Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A breakfast to remember!







It was a fine Sunday morning. I had come out to take a stroll in the park as usual.  It being a Sunday, the park was bustling with people. Generally, people who don’t prefer to exercise on the weekdays; they make it a point to go to the parks or other fitness centers on the weekends.

The park was a riot of colors. Every hue of the flowers present in the park was resplendent in its magnanimity. The grass smeared with the dew was a soothing mat to rub your feet on. You could find all kinds of brands of sports wears in the park. These parks are kind of good observation centers for the companies selling sports merchandise.

 “Good Morning Sharma Jee!” greeted Gupta Jee who lived in the same apartment where I lived.

“Good Morning!” I greeted back.

“Where are Bhabhi Jee and children?” asked Gupta Jee who had come to the park with his family.

“Yesterday evening my wife and children went to the marriage of my Brother-in-law.”

“You didn’t go?”

“I would be joining them after two days, on the very day of marriage.”

“Ok…ok… so how is life?”

“There is a lot of pressure in the marketing department of banks these days Gupta Jee, things are not that easy as it used to be 15 -20 years ago. Now, job in banking is tough there is so much of competition.”

“I can understand… but the completion is also good for the growth of the economy.”

“Yes… you are a professor of economics so you can look into the things at a deeper level. But for us mere mortals a comfortable job is all we want.”

“ha ha ha … mere mortals…. I am also a mere mortal Sharma Jee.”

The sun was getting sharper with its rays. So we decided to go back. Gupta jee called out to Mrs. Gupta and children who were busy with the swings in the park. 

“Why don’t you take the breakfast with us Sharma Jee?” suggested Gupta Jee.

“Yes, Bhai sahib, it would be really nice if you could come over for the breakfast,” added Mrs. Gupta.
Since, I also wanted to get away from the hassles of preparing the breakfast, I accepted their invitation.

I got freshen up and reached the home of the Guptas’.  

Mr. Gupta and I chatted on the breakfast table over the issues ranging from political arena of the country to the education of the children while Mrs. Gupta was preparing the breakfast. Mr. Gupta also time to time went in the kitchen to help Mrs. Gupta in the preparation of the breakfast.

When the breakfast arrived, I got bowled over by the different kinds of preparations in the breakfast. And the intriguing part was that Kellogg’s cornflakes were used to prepare all the scrumptious items of the breakfast.

Be it the Cornflakes Malai Gujhiya, Conflakes MawaHalwa or Cornflakes Date Shake everything was so lip-smacking and marvelous. Perhaps I had had such delectable and mouth- watering breakfast in years. 

I thanked Mr. Gupta and Mrs. Gupta profusely for the breakfast and came back to my house.

I told about the toothsome Kellogg’s Cornflakes breakfast at Gupta jee’s house to my wife later when we returned from the marriage.  And since then Gupta Jee became Kellogg’s wale Gupta Jee for our family.

And after my first breakfast at the Gupta's I looked for opportunities to have a breakfast at the Gupta Jee's house at regular intervals. On some occasions my wife also accompanied me and enjoyed the mouth watering  Kellogg's recipes.
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

My Reasons for Happiness!







There are many things happening in the country that wear a gloomy masquerade. The news about ‘Rape’ in India is one of the major concerns and internationally people are using it to judge the males of India and overall impression about India. News channels and news papers are fraught with the news of ‘Rape’ everyday.

The pieces of information coming out on daily basis is really disheartening  but when I see scores of girls and women coming out of their homes going to their schools, colleges and offices defying all apprehensions of the dangers of the days and nights, my faith in inimitable zeal of feminine gender that can vanquish any odds gets reinstated. The indomitable will of girls and women to stare in the eyes of the dangers suggests that cowardice of some filthy mind can never have the last laugh in this country.  Every time, I see girls and women moving out of their homes in Delhi or any other part of the country for that matter, it gives me happiness and brings a smile on my lips. Happiness, because I see hopes in humanity being restored by the plucky pairs of legs that come out every day in the ring of life.

Every time, I see the news of cataclysmic floods, earthquakes or landslides devouring innumerable lives, my heart sinks. My mind starts to reason why the innocent lives had to stop breathing suddenly? My heart fills with the dejection and disappointment and I shudder to see the next day. But when I see a rainbow, it imbues my mind with immense happiness. Happiness, because the God, who can create a colourful painting using the colourless rainwater, can do any miracle. If the god can hang a rainbow in the sky without any support, then that God can very well support our lives and destiny with its invisible hands. And when the magnanimous might of God destroys anything there resides the seeds of life hidden in that destruction as well.

