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.