehensive about the future, especially of my own off springs. How would they deal with these kinds of rogues? What do their parents even teach them? I thought. Nothing- was the only palpable answer. Had they ever cared for their children, this would not have been the result. He was apparently in a hurry. Not managing to get hold of a helmet even. What would happen if anything untoward should happen? He just could not care less.

I was about a hundred meters behind the Maradona, when a traffic signal coerced the young dynamite to eventually come at par with us ‘condemnables’ and stop his bike. I kept on watching him. A poor boy of about seven years was approaching him. “What a waste of effort,” I thought. However, his subsequent action was so incomprehensible that I did not move even after the traffic light allowed for the same and other vehicles vehemently informed me by incessant honking.

The young man had quickly reached his wallet, parted with a hundred rupees note, ruffled the boy’s hair, and jumped the red light almost nonchalantly.


Story # 2:

From “The New York Times:” STUDENT OPINION

Have You Ever Worried About Making a Good First Impression?

In a winning essay for our 2019 Personal Narrative Contest, a teenager writes about wanting to make the right impression on her first day in a new school. Do first impressions matter, or are they overrated?

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/29/learning/have-you-ever-worried-about-making-a-good-first-impression.html

Have you ever fretted and agonized over a first encounter?

What did you do to make a good impression? Did you practice witty lines in your head? Did you ransack your closets looking for the perfect outfit?

Have you ever truly bungled a first impression? Or, surprised yourself and won over the crowd despite your great apprehension?

What can you learn about yourself from these first encounters?

In “First Impressions,” a winning essay from our 2019 Personal Narrative Contest for students, Isabel Hui writes about a time when she hoped to make a good impression — and what she learned about herself from it. Her narrative reads:

When I woke up on August 4, 2016, there was only one thing on my mind: what to wear. A billion thoughts raced through my brain as wooden hangers shuffled back and forth in the cramped hotel closet. I didn’t want to come off as a try-hard, but I also didn’t want to be seen as a slob. Not only was it my first day of high school, but it was my first day of school in a new state; first impressions are everything, and it was imperative for me to impress the people who I would spend the next four years with. For the first time in my life, I thought about how convenient it would be to wear the horrendous matching plaid skirts that private schools enforce.

It wasn’t insecurity driving me to madness; I was actually quite confident for a teenage girl. It was the fact that this was my third time being the new kid. Moving so many times does something to a child’s development … I struggled finding friends that I could trust would be there for me if I picked up and left again. But this time was different because my dad’s company ensured that I would start and finish high school in the same place. This meant no instant do-overs when I pick up and leave again. This time mattered, and that made me nervous.

After meticulously raiding my closet, I emerged proudly in a patterned dress from Target. The soft cotton was comfortable, and the ruffle shoulders added a hint of fun. Yes, this outfit was the one. An hour later, I felt just as powerful as I stepped off the bus and headed toward room 1136. But as I turned the corner into my first class, my jaw dropped to the floor.

Sitting at her desk was Mrs. Hutfilz, my English teacher, sporting the exact same dress as I. I kept my head down and tiptoed to my seat, but the first day meant introductions in front of the whole class, and soon enough it was my turn. I made it through my minute speech unscathed, until Mrs. Hutfilz stood up, jokingly adding that she liked my style. Although this was the moment that I had been dreading from the moment I walked in, all the anxiety that had accumulated throughout the morning surprisingly melted away; the students who had previously been staring at their phones raised their heads to pay attention as I shared my story. My smile grew as I giggled with my peers, ending my speech with “and I am very stylish, much like my first period teacher.” After class, I stayed behind and talked to Mrs. Hutfilz, sharing my previous apprehension about coming into a new school and state. I was relieved to make a humorous and genuine connection with my first teacher, one that would continue for the remainder of the year.

This incident reminded me that it’s only high school; these are the times to have fun, work hard, and make memories, not stress about the trivial details. Looking back four years later, the ten minutes I spent dreading my speech were really not worth it. While my first period of high school may not have gone exactly the way I thought it would, it certainly made the day unforgettable in the best way and taught me that Mrs. Hutfilz has an awesome sense of style!”


Story # 3:


“Perception” – a short story by Parvathy Menon

Source: https://storymirror.com/read/english/story/perception/2tk3xmm7

«It was almost 12 :30 PM and the Coimbatore-Shatabdi Express had Erode junction. The chair car coaches were almost vacant I was enjoying the beauty of a daytime journey by occupying a window seat, leaning backward and looking through the wide glass windowpanes.