Whenever a traffic comes to a standstill and gives way for a ‘heart’ that needs to be transplanted in an ailing body; whenever a foreign- returned doctor cares about the health of the son of a rickshaw puller; and whenever bereaving parents donate the organs of their darlings to save the apple of eyes of others, it gives me immense happiness. Happiness, because even in the lap of adversity and luxury, people do not forget their basic human characteristics.

When I see children licking ice creams off their hands, smearing chocolates all over their faces, and giggling when they release the threads of balloons in the air I feel happiness. Happiness, because in this world when everything has become cosmetic and every expression of human beings seems fake, only children are capable of express pristine emotions of humanity.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Media and its mediocrities!



The media (read electronic media) in India considers itself intelligent and on many occasions it tries to be the real brooding brain of the society. On many occasions, they will make you feel that it is only they who are equipped with the grey matter to understand the moral nitty- gritty of the complex Indian society. They will always ask blaring through your T.Vs: “What are you doing?”  Many a times, they will make you individually feel responsible for all the chaos of the country.

But can you ask them any questions? No because you don’t have that mic and that glamorous channel. You are there to listen only! 

But you might be wondering that why I am blabbering all this about media. The reason is related to one incident that took place yesterday.

Yesterday, there was a piece of news doing rounds in the media about students of the tenth board cheating in Bihar. While I don’t want to go into the niceties of whether the cheating in exams as an act is morally right or wrong, I would surely try to go into the body language that the media persons across the channels had while reporting this cheating incident.

The media persons across various channels seemed to take a sadistic pleasure in the cheating episode of Bihar. They smirked, they derided, and they questioned the state of affairs about education in Bihar.
What is wrong in unearthing the rotten layer of a social life of the country? You might argue. 

Wait!

Now consider this, the same media applauds the efforts of a coaching institute in the capital of Bihar (that is Patna) for churning out IITians with its magical potion that it provides to some thirty students in a year.
Now here is the devilish dichotomy, you cannot at the same time make fun of the education system of Bihar for cheating and glorify somebody for coaching. The catch is that the coaching of IITs (or medicals or for any other prestigious profession for that matter) flourishes because we don’t have the rudiments of learning placed well in the schools and that is why we have to hanker after coaching centers. If we are given the right potion of education in schools then do we need to go to the coaching centers?

So, in a way, in the eulogy of coaching institutes lurks the dilapidated condition of the education systems in Bihar.

We have become a society that takes pride in KOTA(Rajsthan), Super Thirty(Bihar) and have tried our best to forget the roles that schools have to play, the roles the schools can play, the roles the schools must play.
So, showing repulsion through facial expressions on T.V channels is not going to make the situation any more serious, it is already serious and people who were taking part in the cheating subconsciously know that very well. 

The people of Bihar know it subconsciously that their situation has deteriorated from being the proud custodians of Nalanda University to hapless champions of cheating. They know that how they got reduced to Bihar from Vihar.  They know how the quality of their kings plummeted from King Ashoka to the present day care takers of the state. But they cannot change the situation that has to be changed by the force of the state. The education is a matter that is directly dependent on the endeavors of the state. If you are not lucky enough to go to the private schools then only Govt. is your care taker. 

Anyways, now what I feel is that when a society is subjected to depravity (of all kinds like thoughts and actions) for so long it loses its power to cogitate and therefore  even wrongs seem right to it and that is what has happened in this case. Students of Bihar consider the cheating a normal exercise. Why? Because they have seen people flourish in their state through cheating. So, it is ingrained in their mind that to progress in this state or for that matter in this country, cheating is the only recourse. Their mind is impressionable, so what they see is what they learn. 

But what happened to the erudite people of media, why could they not act responsibly while reporting the cheating incident? Why did they not blur the faces of the students (mostly were girls)? Even today you can find the videos of students without blurred faces. I think that by not blurring the faces of students they have also cheated the ethos of journalism.

 In the precipitancy to uncover the stink of education system of Bihar, they have bared their greed for a piece of news.  If the media houses are so worried about the cheating in Bihar, why didn’t they care to an extent where the regular reports were made about the ground realities of the schools in Bihar?

Only making one off reports that teachers in Bihar can’t spell the names of English Fruits or English Months doesn’t absolve them off of their serious responsibilities and give them license to make fun of the state of affairs of Bihar.

