Students gathered before the notice-board as insects surround a bulb.
Might be some serious issue.
The annual magazine for the school was to be launched—the notice inferred. Students were welcome with their creativity—poem, painting, story, etc.
The magazine had become big fuss among the students. Most of them were excited about it except some who thought it a useless idea.
Billu, the young lad of eight, knew well how exciting it could be to see one’s name in the magazine—a matter of utter reputation. He had an idea that only famous persons got their names printed in magazines, or a man becomes famous if printed his name in a magazine. He desired to see his name in the magazine—but the difficulty was that he had nothing to be called as ‘creativity’.
He remembered his friend who used to show a magazine which contained his elder brother’s article along with his photograph. He used to brag about the appearance of his brother. If anyone asked (rather exclaimed), “Is that your brother?” His answer with arrogance used to be, “Are you blind?”
He received more respect than he deserved. Friends impressed would follow him blindly. He had also boasted that his brother lived in London and had a car having hundred gears that could move on road, float on water and fly in the sky. He also told about the red cricket ball that his brother had brought it from London and its cost here in India was beyond thousand rupees. He never let his friends even touch the ball; not to mention about playing with that.
Billu came home after his school.
“Mom….mom… where are you? Lots of things to tell you”, he shouted and ran from one room to another looking for her. When he found her, he told everything about the magazine in a single breath.
“Mom, I want to see myself in the magazine,” he said.
“Good. So try a poem or a painting,” his mother suggested unbuttoning his shirt.
“Copy a poem from somewhere?” a better idea with sparkling eyes.
“That’s not good. You must compose it by your own.”
“How can I, mom?”
“Very well. Lots of thing you have. Do it on tree or on mountain or on bird …”
“Or on old Kareem Chacha…”
“Or on your sweet home…”
“Or on a fairy of your tales.…”
In the night, his mother told him a fairy-tale. Usual. Billu fell asleep again in between the tale. She carefully replaced his head from her thigh to the pillow and left the room silently.
That night Billu had a dream that when he was writing a poem on roof, he saw a fairy sailing in the sky. He wanted to get her.
He threw web-clusters of Spiderman over her but she was able to make them inactive. He jumped from one wall to another and followed her. He swirled like Shaktiman but his speed much slower than hers did. Even the Batman-car couldn’t help him as the screen inside the car displayed.
No effort did he leave to get her. Failed every time.
Billu rose up perspired.
“Oh, come back dream! I want to meet the fairy! I need the fairy!” he shouted disappointedly.
At morning, he composed a poem about the dream—how he tried to get the fairy and how he failed. He read his composition, soon started singing it.
Billu showed his mother the composition before he left for school. She was pleased at the minuscule creation of the kid. She read it with interest, appreciated and suggested him slight changes.
The appreciation made him more confident about his name in the magazine.
While on the way to his school, he saw his neighborhood-friends, and shouted, “Mates, in a few days you will see me in a magazine!”
Soon they crowded him.
They were amazed and were curious to know how.
One mate said, “Billu, soon you will be big person. Will you forget us then?”
Billu was negative. He showed them his composition.
Another mate said, “Wow! It’s lovely. Looks like copied from somewhere.”
Billu got angry at this, broke off the conversation, and left them. Mates followed him and somehow pleased him.
Never had Billu thought of that respect from them. They always abhorred him for his poor fielding while playing cricket and called him ‘a lazy dog’.
Every dog has his day!
They started taking tips for composing good poems. He charged a good consideration for this and earned five rupees along with a Nepali one rupee-coin; some pieces of orange and apple and an old cricket ball.
The lessons lasted long. The mates also insisted to insert their names in the poem somehow. For this each one agreed to pay him five rupees.
Billu reached school half an hour late and lost his Hindi class. He could easily sacrifice the loss for the respect he got. He decided to submit his poem in lunch-hours to the Principal.
The bell rang for the lunch.
The principal was in office. His humming a melody indicated his happy mood. He opened his lunchbox. His wife had prepared shaahi paneer and chapatti for lunch.
He started having his lunch.
“Darling, you have magic-hands. Spicy smell! What a dish! Delicious! Pleasure in having it!”
He had almost completed his meal. But, when he put the last morsel of the food, got a bit of chili crushed in his mouth. His senses suddenly felt a bitter taste that made him maddened.
“What a nasty dish!! Nasty! Nasty!! Nasty!!! I never ever had a nasty dish like this, ” he shouted.
