Every time the math exams loomed ahead Suraj would get worried. That is, until his uncle gave him a “magic pencil”.
Suraj jumped with joy. He was excited to know that his uncle was to spend two weeks with his family. Suraj loved his uncle. His uncle had never married and so Suraj was like a son to him. His uncle was a part-time magician. Sometimes, he would look at Suraj in astonishment, put his hand behind Suraj’s ear and pull out a coin. Suraj loved these tricks.
As usual, his uncle arrived with gifts for everyone. Suraj finished his homework early and looked forward to spending time with his uncle. They would sit on the huge swing in the veranda and spend time together. His uncle would talk about his travels around the world, his job as a travel writer and other things.
One night, Suraj was sad. His exams were soon approaching and he was scared of Math. Even though he worked hard, he always managed to make some silly mistake and score less than average. He scored good marks in the other subjects. Of late, he was a bit overwhelmed by the subject itself. He decided to share his problem with his uncle.
His uncle listened to his problem said, “Suraj, tell you what, I will help you but you should keep it a secret. I will give you a magic pencil tomorrow. I need to say a few magic words by holding the pencil in a particular manner. It has to be done only after 10 p.m. at night. The pencil will help you perform well in your exams. But use it sparingly. Use it only for your Math paper.”
Suraj could not believe his ears. “A magic pencil!” he thought. Finally he would score well in Math. That night, Suraj slept well with no nightmares about his Math exam.
As promised, the very next day his uncle gave Suraj the “magic pencil”. The pencil looked ordinary but Suraj knew that it was not. It had powers — powers that could change his performance in Math. Suraj studied with renewed vigour. A few days later, his uncle had to leave.
The day of the Math exam dawned. To everybody’s surprise Suraj was humming while revising the formulas. He double checked that the “magic pencil” was packed in his pencil box. Suraj found the paper easy and did well. He scored above average and his teacher was pleased. She even taught him a few tips to avoid the mistakes, the next time. Suraj rang up his uncle and thanked him.
A couple of months later, Suraj found that his pencil had become small and he could not even hold it properly and write. He panicked. He called his uncle immediately and when he heard his uncle’s voice he broke down and cried.
His uncle told him to calm down and tell him what had happened. Between sobs, Suraj told him about how the pencil was now too small to be used. To his surprise, his uncle began to laugh. Suraj could not understand what was funny and got irritated with his uncle for laughing.
His uncle said, “Listen, the pencil you are talking about is just an ordinary pencil I bought in the shop. There is nothing magical about the pencil.”
Suraj couldn’t believe his ears. “You lied to me? How could you?”
“The magic was that the pencil gave you confidence. And that was what you were lacking. You work hard but you do not have the confidence and that made you nervous and you made mistakes. The magic words are confidence and hard work. I had to make up the story of the magic pencil to give you confidence…to help you to believe in yourself.”
Suraj wiped his tears and smiled. He felt sheepish. How did he land up believing this story about a magic pencil, he wondered. “Thank You,” he mumbled into the telephone.