Children

A change of heart

Illustrations: Sreejith R. Kumar  

“Manasi, you will welcome the chief guest with a bouquet,” said Ayesha Khan, the class teacher of Std III A.

An upset Sneha looked at her bestie, Arzoo, and made a face. Manasi had joined their class just seven months ago and was already the favourite of Ayesha ma’am, the science teacher Muthuswamy Sir, and the English teacher Susan ma’am.

Before Manasi, Sneha had been everyone’s pet. Whether it was minding the class, welcoming the guests or taking part in different competitions, she was usually the first choice. Manasi had spoilt everything. In her first exam, she had scored a hundred in Science. In the ‘Show and Tell’ competition, Manasi had edged out Sneha and bagged the top spot.

Besides, she always completed her homework on time, her handwriting was neat and legible, and she never failed to answer questions in class.

Sneha hated her. The position she had been enjoying since nursery had been snatched away. She tried to be nasty and mean to her but Manasi was always calm and smiling.

“Sneha, tomorrow there will be an elocution competition at Carmel School at 9.00 a.m. The topic is ‘India - the next sporting superpower’. Manasi and you will represent our school. Inform Manasi.”

“Okay, ma’am,” Sneha said.

As Sneha took the bus to her house, she had an idea. “I’ll ring up Manasi only tomorrow morning. I’ll tell her I couldn’t get through. This way, she won’t have any time to prepare for the elocution and will naturally make a mess of it. It will serve her right,” she thought.

A surprise visitor

Sneha was at home preparing for the competition when, suddenly, it started pouring outside. The doorbell rang and Sneha opened the door. Standing outside was a shivering Manasi, who was drenched to the skin.

“C…come in,” Sneha said and immediately brought her a towel. “What are you doing here in this rain?”

“Susan ma’am saw me as I was leaving. She stopped me and said, ‘Manasi, good that I saw you. I had given Sneha the topic for tomorrow’s elocution in which both of you are to participate. By mistake, I gave her the wrong topic. Your topic is ‘Nature is our best friend.’ Inform her as soon as you can,” explained Manasi. “I didn’t have your number but I knew the location of your house. When I took out my cycle, there was only a slight drizzle. I thought I would be able to make it. However, halfway through, it started raining heavily. And here I am looking like a drenched crow,” she laughed.

Sneha was unable to meet Manasi’s eyes.

At the competition

A change of heart

Next day, when Sneha met Manasi at Carmel, she seemed in quite a bad shape. Her eyes were red, she was sniffing and also seemed to be running a fever.

Sneha was the third speaker. After she finished, Manasi gave her a quick hug. “That was awesome.”

During her turn, Manasi spoke well, despite the sniffing and couple of sneezes. When the results were announced, Manasi had bagged the second prize; Sneha’s name, however, did not figure in the top three.

As Manasi went to collect her cup, the loudest applause came from Sneha, who was clapping with all her might.

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Printable version | Mar 9, 2021 11:31:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/a-change-of-heart/article33626297.ece

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