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Change of Heart

August 29, 2013 | By

Atul couldn’t bear to hear anymore. He rushed to his room threw himself on his bed and cried his heart out.

By Ramendra Kumar

Atul was feeling quite tense. Tomorrow was the election, one that he simply had to win. A student of V class, studying in the renowned St. Peter’s Convent, he was contesting the election for the post of the Head Boy of the primary section. His opponent was Samir Sharma. Both Atul and Samir were friends and good at studies, though Atul was of a studious nature and Samir more happy-go-lucky.

Atul had never wanted to contest. But his father Akash Chopra had other plans for him. Akash and Samir’s father Vikram were colleagues and competitors, working for Jindal Textiles. Of late, Vikram had been overtaking Akash on the professional front, leaving him a little frustrated. When he learnt that Samir was contesting the election, he urged Atul to take part.

River

Atul on his way to Tushar River

“Me, Daddy! You must be joking.”
“Why? You think you are incapable of handling the responsibilities of a Head Boy.”
“I think I am incapable of winning any election in which my opponent is Samir.”
“Listen, Atul. There are many other factors besides votes like academic performance, aptitude and leadership qualities.”
“But Daddy even if I manage to edge him out on other factors, as far as the votes are concerned I have no chance.”
“Leave that to me child. I will plan your election campaign. I know quite a bit about these things. During my graduation I was elected the College President twice in a row.”

And so Atul’s campaigning had begun in full swing. Akash had got into the act from day one, designing posters and banners and coining slogans. He had also given him extra money so that Atul could treat his friends in the school canteen. When compared to Atul, Samir’s campaign was a rather low key one.

As the day of the election approached Atul’s tension increased. Personally, winning or losing meant little to him. He would rather concentrate on the upcoming National Talent Search Exam but he didn’t want to disappoint his father.

The voting took two hours and the counting an hour more. By three, the results of the poll were declared: Samir had bagged 356 votes while Atul had polled 217. Akash was still hopeful. He felt Atul would score better in the other criteria and manage to edge out Samir. But when the headmistress announced the final result of the contest an hour later, Samir was declared the winner, totalling 703 points to Atul’s 529.

Akash was livid. He refused to accept the results. He barged into the office of the headmistress.
“Mrs. Williams I want to know the criteria you have used to decide the winner.”
“Sorry Mr. Akash Chopra. We cannot declare the criteria. The idea of this election was mooted only to give the children an idea about democracy. The contest has been held in a very friendly spirit. Atul is a very mature boy, I am sure he will take it in his stride.”
“Okay if this is your attitude than you will have to pay for it. I will drag you to court.”
Akash stormed out.

* * *

The next six months were hell for Atul. Akash went to court challenging the elections and lost the case. Atul became the butt of his classmates’ jokes. Samir had also cooled off a bit.
Then, one day Atul happened to overhear a conversation between Akash and his colleague Edward.
“Akash I think you are carrying things a bit too far?”
“What do you mean Eddy.”
“This election thing you know? You have problems with Vikram, that I understand but…”
“I have no problems with Vikram.”
“Of course you have. You are jealous of him because he got the promotion and you didn’t.”
“What nonsense are you talking?”
“I know it sounds harsh Akash. But you have no right to use your son to settle scores with Vikram. It is not fair on poor Atul. When the poor child, lost you should have accepted it graciously. Instead you made matters worse by going to court. Really Akash, you have behaved in a very childish manner.”
Atul couldn’t bear to hear anymore. He rushed to his room threw himself on his bed and cried his heart out.

* * *

A month later Atul was on his way to Tushar River along with his classmates for a school picnic. Samir, Atul and a few other friends decided to explore and went ahead leaving the rest of the classmates behind. Samir and Atul had put the elections and the rest of the mess behind them and were friends once more.
“Hey guys, why don’t we go for a swim.”
“Yes, that’s a great idea,” said Atul. Both he and Samir were good swimmers.
They quickly changed into their swimming trunks and dived into the chilly waters of the river.
“Come on I’ll race you to that rock and back. The one who comes second will have to treat the winner for one whole week in the school canteen,” Samir said.
“Okay,” Atul agreed.
“Be careful both of you, the current seems to be quite strong,” warned Usman, their class monitor.
They started swimming. Atul raced ahead followed by Samir in close pursuit. They were nearing the rock when suddenly Samir noticed a huge wave. Before he could warn Atul, it had picked him up and dashed him against the rock. As Samir watched in horror, he saw Atul disappearing into the waters.

