How bad could you feel when your freedom has been at stake right from the time you were born? Well, as a child Ruman did not think much about freedom but felt something stifling him all along. Neither did he understand why people around him chided him a lot, nor did he think he was doing something wrong. All he used to do was run around throw stones at birds, break the window panes and scream for no reason, and everyone other than him knew why he would face the consequences. At school he was punished, at home he was yelled at! His mom hardly understood why he would never listen to her. In his eyes, all that he was doing was merely for fun and people around him just loved to come in his way. His life strictly seemed to adhere to Murphy’s law.
It was just another day at school, and the teacher was happily asleep on her chair. She was about to fall off. Few of the kids were in the playground rehearsing for a skit for their annual day function. Ruman who did not get a chance to participate was among the “unlucky” ones enjoying leisure. He did not understand what was going on, nor did his mother expect him to know much, he was only four years old. It was fun time once again! Ruman took out a rubber band and aimed an eraser at his teacher and before he could enjoy the triumph of waking her up, he was sent to the principal, this time he would not be allowed to attend the annual day function.
To him this didn’t mean anything. All he knew was that some people were conspiring against him and all that he wanted was to take revenge.
On hearing about her child’s “misdeeds” recounted by the teacher, his mother’s anger knew no bounds. She had left no stone unturned when it came to taming her naughty toddler, but all of it seemed to be in vain. The best that she could do now was to ground him till the annual day.
Ruman was stranded at home for a week. He was quiet with nobody around him. Now he had all the time to plot his revenge plan, and of course, it was time to act like he had turned over a new leaf. He just had to gain confidence in his mom and act remorseful. He was determined to make the most of his first school day function. It was all an impulse which was driving him towards something colossal. “What happens on Annual day?”, he asked his mother.
Parents are great at being cynical when they speak to their children. “Well, there would be a chief guest and everyone would give him respect, and stand up when he enters. Then he would distribute prizes to well behaved children, and of course kids like you would never get a chance to meet him!” Wow, that was an expected reply from a broken hearted parent!
That’s all he wanted. He would need something stronger than an eraser this time. The hunt began.
Sunday-the most awaited day was all there. It was the day his life would take a turn! By evening he would be taking the world by its tail in compensation for the gloomy week when he was grounded.
It was sunset and the well equipped child sneaked out through the back door making his way to school. He patiently walked and walked and he was there just on time. He pushed himself through the crack of the entrance door of the auditorium. Luckily, his height made him invisible to anybody. There was” pin drop silence” that he had never witnessed before. He could see more bald heads from the back than anything else. There was nobody on the stage. The only person who had seemed to gather all attention was a man dressed in a suit standing with a microphone in his hand in front of the stage. It was time for the attack! Ruman pulled out his catapult and aimed a stone right at his head. Within the wink of an eye, the man was on the floor. He had a concussion. Policemen seemed to appear from nowhere. They handcuffed the unconscious man and carried him out.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction! All the people in the auditorium stood up and applauded for Ruman. For once, he had got what he deserved but he did not understand how or why. Then one of the old men whose baldness fascinated the little kid grabbed him and went to the podium. “Here we have a little David who slew the Goliath and saved all of us from the jaws of death”, he said.” Even ten policemen could not gun down the man who had bombs tied to him, when a little kid shrewdly handled him with a catapult. As a Chief Minister, I am going to nominate this kid for the National Bravery Award this year. Would you like to say something, child?”
Ruman grabbed the mike. “I’m so happy but I’m so confused. I don’t know why all this is happening. When I threw an eraser on my teacher, my mother was called and my teacher punished me, and now when I throw a stone on the chief guest, you people are clapping and taking me to stage!” The auditorium was silent for a minute, and then a few chuckles were heard and then the sound of claps.
Was it ‘mischief’ or did he just ‘miss the chief?’.....
The Blessing in Disguise
by Trippayar Sahasranaman Priyaa
For everyone at school, that Friday was the best day of the week. Their school was taking the students to an art gallery in the afternoon. Exams were over and the teacher distributed the corrected answer sheets.
“I’ve done my test well, I think I will get more than twenty out of twenty five in this paper,” Niket whispered to Ruman. Ruman smiled.
“Niket, you failed in history, five,” said the teacher handing him the answer sheet.
Niket was shocked. He quickly took Ruman’s paper and started cross checking the answers. He then walked up to the teacher’s desk.
“Mam, they are all correct but I have written the wrong question numbers. You can see the sequence of answers,” he said to his teacher.