So, in this case of cheating, if anyone had to be belittled or embarrassed then it had to be the political process that has spawned spineless characters in political arena, not the children who were taking the exams. They are mere victims of the policymakers of their state.

Media might argue that they are only mirrors; their job is only to show. Then why this mirror refuses to show the defiled patterns that breathe under its own sleeves. There are many politics, much discrimination, and many games that make rounds in these glamorous media houses but they would always act as if everything is hunky- dory within them.

If they are really honest about problems of the country then they should take steps that provide the solutions for a problematic situation, otherwise they should not read news in the super animated style that gives us a sense that given a chance they will eradicate all the problems of the country at one go.

For media, reporting about the dearth of elimination facilities in India is only a source to win big and prestigious awards, reports of cheating in exams are just a source of promotion in the hierarchy, they don’t have anything to do with the future of the problem, they have only one thing to do with and that is the ‘present’ of the problem. The ‘present’ of the problem is good for TRPs, we are made fools by animated body language of media anchors that shows that  they are harbingers of change and that they are seriously desperate for change.

It is high time Indian media got out of grandiose gibber and focused on the substance rather than spice!

P.S: I have nothing against the coaching centers, it just perplexes me that why the brilliant brains that can shape the minds in coaching centers are kept aloof from making school curriculums that could make the learning as a process easy and graspable instead of intricate and unfathomable.
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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Together: A word for fighting out challenges of life!

The clock had struck 7 O’ clock in the evening and everyone in the office started to feel restless to go home. But the weather didn’t permit this. It was a windy rain lashing outside with the thunders emulating the emotions of bereavement. So, everyone in the bank was compelled to stay beyond their regular stay.

Varun also had to stay, but he was not mentally present there. I always liked him but could never tell him. You know there are some things that seem more logical and rational when they are left unsaid. And on top of everything, I considered Varun a bit haughty, so my liking for him was only limited to a feeling of happiness that I used to experience while seeing him. Otherwise, I was not a very big fan of his behaviour.

He was senior to me and he was senior to some five other employees and everyone was of the view that he was a snobbish person.

Anyways, the rain had let up and at around eight p.m all employees started to leave the bank. I also left with my friend Madhvi on her scooty.

“How is uncle Ragini?”

“You know Madhvi, sometimes I get fed up with his eccentric behaviour. He is not at all being able to accept that fact that mom is no more. On many occasions he behaves as if he has turned a psycho. He never takes his medicines for blood pressure on time. He never listens to the nurse either. He has stopped taking the walk in the mornings and moreover he seems to have lost all his interests in life.”

“I understand Ragini, but now you both will have to tackle the vacuum of the loss created by the departure of aunty together.”

“I am ready and willing to fight the vacuum but he seems to have resigned to the situation. You know Madhvi, yesterday he passed urine in his pants itself. It seems that he has lost all his interest in leading an active life. I feel really helpless sometimes. I cannot watch him dying every day,” I said sobbing.

“Keep patience Ragini, things will look up,” consoled Madhvi.

“Stop the scooty here Madhvi, I have to buy diapers for my dad.”

“Ok… sure!”

That night my father complained of uneasiness. The nurse, whom I had employed to take better care of my father, called the doctor and he advised to bring my father to the hospital immediately.

I hired a car and reached the hospital as soon as possible. There, he was immediately given the emergency injections to make is condition stable. After an hour he was feeling ok. But the doctor advised to make an overnight stay for his better improvement.

All the sudden happenings of the night had really left me exhausted but I didn’t feel even a wee bit of sleep.  Since there was rain in the evening, there was a cool breeze blowing. I decided to take a stroll in the gangway of the ward.

There I saw Varun. He also saw me. I analysed quickly that there must be some emergency in his family as well. So I went up to him and asked, “Who is sick?”

He kept mum for thirty odd seconds and said: “It is my sister… and what brings you here?”

“It is my dad,” I replied.

“How is he feeling now?” he asked.

“He is feeling relaxed now… how is your sister feeling now?” I asked.

But he didn’t answer and kept staring outside of the window of the gangway. I thought that his arrogance was again at play.

But then after being quiet for sometime he said “She cannot tell me how she is feeling... she is in a situation of coma for last two years.”

This piece of information made me feel ashamed of myself as to whatever I was thinking about silence of Varun.

“Would you like to meet her?” he offered.

“Yes sure!”

I went and I saw how a girl in her mid twenties (that is considered full of life) was lying lifeless on the bed.