The platform was crowded, and I was just watching the moving population. It was at that instance that my eyes got struck on a lady who was busily coming out of a shop. She was trying to canvas the people to the shop by her pleasing smile and was talking something while moving along with them. I presumed that she could be a shopkeeper lady.

She was a tall thin lady with short hair and was wearing a cream and red printed kurthi with a black bottom. The left leg of the bottom was rolled up to the knee and I just wondered why she had done something like that. She was happily moving towards the people offering them something, inviting them to the shop and once they passed by, she just waited for the next person to come. I understood from her gestures that at that times she was asking them whether thy had their lunch, whether they would like to drink some water. I couldn’t hear what she was saying because I was sitting in a closed compartment. All that I could do was to see through the glass window as to what she was doing and make my own interpretations of that. I felt I was watching a mime drama.

She was even asking a police constable whether he had had his lunch or not, and in turn, he just looked and smiled at her. Probably, she could have been there since a long time and maybe that is the reason why people are showing a familiar face to her. A lady with her husband was passing through and she hurried toward them with the same gestures and smile. The lady just looked at her waving her hands and saying, “No.” But she kept on talking to that lady, holding her hands, blessing her, and moving along with her. At last, the man with the lady took out a ten rupees note from his pocket, gave it to her and moved away.

Well, I had a questioning look on my face…..Why?

On getting this money, she became extremely happy. She just ran into the shop like a small child, showing that note to the person sitting inside. While coming out of the shop, that note was not there in her hand. Again, she was into the same process. Welcoming people, greeting people, talking to them, bidding goodbye. Two-three people had again given her the money. I just had a feeling, something is wrong somewhere. She ran into the shop like a baby who had got a new toy, came out enthusiastically, looked at the sky, just raised her hands and acted as if she was going to fly. Then, she started dancing……Dancing in the middle of the platform. Dancing in an ecstatic state!

‘Dancing with joy’……. I had heard of this phrase but had not experienced it before. On that day, I saw what that ‘dancing with joy’ was. Still, I could sense that something was wrong somewhere. Why should a lady of her age do such things like an abnormal lady? Or is she really of that nature? Well, within a second or so, I got an answer to all my questions. She stopped her dancing, hid her face in her hands and started sobbing.

Oh my God! So that’s it! The lady whom I had presumed was a shopkeeper; the business lady who was smartly making use of marketing and selling techniques was actually an insane – abnormal lady. Whatever she had been doing was just her abnormal acts. It took three or four seconds to come back to reality and I again started watching her movements – this time with a new realization and a new interpretation from my end.

She wiped away her tears as if she had decided something; moved back to her old position and started her task again. Then, I saw her washing colorful sarees under the drinking water pipe; just soaking it in the water and taking it out, spreading it over the platform bench, happily coming back to talk to the people. Again, she started crying; this time leaning against the sink, looking up and down. Suddenly, she waved her hand at someone, nodding her head, telling them she is not crying. She waved her hand at them as if bidding them goodbye with the expression, “I am alright. You take care.” I eagerly turned back to see who that person was but couldn’t find anyone and then I understood that it could be an imaginary person from her fantasy world, or it could be some broken pieces of memories from her splendid or tragic past. She stood there with the impression of a determined lady who was ready to face the challenges of the world.

She again kept herself busy in soaking the sarees and I could not believe that she was not normal. She had that realisation in her mind that made her behave so naturally. She took a green and red saree out of the sink and sent to spread it on a platform for drying. She was doing that task with the seriousness and perfection of a homemaker. Behind the pillars of the platform, she was busily drying her clothes and I just waited to see what she would be doing next.

The train was about to leave the station. It started moving slowly. I tried to look for that lady who had entertained me for the last ten minutes. I tried to get a glimpse of her one last time but by this time, she had gone out of my sight.

I did not want to wave goodbye to her.

I did not want to gift an adieu smile to her.

I was not even ready to step out of the train to give her a few coins.

Then, why did I allow my eyes to search for that lady behind the pillars?

Within the ticking of six hundred seconds, that lady had got into my mind, making me realize how things could be changed and how perceptions would differ. And for that reason, may be my mind wanted to thank her and I was looking out for her. In that case, I believe it could be called as heartfelt thanks.