He looked around desperately for some help, but there was no one in sight. He held his breath and quickly dived in. Atul was lying on the riverbed. He picked him up and tried lifting him up. Fortunately Atul was quite light and Samir was muscular. Inch by inch he lifted him up. Soon he heard shouts and felt several pairs of hands pulling Atul up into a boat. He looked around in relief.
“We are fishermen. We saw you going down and rushed in our boat.”
Atul was still unconscious, and bleeding from a gash on the side of his head. He was taken immediately to a nursing home, his head in Samir’s lap. Half an hour later, the doctor emerged.
“There is nothing to worry about. The injury is not very deep. Let him rest for a couple of hours and then you can take him home.”

* * *

Atul opened his eyes in the hospital room, his head splitting. He couldn’t recollect where he was. The last he remembered was being lifted up and crashing into the rock. He heard voices coming from the adjoining room.
“So, you young scoundrel. It was not enough that you beat my son in elections using unfair means. Today, you even tried to kill him,” it was his father’s voice.
“B….But Uncle..I ….”
“Don’t try to bluff me. Tell me, whose idea was it to race in those dangerous waters?”
“It …it was mine but…”
“Exactly as I thought. You had planned everything quite beautifully. Only God was kind enough to spoil your plans. Let me just get my son home and then you’ll se what I’ll do to you and your father.”
Just then Atul heard a door opening and someone entering the room. “Mr. Chopra you should be ashamed of yourself.” It was Mrs. Williams’ voice.
“What do you mean?”
“The person you are accusing of trying to murder the child actually saved his life. Seeing his friend going down, Samir risked his own life to dive into the waters and lift Atul up. The two boys were then rescued by a couple of fisherman. And instead of being grateful to this brave child, you are pointing fingers at him. It is really very shameful.”
Atul walked slowly to the door and peeped out.
His father was standing in the middle of the room. His face had turned red.
“I… I…. am sorry……terribly sorry…..Samir, my child….I hope you will forgive me,” Akash said pulling Samir close and hugging him.
There were tears in Atul’s eyes but on his face was a happy smile.
* * *
A few months later the Annual Day function of St. Peter’s Primary School was held. The headmistress was making a special announcement.
“Dear parents and my young friends, you will glad to know that from this year we are going to give a special award for bravery. This has been instituted by one of our esteemed parents whose name has been kept a secret at his insistence. It will be awarded every year to the boy who depicts exemplary courage. This year the award goes to Samir Sharma, the head boy of our school.”
As Samir got up to receive the award, he looked back for an instance. The loudest applause was coming from the third row where Atul’s father was seated.
———-
*The incident of a parent going to court to challenge the election for the post of a Head Boy is based on an actual happening that took place in a Delhi school some time back.

This teen story was first published in Meghdutam.com (between 1999 to 2002).

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Ramendra Kumar (Ramen) is a children’s writer with 35 books to his name. He has won 31 awards in the competition for writers of children’s literature organised by Children’s Book Trust (CBT), over the years. This tally is the highest by any writer and is thus a national record. He also dabbles in satire, poetry, fiction and travelogues. His works have been translated into several Indian and foreign languages. Being an inspirational speaker and storyteller, he is a regular at leading seminars and literary festivals. He is the father of two children who are bonsai celebrities in their own right. While Ankita is a youth icon and a travel blogger with an instagram following of 34K, Aniket creates cool Apps and designs covers for his Dad's books. Website: www.ramendra.in
All Posts of Ramendra Kumar

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<div class=at-above-post addthis_tool data-url=https://learningandcreativity.com/opportunity-learning-quote-albert-einstein/></div>Opportunity lies within the difficulties.  While solving a problem, one has to come out of disorderliness and look for minimalism.   Once the situation is minimalized (simplified), there will be a coherence which will then throw the light towards the possible break (solution).<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class=at-below-post addthis_tool data-url=https://learningandcreativity.com/opportunity-learning-quote-albert-einstein/></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->
Opportunity lies within the difficulties. While solving a problem, one has to come out of disorderliness and look for minimalism. Once the situation is minimalized (simplified), there will be a coherence which will then throw the light towards the possible break (solution).