“She is Ragini…she works with me in the bank. What you said? You like her…ok. ok… I will invite her on your birthday,” Varun kept talking to his sister in a way as if she was imbibing everything that he said.

Later he told me that in an accident he lost his parents and that accident made his sister go into coma.

During my stay in the cabin of his sister, I didn’t see any lines of impatience or hassles on the face of Varun. He was handling a literally difficult situation with the maximum of ease. Then I realized how impatient I was in my behaviour with my dad. Together Varun and his sister were facing the challenges of life head on without any gripes and grouse, whereas I was full of complaints about my situation.

Meeting with Varun and his sister, changed my attitude towards my own situation at hand. I started to see rays of optimism in case of my father as well. I handled my dad patiently and gradually he returned to normal. Now we go together to meet the sister of Varun in the hospital.

And yes I have confessed my liking for Varun as well in these days, because you know what, when you say things, situations of life seem to sound more logical and rational in comparison to when things are left unsaid.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Start of a new life by vanquishing the challenges of Mumbai Local!



It was for the first time that I had gone away from my village in Kolhapur to the hustle and bustle of the Mumbai city. I had the dreams of having a small job to support my family in the village back home. I was the eldest son, so all the hopes of the parents rested on me. I came to Mumbai with the hope that my friend who was already staying there would help me out.

After reaching Mumbai, I went to his house. It was a cramped room where some 10 people were residing. It was kind of a lodge not a house that he used to boast about in the village. He welcomed me and took care of me for two days. And after that he expressed his inability in taking care of me further. The city was scary and strange for me. So I insisted on residing with him and offered him some money (that I had brought from home) to share his burden. He talked to his lodge owner, who after much whimpering agreed for my stay in that ghetto as well.

My friend told me that he won’t be available with me whole day in my job search. He gave me some addresses in Mumbai and told me to use the Mumbai local to go from one place to another.  It was very day of mine in the Mumbai local. I was standing on the platform and waiting for the train to come. As the train came, a sea of human bodies got down from the train. I went back in order to save myself from the crushing power of that crowd. But I felt pressure on my back from back that propelled me into the bogie. It was really suffocating in the sweltering heat of Mumbai.

When I had to get down in Dadar station, I felt that some force again propelled me, I loosed my balance and fell flat on my face. Some people trampled my back and legs, some stopped and sat me up and took me in a corner. And then they also moved to their destinations.

I was alone nursing to my injuries. After sometime when the crowd dispersed, I moved to the address given by my friend. When I went for the interview, I felt that the eyes of people were making fun of my rustic style of clothing sense. Ignoring everything, I went to the interview room, I told the factory manager about my friend. He asked me some technical questions which I could not answer. I moved back to the railway station dejected.

Again I was faced with the gruesome task to face the ruthless crowd. Somehow I reach the lodge back in the evening. In the night, I was seriously feeling homesick. I started crying thinking of my parents and my sisters. I thought of going back, but the loan- stricken faces of my parents floated before me.

Again next day I went to in the search of the job and again I met with the same fate. After passing of the fifteen days, I was really crestfallen. Everyone in the lodge also started making fun of me as I used to come to the lodge bruised everyday by the local train tussle.

All embarrassment of not being able to get a job in the city and not being able to fight the crowd of the local train sapped all confidence of mine and I decided to go back to my village. I thought that I would do farming and try alleviating the loan burden of my family.

As I was about to board the bus to the Kolhapur, some voice from within me scolded me for showing my back in the testing times, for being week when my family needed me to be strong and tough. That time, I decided that I would start a new life in Mumbai and I would not show my back to the challenges of the Mumbai local.

I turned back and after a month I got a job of helper in a factory. Now it is almost a year and I have mastered the challenges of the Mumbai Local like a real Mumbaikar.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Pampers Diapers: A wonderful gift for lovely babies!





“Why is he crying so much?” asked my husband when we returned to hotel after offering our prayers to the lord Jaggannath at Puri temple.

“He must be hungry?” suggested my mother –in-law.

I tried to breastfeed my 8 months old son, but he avoided. I felt his bum but the diaper seemed dry. Then I gave him his gripe water thinking that he might be suffering from the colic pain.

“Give him to me, I will show him around the city scenes from the balcony,” suggested my Father-in-law.

But my son was relentlessly crying. Generally he enjoys being outside and being with people, but today I din’t know why he was crying?