Now, a note from this author:

Let’s talk about the First impression being the lasting impression.

Let’s also talk about First impressions and Last impressions as being two separate entities, with an intervening period in between the two. In such a circumstance, the intervening period is of lesser consequence. The two separate entities – the First Impression and the Last Impression, just like the Beginning and the End, are what finally count the most. Make them memorable and worthy of remembrance.

Finally, let’s talk about how when there is only one impression, the First impression itself becomes the Last impression.

Whatever the impression might be, that’s what we remember. It’s all that really matters in the end. However, if the initial perception itself is flawed, it leads to hasty and wrongful judgments, on our part, of other people. When the latter becomes the case, it can cause a lot of problems to arise because it clouds our judgment of the initial impression. Whatever we might have perceived – or not – we must be aware that sometimes we could be wrong in our initial perception too.

Story #1:

At the outset, we are confronted with the image of a young man who, for all intents and purposes, seems to be a typical ‘nouveau-riche’, arrogant and spoilt brat. The image of him manoeuvring his highly sophisticated, branded, expensive motorbike as he weaves in and out of the traffic gives us the immediate impression that he is possibly self-centred, egoistic, inconsiderate, and indifferent to the feelings of other people – a braggart who focuses solely on himself and on his own needs exclusively – that’s what we, at once, imagine him to be. However, on a closer look, while he certainly shows himself as being impatient, impulsive, and reckless while he moves fearlessly among the crammed vehicles populating the street in a dense traffic jam, the observer is pleasantly surprised to see him being kind, considerate and generous of heart and spirit when he hands the six or seven year old beggar boy (who approaches him) one hundred rupees – by all means, a large sum to hand over to a child who is yet to learn the true value of money. Yet, in today’s day and age, when inflation has risen to an all-time high, it might not be such an exorbitant sum, as we initially imagine it to be.

Did you notice how our flawed perception led us to make a hasty and wrong judgment of the young motorbike rider?

Story # 2:

It concerns a simple lesson on how the first impression (which could have been immensely awkward and embarrassing for the student) was turned expertly and skilfully into a generous compliment by the experienced teacher. It all boils down to a matter of perception and perspective. The teacher, in this way, showed that she too had a striking style about her.

Story # 3:

The passenger (author) who is watching steadfastly the woman on the railway station platform presumes her as being a skilled businesswoman or shopkeeper. The latter was catching the attention of passers-by with her enthralling conversation – yet the author realizes that there is something amiss. This woman’s smiling demeanor and cheerful disposition seem to be too glaringly “off” to be true. There was certainly something wrong with this lady, the author soon realizes. In fact, it soon became shockingly clear to the spectator at the train window that this is, in fact, the abnormal behaviour of a person who is insane, or coming from one who is mentally unstable. It soon becomes painfully apparent that the lady is a homeless vagrant who is trying desperately to portray a happy picture of life – to avoid the picture of her sad life that is painted with all the futile colours of misery, hunger, and abject poverty. In this way, the beggar-lady hopes to erase the image of her splendid or tragic past. She tries to perform day-to-day activities, on the railway platform, as if she were at home doing the same.  We do not know the circumstances that led her to become homeless, but she valiantly pretends as if all is well with her. She tries to act as if people are being kind and considerate to her – but the hustle, bustle, and stresses of the fast life that we live daily barely allow us enough time to even notice another person’s pain and suffering. How selfish and callous have we become?

In the end, all the spectator really feels is heartfelt gratitude towards this stranger. The author realizes that we should not be hasty in our judgment of other people – we do not know what struggles and difficulties they are facing. We are quick to form an impression of another person, but it isn’t always the correct one. This first impression can be biased – based on our own circumstances and situation at that time. We need to keep an open mind because so much of what we feel and see is based only on our perception of it.

We need to trust our Gut Instinct, but we must consider the fact that sometimes what our gut instinct perceives as being right, could very well be wrong too. Be generous – afford the other person the benefit of the doubt. Give them a second chance to prove themselves – remember you would want the same to be done for yourself too!

Finally, what else is left to say? Make sure that your perception of a person or situation is right before you step forward hastily and make a wrong judgment. The latter casts an ambiguous cloud – consciously and unconsciously – with all the dealings that we might have with that person, in the present and foreseeable future. This fact is so crucial – you would do well to remember my words!




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