Aamir’s faces his toughest challenges – English Elocution and Shantanu – together. What will happen? Of course Sagar is there to cheer him on!
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In spite of the pressure of academics, Aamir decided to take part in the Inter House Competitions. He gave his name for Elocution as well as Debate. In the Debate competition his partner was Ratan, Jeevan having opted out.
The topic for the elocution competition was ‘Why can a nation of 1.3 billion not get an individual Olympic Gold?’ It had been given two days before the competition and Aamir had enough time to prepare. He took the help of Sharma Sir and Ghosh Sir who taught social studies and were very well-read. Aamir wrote the speech in his own words and peppered it with a couple of case studies.
When he went on the dais and looked at the crowd the all too familiar fear hit him. He felt he was sinking into a bottomless pit and the only way out was to turn and run. He closed his eyes for an instant and then opened them. He looked for Sagar and found him exactly where Aamir had requested him to be. Sagar made a thumbs up sign and smiled encouragingly.
“I had gone with my father to Fatehpur Sikri a couple of years ago. There I found young kids jumping from a tower into a well for a few coins. If these youngsters are picked up and trained, don’t you think they will give the Mark Spitz and the Greg Louganis’s of the world a tough run for their money? They will. But I am sure they will never be picked up and we will continue to hold debates over the lack of gold medals,” Aamir paused, his eyes sweeping across the jam-packed hall. He knew he had the complete attention of the audience.
“Honourable judges, respected teachers and my dear friends, since independence we have been trying to infuse the spirit of sports in our politics. But alas! We have only succeeded in infusing the miasma of politics in our sports. And this is the reason why, when a country with a population of less than a million walks away with an Olympic Gold, our country with a 1300 million people is still dreaming of winning an individual gold medal.”
As Aamir looked at the friendly faces in the crowd he could almost sense their approval. His confidence grew and he continued. Three minutes later as he finished and walked back there was generous applause and Aamir was on cloud nine.
“Good show. Now let’s wait for Shantanu,” Sagar said.
Shantanu, who was two speakers after Aamir, once again spoke well.
“I think you will give a good fight to Shantanu but he still has the edge,” Sagar said.
He turned out to be right. Shantanu got the top spot followed by Aamir and Ajay both bagging the second position.
Aamir was thrilled and was looking forward to the Debate competition, which was three days later.
The topic of the debate was ‘We would be better off without religion.’
Aamir decided to oppose the motion while Ratan was to speak for the topic. Both worked hard on their speeches. This topic being very close to Aamir’s heart, he decided to really go all out.
Ratan was the third speaker and spoke quite well. Aamir was next. This time he started with an Urdu couplet which spoke about the greatness of God. As his voice rang out crisp and clear and as the beautiful words wafted across the hall, the entire ambience suddenly seemed to change. All eyes were now on him as he started chipping away at the arguments of his opponents and then building his own case for religion and God.
Sagar watched mesmerised. He couldn’t believe that this was the same Aamir who little more than a year ago had stood on this dais opening and shutting his mouth like a goldfish and turning redder with embarrassment with each passing moment. He now looked a picture of confidence as he modulated his voice and put forth his arguments with immaculate ease. Aamir ended his speech with lines from a Hindi bhajan. When he stepped down the applause was thunderous.
Sagar looked at Shantanu. He had turned pale. For the first time in three years there was a possibility of the best speaker title eluding him.
Shantanu spoke well but it was clear he was not at his best. Aamir’s performance seemed to have unnerved him a bit.
When the results were announced, Kabir House stood second while Buddha House had edged past to bag the top spot for the third year in a row. However, there had been an upset as far as the best speaker award was concerned. Aamir Hussain of Kabir House had dethroned Shantanu.
When the results were announced Shantanu had walked out in a huff followed by his cronies.
Sagar hugged Aamir, “My God, Aamir this is unbelievable! Once you make up your mind, I am sure you can achieve anything. Now I am convinced if you take up cricket you’ll replace me in the team!”
A month later Aamir was sitting in the library and going through some reference books for his science project.
“Aamir.” It was Shantanu.
“Can I speak to you for a few minutes?”
“Sure. It is a free country isn’t it?” Aamir said.
Shantanu sat down. Young Orators Club is organising a Debate competition for school students on the 17th of this month. This is the toughest competition in the debating circuit. Will you be my partner?”
“What?” Aamir almost fell off his chair.
Shantanu, who had been ridiculing, sniping at and insulting Aamir from day one, was actually asking him to be his partner in a Debate competition!
“Yes, I’m serious.”
“But Shantanu what about Ajay, your regular partner.”
“You are better than he is.”
“But he is your friend and both of you have been a team for so long.”
“Come on, Aamir. Where does friendship come into this? We have to learn to be professional in our approach. Since we two are the best debaters in our school, we should form a team and compete. Like I told you, this competition is a truly prestigious one. Our school has never made it even to the top three. But if you partner me, I am sure we have a good chance to make a mark.”
Aamir thought for some time and then nodded.
“Okay, I am game.”
The competition was a really tough one. Much tougher than Aamir could ever have imagined. TPS bagged the runners-up position while Shantanu won the Best Debater Award.
In the next Debate competition organised by the YMCA, the TPS team bagged the top spot with Aamir being declared the best speaker.
Read on to Chapter 25
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