“I think that he must be irritated with the heat of the sweltering summers, why don’t we give him a bath?” exhorted my mother-in-law.

And we did give him a bath and miraculously he stopped crying.  I put him on the couch all nangu- pangu only with a layer of talcum powder. I breastfed him and he slept a very beautiful sleep in the afternoon.

After my son slept, my in-laws went to their room to take the much needed siesta.

“It was my dream to bring my parents to this pious place, today, I am very happy that I could bring my parents to this place. Since my childhood, I had been hearing the wishes of my parents to visit this place,” shared my husband.

“Yes…they were really ecstatic when they saw the idols of the trio (lord Jaggannath, his sister Subhadra and his brother Balaram)”

“How about going to the Lingraj temple in Bhubaneswar from here?” asked my husband.

“But do we have budget and moreover we have train tickets booked for tomorrow.”

“Look, since we have come so near then why lose the chance to visit the temple? I agree that I should have planned for it earlier, but looking at the health of my parents I thought that I will take one place at a time. But now I have observed that tour to this place has filled them with new energy and they can visit this place as well. From Puri to Bhubaneswar it is just 4 odd hours ride. It will also be good for you too, you will get to see new places otherwise you are always confined in the household work. And for budget part ,I will manage you don’t worry,” explained my husband.

I was also very positive about the idea.

In the evening we decided to go to the beach of Puri.  The sea was really majestic. The guffaw of the tidal waves was scary and beautiful at the same time. The beach was full of different stalls with the sea foods. We also tasted some lip smacking delicacies. As we were making some shopping of souvenirs, my son again started crying and we had to make a bee line to the hotel.

I gave him again the gripe- water but again he did not respond to it. I don’t know what occurred to me that I decided to open his diaper. And my gosh! It was really drenched from inside despite being dry from outside. Now it dawned upon me that  in the afternoon he was crying due to the wet bottoms.  I had bought a very good brand of diapers from the market but it had failed to work.

Now, I had to do some brainstorming to decide upon a diaper that would remain dry from inside as well.  I went to a departmental store nearby the hotel and checked out the descriptions written on the different brands of diapers. When I checked the diapers by Pampers, it was written on the Pampers Baby -Dry- Pants that it could lock the liquid within the layer of the diaper and therefore would give the baby a dry feeling.

I bought and used it. And it really worked. We visited next day the temple and the beach of Puri again. And my son really enjoyed being in temple and at the beach. After Puri we visited Lingraj Temple in Bhubaneswar and other wonderful places like the caves of Udaigiri and Khandagiri in Bhubaneswar, and my son didn’t get troubled with the uneasiness of the wet bottoms at all. He loved the visits to a tee.

Our visit to Puri and Bhubaneswar became a memorable one and Pampers had a great deal of contribution in making the visits memorable.
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P.S: This is a creative account  


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Our daughter, our dosage of hope!

The sun was setting in the far horizon to rise again tomorrow but my heart was sinking as if to remain buried under the gloom forever.  My eyeballs were drowning in the flood of tears as doctors had said that he could save either my wife or my child in this intricate operation. They asked me to sign a paper as to whom I wanted to save: either my wife or my child? The question ‘whom to save?’ translated to me as if whom I wanted to kill. My mind resonated with the guffaw : ”whom I wanted to kill”.

I became petrified by the choices around me and I could not sign the papers. Now, doctors were on their own to decide upon as regards whom to save.

My wife Lata got pregnant after 7 years of our marriage. We went from one doctor to another, from one line of treatment to another, from Allopathy  to Homoeopathy . We visited all major temples of the country to find the blessings of omnipotent.  We had kept fasts, walked barefoot …but I never found Lata losing hope. I used to feel very bad when she used to be sidelined in the major family functions at the home, because she could not beget a child. She used to cry in the nights keeping pillow to her mouth so that I couldn’t hear her crying.

“Why …why is it that even a simple happiness of having a child is so aloof from me?” she used to ask me wailing. She loved children, and children also loved her. Children of my brothers were all fans of Lata but at the best she was addressed as aunt only. But she badly wanted to be addressed as a ‘mother’.

“I had told you several times that her destiny is charred…see even after getting pregnant she is not sure to become a mother… I told you several times to leave her…I would have easily got you remarried.” Quipped my mother, who had also come to the hospital.

“Stop this nonsense mother!” scolded my elder brother. “The operation is on and let’s hope for the best, don’t utter such ominous words at this time, Lata would be fine.”

