For Once, A Believable Superhero!

Submitted into Contest #48 in response to: Write the 'origin story' of a person who goes on to achieve great things.... view prompt



I am going to be stating the obvious, Aishu has a superpower. But she just doesn't know it yet. Now, you might want to ask me, "If she doesn't know it herself, then how do you?". Well, that's because I've seen it, felt it.

Once, when the newsreader was reporting an incident of gun violence from the television in the neighborhood cafe, I could see Aishu shifting uncomfortably in her seat. I turned to look outside the window, had a sip of coffee while watching the traffic and when I turned back, Aishu was gone. After half an hour, the very same channel reported that the accused had been arrested.

I didn't come up with any theory then.

Another time, when there was some news about poachers hunting some endangered species in the forest in our State, poof, aishu was gone!

After an hour or two, the police had nabbed the culprits.

This time, I couldn't dismiss it as a mere coincidence.

One day, I decided to watch her. When another disastrous news blared from the television, she got up from her seat and walked fast towards the other end of the room. I swiftly got up from my chair and followed her. I saw her enter the washroom and waited for about ten seconds before slowly opening the door and entering it myself. That's when I realized what had been happening all along; every time something unpleasant was aired, she'd vanish to the washroom, only to... cry her eyes out!

Yes you read it right. And that's exactly what I saw her do that day, cry!

In a moment, all the dots that my brain had joined to create a wicked theory vanished! They had been coincidences all along!

Despite my disappointment, I walked towards her, put my arms around her shoulders and asked, "Is everything alright?".

Apparently, she was embarrassed that a stranger had seen her crying. Yet, she blurted out,"How can everything be alright? There is a hole in the ozone layer, because of us, The Earth's temperature is rising, glaciers are melting the sea level is rising, coasts are getting submerged, all because of us. As if that weren't enough, we needlessly kill animals and also each other. Yet, we go about everyday as though everything is alright. How can we?".

Thus, she burst into tears again.

That was when I realized that Aishu has a rare superpower... sensitivity!

Now, if you rolled your eyes at me calling it a superpower, just take a moment to reflect on all the ruin that insensitivity had brought about in the past and all the damage our indifference is causing now!

When we go about our daily life as though everything is normal- using refrigerators and air conditioners despite the fact that the CFCs they emit are gnawing a hole in that protective shield called ozone; applying and reapplying sunscreen despite it's ability to damage coral reefs and upset the marine ecosystem; using vehicles running on fossil fuels despite their contribution to global warming- people like Aishu stand out because they pause to reflect. Aishu is a rarity, not because she has some superhuman powers, but because she acknowledges the presence of a very-much-human-superpower, sensitivity.

After Aishu was done crying, we walked to get ourselves a coffee each. While we were walking out after collecting our respective beverages, she looked at me and said, "Thank you for helping me by hearing me out. I feel a lot better after saying out loud, that which has been bothering me."

I looked at her and asked, "Well now that you know what's happening to us and since you are among the few who actually seem to notice, pause and care, what are you going to do about it? Just cry?".

She looked at me with hurt in her eyes and asked, "What can I do about it? How can one person clean up everybody's mess?"

"You're right." I said. "One person cannot do everything, but everybody can do something. It is never out of one's reach to engage in meaningful actions. You don't have to clear up everybody's mess, but you can try to ensure that you don't create any."

"Thank you." she said. "I will."


After that day, I didn't see Aishu in the cafe. Just heard about her everywhere. One morning, the headlines read, "Youth succeeds in converting public school into green school." On reading the article, I came to know that Aishu had mobilised the student community to make classrooms AC- free. She had also initiated the development of an organic vegetable garden in her school to reduce pollution from transportation and refrigeration.

One evening, Aishu was interviewed on the radio. During the interview, she mentioned the night at the cafe, calling it a turning point and referred to me as "the stranger".

Too bad I didn't tell her my name, I could've become famous too!

About four months after the radio interview, Aishu published a new book in which she had mentioned in detail, her experiences during the transition to sustainable living. It was an honest account and a much-needed guide. After reading her book, I couldn't help but transition to bamboo brushes and bar shampoos.

I even got the air conditioner removed from my house and developed my own organic veggie garden too! For once in my life, I felt proud about myself.

Thanks to Aishu, within a span of two years, all public schools had become 'green' and private schools were encouraged to join the initiative too. More number of people had taken to sustainable living and many more were in the transition phase.

Of course, the problems are not completely solved, but work definitely in progress.

But, trust me when I say that Aishu still doesn't know that sensitivity is her superpower.


Aishu is a superhero. Not because she wears an underwear over her tights and a cape, not because she can jump from building to building or fly to space, not because she has alien villains whom she destroys with her bare hands, but because she has given us hope.

She is helping us remedy that which we thought was beyond repair. She is helping us to save ourselves from extinction. She is helping us realize that this world belongs to our four-legged, tailed and winged siblings no less. And all this, she is achieving through baby-steps.

Hers is a superpower which, in reality, is in all. However, while we try to bury it, she does not. This is what makes her a superhero.

Look deep within and find your superpower too,

so that next time someone looks for a superhero to write a story, they will look at you!

June 30, 2020 17:53

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