“Niket, this is an objective test. So there is nothing like wrong question numbers,” the teacher replied. “You will have to retake the test on coming Monday when the holidays commence.”
Niket went back to his desk. “I’ve forgotten everything. I’ll have to study this weekend once again,” he sighed. Ruman patted his back.
The art gallery was filled with all sorts of beautiful paintings. There were natural sceneries, portraits of women, a village scene and many more. Each painting had a touch of elegance to it, and seemed to be carved out of reality. “Now I know why mam said that we were going to have a surprise at this art gallery,” Ruman told Niket. Niket smiled. He still could not apply his mind to it as he had to study over the weekend while his friends would gear up for their vacations.
A young man entered from one of the doors at the side. There was something so unique about him that grabbed the eyes of all the students. He had no arms, but his eyes were relaxed and his face was calm. He wore simple clothes and Hawaii slippers. He walked across the room and took the chair near the door. “I think he is the watchman,” said one student. “Poor guy,” said another. “Look at that man. He looks so calm in spite of having no hands,” Niket told Ruman. Ruman did not reply. He could not take his eyes off the man.
The teacher clapped her hands to draw the attention of the class. “Let me introduce you all to the artist who made such remarkable paintings, “she said. The young man walked up to the podium and started to speak. The students were awestruck.
“Hi, everybody. Great to see you here,” he said smiling. “I am Shakeel, and it’s by God’s grace that I painted all these pieces that you see around you. I am not that good at giving speeches, so I would like each of the students to stand up and ask me one question. If your time permits after every student has got a chance, anyone who wants to ask me more can do so, but let’s finish one round first.”
The first student asked him,”Sir, what happened to your hands?”
Shakeel replied, “Well I lost them in the earthquake that rocked Gujarat in 2001. It has been twelve years since then.”
The second asked him,” Since when have you been an artist?”
“Right from my childhood, but in my early days I wasn’t a great artist,” Shakeel said.
“So are these paintings very old?” asked another student.
“No. I have painted them in the last few years,” said Shakeel. “With my foot.” And then he picked up a brush with his toes, raised his leg and made a few strokes on the canvas behind him.
The students’ jaws dropped wide open. They looked at him in amazement. “This was the surprise,” said Niket in Ruman’s ears.
The session continued. Shakeel made some jokes and the students laughed heartily in between the questions.
When it was Ruman’s turn to pitch in a question, he stood up and said, “Sir, if you can draw so well with your feet, you might have even drawn better with your hands, isn’t it,” he said.
Shakeel smiled. “Definitely not. You see, before the earthquake took away my arms, I was a very small artist, and made a living by painting posters and banners on buildings. The day I lost my arms, I thought my life was over and wondered how I could earn without them. That’s when I started using my feet. Only after a few days, I realized that I could paint as well, with them. Within a few months, the paintings which I made with my feet were much better than those that I had ever done with my hands. Today, I thank god for taking away my hands, if He hadn’t, I would have never known that my feet could do something so remarkable. Everything bad that happens is actually a blessing in disguise.”
The students clapped for the answer. Finally it was Niket’s turn to ask a question. He had run out of thoughts. He stood up and stuttered,” Hmm sir, I failed in my exam because I had mismatched the answers. I knew all the correct answers, but still...Do you think that was also for good?”
Some of the students giggled as they found the question funny. The teacher stared at them. Shakeel replied, “Of course it was for your good. It is not the problem, but your attitude towards the problem that matters. Think that it’s a chance for you to brush up what you have forgotten. Remember, you never know what a blessing in disguise is, until you really try something.”
Niket smiled, yet he still wasn’t very convinced. However, he had immense respect for Shakeel and his attitude towards life just as the other students had.
Niket passed his re-exam. And a few days went by. He joined a camp when the vacations started. The children at the camp were of all ages, some younger to him and many older. The instructor walked in.
“Before the introductions, I would like to give you folks a small quiz, and the winner of the quiz will get a refund on his camp fees,” he said.
“Which famous personality proclaimed himself as Fuehrer, the leader?”
Niket raised his hand, “Hitler.”
“What is the title of the book written by Gandhi?”
Once again, Niket raised his hand,” My experiments with truth.”
“Tough one now. In which year did India fight her first war of Independence?”
“1857,” Niket replied.
“Remarkable,” said the instructor. “You have just won yourself a free camping experience.”
Niket remembered Shakeel and his wonderful advice about the blessing in disguise. “Yes, I rewrote my history exam for good,” he said to himself.