My mother ignored my brother’s chiding and mumbling some cursing words to my brother turned her head away from him.

“Send her to morgue”, this sentence pierced my eardrums. In a fraction of a second I imagined Lata being stretchered away to the morgue. I didn’t want this reality to be mine, I yelled silently. I turned my head to direct my eyes towards the scary sentence. I felt a sigh of relief to find it to be about a different person.
In the meanwhile the room of the operation theatre of Lata opened. One doctor came holding a newborn baby in her arms. Seeing this scene my mind calculated that Lata is no more, I started crying and ran inside the O.T where I saw Lata lying on the stretcher. I went upto her and clasped her. But then I heard her heart beat.

“She is alive…she is alive… doctor please attend to her, she is alive.” I beseeched to the doctor.

“Yes …yes she is alive…who told you that she is not alive?” said one doctor putting his hands on my shoulders.

The whole dejection and struggle of seven years had devoured my power to think anything positive, and in the state of utter despondency, I deduced that Lata was dead.

As Lata opened her eyes, I got my senses back. One Doctor put the baby by the side of Lata and said “Goddess Laxmi has come to your home.”

My joy knew no bounds that day; I had become a father and Lata a mother.

I still remember that day as vivid as a transparent mirror even after 25 years. Today, we are getting our daughter married and seek your blessings.
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Sunday, March 1, 2015

My family , my mom!



It had been my dream to be a winner in the elocution competition during school days. On ‘Yearly Function Days’ at the school I used to feel very charmed by the prizes being doled out to the winners of elocution event. There was our senior, Sapna Mukherjee,who had a tremendous command over public speaking.  When she used to speak on a topic, the whole school used to watch her with their mouths agape in praise. Like all other girls of the school I also used to admire her panache and aplomb.

Every year she used to win the first prize in elocution. All teachers used to like and admire her a lot. I was in seventh standard and she was my heroine. I also wanted to be like her and deliver speeches like her.
When the elocution events for the next year were announced, I also decided to participate. I read all the informational materials that I could in order to prepare my speech. I was really feeling well prepared and confident.

There were some 30 odd participants for the elocution event. And they were all very prepared. I used to think that only Sapna is good, but there I saw that all other girls were also very talented and skillful at the art of elocution.

Now my turn came. I went to the podium. But when I saw the big auditorium (though it was almost blank) I started feeling uneasiness, my heart palpitation increased, I started perspiring, and my eyes went blank for few seconds.

“Payal …speak!” my teacher goaded me from background.

But despite my all eagerness to speak, I could not muster up courage to speak. After waiting for few seconds for my courage to be alive, I left the podium and auditorium.

All girls were smirking at me. I was really disappointed in me. That day I knew the difference between dreaming of being an expert at elocution and delivering the speech in reality. Whole night I kept sobbing in my bed.

After the auditorium fiasco, I was not that cheerful self that I used to be. I used to remain pensive and aloof. After one month or so of my elocution embarrassment, my mother intervened to know the reason behind my dejected mood. Since some time had passed after my elocution flop show, I didn’t feel that embarrassment in pouring out my feelings to my mother.

She listened to me patiently and said: “failure is the cradle in which success is reared…don’t lose heart dear…practice is the name of the game.”

I went to the school after having my breakfast. I was feeling bit lighter after sharing my failing with my mom. When I returned from my school that day, my mother had sorted out videos of all the great speakers of the world. She told me to listen and learn. She was brief but she was to the point. One day she took me on the nearby hill and after reaching to the top, she told me to open up and speak on whichever topic I wanted to speak on.  She told me to feel as if I was addressing whole of the city from the top of the hill. And I did open up that day.

Next time she told me to go before the mirror and take care of my body language. The swings of my hands, the moves of my head and rhythm of my voice: she taught me how to take care of all these things while speaking on a public forum.  She taught me how to master the art of keeping focus on your mind and cultivate confidence while speaking.

Next year when the elocution contest was announced, I decided to take part. I entered the auditorium. I waited patiently for my turn and maintained the focus on myself.  When my turn came, I went to the lectern, scanned the audience and delivered my speech laden with all the skills that I had learnt in the last one year. At the end of the speech the auditorium reverberated with claps.

Later I was adjudged the firstwinner of the elocution contest. My senior Sapna Mukherjee   also congratulated me.

I went home and hugged my mother. My win was the upshot of all the support of my mother. On the yearly function day, my mother was present in the audiences. I could see the moments of pride etched across her face when I received my award.

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