Nervously, Aamir removed from his pocket the sheet of paper on which he had written his speech and tried reading. How does Aamir overcome his challenges?
It was once again August and the time for Inter-House competitions. This time Aamir decided to take part in Debate. He really was not looking for a prize. All he wanted was to gain some experience and build on it. Though he had participated in the Literary Club activities, addressing a group of 30-35 kids was one thing and speaking in front of the entire school was a different ball game altogether.
Aamir’s partner was Jeevan of Class IX-B who had participated earlier but never really set the stage on fire. Shantanu and his pal Ajay once again represented Buddha House, the reigning champs. Though Ajay was nowhere near Shantanu, he was quite good.
Shantanu was the third speaker while Aamir was the fifth. Shantanu spoke really well, marshalling his arguments very forcefully. When Aamir’s turn came, he walked slowly to the dais. “Respected teachers, my esteemed opponents, and my dear friends,” he started saying and then looked up to see a huge sea of faces staring at him. At that instant, Aamir’s mind suddenly went completely blank. He just couldn’t remember anything. He kept staring ahead. He could see some children giggling, nudging each other and even fidgeting with embarrassment at his predicament.
Nervously, Aamir removed from his pocket the sheet of paper on which he had written his speech and tried reading.
“Young man, this is a Debate competition, not an election speech. You are not supposed to read,” the Chemistry teacher Mr Ravi Chandran’s voice rang out sharp and clear. Chandran Sir was conducting the Debate competition. There was laughter which made Aamir feel even more miserable. He stared at the audience for a few more seconds and then walked back to his place. That journey of a few steps seemed almost like a mile. He felt as if every eye was boring into him and everyone was laughing at him.
He had made a complete fool of himself.
Jeevan too, probably affected by Aamir’s performance or lack of it, spoke quite badly. Buddha House topped with Kabir finishing at the bottom of the table.
Aamir skipped lunch that day. He couldn’t bear to face anyone. Sagar tried to counsel him.
“Look here, Aamir. It could have happened to anyone. You just got nervous. And, anyway, this is not the end of the world. I am sure in the next competition you’ll do much better.”
Gradually, Aamir got over the embarrassment but the hurt still remained. He very badly wanted to do well in Debate and Elocution. He wanted to go on the dais and mesmerise everyone with his words.
Aamir was sitting in the school grounds watching Sagar practice at the nets. He had just finished a few games of Table Tennis and had come to the cricket field to relax. Though Aamir liked watching cricket he was not too fond of playing. The only game he enjoyed was Table Tennis and he was quite good at it.
“Aamir,” Aamir looked up.
It was Rishi of Class X. He was very tall and skinny with an awkward gait. He wore braces and sported thick spectacles. Rishi was the school Quiz captain and a computer wizard.
He came and sat down beside Aamir.
“Aamir, I wanted to discuss something with you,” Rishi said in his deep voice that always seemed to be emanating from some unknown source.
“That day I was there during the Debate competition. Tell me how serious are you about making an impression as a speaker?” Rishi always spoke like a grown-up.
‘Well, if you like you can get some tips.”
“You? But I thought you were more into quizzing. I have never seen you anywhere close to a dais except when you are called to receive prizes for Quiz.”
“The tips you will be getting, in case you are interested, will not be from me but from my sister Richa who was the Head Girl of Saint Ann’s High School.”
Saint Ann’s was the best girls’ school in Hyderabad.
“Richa was also their best debater. When I used to go home during the holidays I watched her practice. She is now in college but takes active interest in the Debating Club in the colony where we stay. She took me to a couple of meetings of the club and there I heard her give tips to the youngsters. I am sure you too can learn a few things from her.”
“But how do I get to meet her?”
“Yes, that is a problem.” Rishi said and was silent for a moment.
“Why don’t you come home on a Saturday evening? I don’t think getting permission from the Princy will be a problem.”
“Rishi, I have a better idea. I am a member of the Literary Club and Sharma Sir is in charge. I’ll propose that we invite Richa didi to a meeting of the club. She can then talk to us and we can all benefit from her advice.”
“Cool. But you’ll have to invite her on the second Saturday of the month. That is when her college is closed.”
“No issues! We’ll do that.”
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