Soon he sweated from his face to his baldhead. He got his ears and face red. He needed water badly so he called the peon. He panted with long breathe. He had almost broken his computer-monitor in fury, had someone not interrupted. It was Billu standing at the door.
“May I come in, Sir?” Billu asked.
“In,” the Principal said still panting, “what’s the matter?”
“I…I have to submit a poem, Sir,” He said slowly.
“Poem? Don’t you see I am in trouble?” he groaned, took a long breathe and said, “by the way where is it?”
He took the page from Billu, read a couple of lines. He got furious to see a fairy-poem and screamed, “Outdated! Rubbish! You have copied it from somewhere. It’s rubbish. Get outta here!”
“No, Sir. I didn’t. I didn’t copy it sir. I composed it this morning. I didn’t copy it Sir,” Billu said more innocently than pathetically.
“You argue with your Principal? Get out, I said.”
Disappointed Billu moved out slowly.
The Principal folded the page and pressed it down with his hand; the page looked more like a ball and he threw it to dustbin. He missed the throw. The ball got reflected from the wall and reached the door.
The peon entered the office holding a tray with a glass of water in his tray. When he reached the door, got the ball kicked from his foot. The ball reached the place where almirahs were placed and slowly slipped in the space down one almirah.
“Why do you take so much time? Can’t you see I am in trouble?” he took the glass and continued, “Get outta here!”
The peon said nothing and went out. The Principal swigged water and felt relieved.
Half an hour later, a phone call came from the Editor of the Magazine. He asked the principal to write a Preface about the magazine.
He thought about an ideal Preface and started:
I am pleased to launch the annual magazine ‘Rashmee’. The central objective of the magazine is to enhance the creativity of the students and to promote their creative skills.
The principal cut the lines and wrote again:
It’s a matter of pleasure that our annual magazine ‘Rashmee’ is going to be launched. This is the inaugurating edition of the magazine, which strives for promoting the creative skills of the students, and certainly it would succeed in its major objectives.
The line “…which strives for promoting…” brought him half an hour back. He got his mind puzzled at whether his act towards his student was intended to promote any creativity.
His inner soul cursed him. He shouldn’t have demoralized his student, he thought. He fiercely hit his fist on the table.
He became relentless and declared himself an unscrupulous man—contradicting his own ideals.
He started searching the page he’d thrown. He wanted to see that composition. He looked in the dustbin—no page in it. He looked all-around the office; found nothing. He felt tired and disappointed equally. He called the peons.
They all searched but found none.
Suddenly the peon who had brought the tray remembered something had collided with his right foot. He guessed where it could possibly go.
The almirahs were displaced by the peons. The folded-page was finally found.
The principal ran to grab the page. He unfolded the page—random creases appearing on it. He read out the lines:
Saw a fairy one night in my dream,
Charming, lovely, divine and sheen,
Sailing like a bird in the blue sky,
Oh, could I meet her, could I fly!
Saw a fairy one night in my dream,
Having a coronet with a golden gleam,
Sheer magic she’d, I don’ lie,
Oh, could I meet her, could I fly!
When the principal finished the lines, he was overwhelmed with sentiments! He wondered how a student of Standard Three could write in such manner!
“O child, you’re the Little Wordsworth! Divine word choice! What a poem! Worth the starting page of the magazine!! Magical rhyming!!!” he exclaimed with an extreme joy.
The peons also began to read with him.
All distinctions between an employer and employee were forgotten.
One peon wheedled, “Soothing Sir, it’s soothing.”
The Principal continued, “Sailing like a bird in the blue sky, what a line. How ornamental! What a poetic beauty! What figure of speech! ”
He stressed his mind and thought which figure of speech that was. He just forgot the name at the moment.
Suddenly another peon interrupted his thoughts, “Sailing like a bird in the blue sky, what a line, Sir. A good piece of simile.”
The principal stared at the peon. The peon made his eyes down. The principal perspired and got his ear and face red again. He shouted, “How dare you remind me? How do you know simile? How comes a peon know about poetic beauties? Get outta here! Don’t show me your face again! You are fired!!!”
The peon couldn’t believe that happened. When he became conscious, pleaded but the principal didn’t listen. All moved out.
The Principal still grabbed the page in his hand shivering of anger. He looked the poem and groaned, “Fake! It’s fake! It’s rubbish! It bears insult!!”
He tore the page in the maximum possible pieces. Some pieces fell on the floor. He pressed down the major part with his hand. It shaped like a ball. He threw it to dustbin.
A perfect throw this time!
The ball swung open the doors of the dustbin, fell down, and finally settled itself inside.
By- Ashwinii Vatsaa