Sheena and the Writing Competition – Part II

Mrs Sood began explaining the rules. But Sheena couldn’’t hear anything.
The butterflies were angry butterflies now. She looked at the paper
in front of her and then at the topic: “An essay on writing”.

Sheena sat still. She recalled her father’’s advice but didn’’t know how to picture “”writing””. She closed her eyes. “”I love to write. I write many things. I
want to write more and more,”” she thought. But three sentences wouldn’’t fill the page.

The world, including the classroom, stopped to exist. Suddenly, her mind was full of pictures. There were pictures of books. Pictures of people writing. There were even pictures of pages being made into books. Sheena began to write.

““I love to write. I write lots of things. I especially love to write short stories. I love to write so much that I want to be a writer when I grow up. My writing will be in a book. People all over the world will read it. My father will be very happy. He has always told me to write. He is the person who has taught me how to write. If I can picture something in my head, I can write about it. My father keeps all my writing in a big file at home. When my uncles
and aunts come over, he shows it to them. I hope to become a writer so he can show them my books!”

“”Time up!”” Mrs Sood started collecting all the papers. She smiled at Sheena from behind her thick glasses. Sheena smiled back. The butterflies were gone.

When Sheena reached home, Father called. “”Did you win,”” he asked. “”They will tell us tomorrow,”” she replied. “Don’’t worry. The judges will
love your essay,”” he assured her.

Sheena spent the evening buried in her thoughts. I hope I win, she prayed. But with so many people…

Her mother sat down with her for dinner. “”How many students were there,”” she asked. Sheena changed the topic. ““Mom, these paranthas are delicious!” ”Mother understood that she was worried and didn’’t ask again. But she did say something. ““Sheena, please don’’t only think about winning. Even if you don’’t win sometimes, it doesn’’t mean your writing is
bad.”” Sheena did not reply.

The next morning, Sheena and Ruchi walked to school together. “”I hope you win,”” Ruchi said. “”I hope so too!”” Sheena replied. The butterflies were
back.

When they arrived, they found the students from the other schools present as well. Mrs Sood stood on the podium with a small piece of paper. “”Children, the competition was tough. Choosing a winner was
difficult too…,”” she began. Sheena did not hear anything else until Mrs Sood said the words “and “the winner is……”” Sheena waited. Then she heard a name that she had never heard before. Palash Ganguly.

Sheena heard clapping but didn’’t wait to see Palash accept the prize from the principal. She ran away, crying. The rickshawwallahs tried to stop
her. She didn’’t stop. She bumped into people but reached home fine. Her father greeted her at the door. He was holding a large package. He hugged Sheena who was still sobbing. “”See what I got for you.”” Sheena sniffed. She opened the package with her father’’s help. Inside was a book with blank pages! “You can write in this and have your own book,” he said smiling. He pointed at something on the cover that she had missed. The words “”By Sheena Ray”” were engraved on it!

Sheena was thrilled. She forgot about the writing competition and started writing her book. “”What should I write about today?”” she asked her father.
“”Butterflies,”” he answered.

First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group publication)

Killing temptation

The smooth chocolate on the cake was tempting. The enticing aroma of freshly baked cookies was maddening to her forcefully numbed senses. It had been two good weeks, she thought silently. “A piece couldn’t hurt,” she said out loud. The baker came out of his kitchen and handed her a deliciously warm cookie. She looked into her child’s hopeful eyes and said she would eat it soon. The baker returned to his baking, while the cookie died. Crushed, inside her sweaty palm.

Sheena and the Writing Competition -Part I

It was a bright morning with an ocean blue sky. The pigeons were talking
to each other in loud coos. Sheena woke up and shouted, “”Mom! Where are you?”” Mother came over with a big smile. ““I’’m right here. Now get up. Today is a big day,”” she announced.

Confused, Sheena forced herself off the bed while her mother opened the windows. “Mom, why is today a big day?” Her mother looked at her with surprise. Then she left the room and came back within a minute. “”Here,”” she said, handing Sheena a pink and white piece ofpaper. It was the day of the writing competition!

Sheena ran to the bathroom to get ready. She was running around the house when her mother mentioned breakfast. “”But, Mom, I will get late,”” she said. Mother didn’t agree. “”You need energy to think and write well. So eat first,”” she said.

Sheena sat down to eat her sandwiches and milk. Usually she loved her mother’s sandwiches, but today they seemed quite tasteless. There were butterflies in her stomach. She also missed her father. He was far away in Singapore for work.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the phone ringing. Mother picked up the receiver and said hello. “It’’s Dad,” she said, smiling. “He wants to wish you luck.”

Sheena jumped up to speak to her father. She listened carefully to what he said. “”Whatever topic they give you, just picture it — in your mind. You will then be able to write easily,”” he advised.

Sheena found herself repeating these lines to herself all the way to school. Ruchi, who lived in the same building, was walking with her that day. She kept talking about the competition.“ “Do you think Sohini will win
the first prize?”” Sheena did not have an answer. She was too busy thinking about what father had said.

Father was not a writer. He was an engineer. But from the day that Sheena could hold a pencil, he encouraged her to write. He always said, “”You write so well. Keep on writing. You will go far.””

Each time Sheena brought home an essay or poem from school, her father would read it. Then he would put it safely in a folder that he kept just for her writing.

Sheena wrote at home too. On Saturdays and on Sundays. She wrote essays. She wrote poems. Sometimes she wrote short stories. “”Dad,what should I write today,”” she would ask. Father would laugh and suggest different topics. ““How about a poem? On giraffes?””

Fifteen minutes later, Sheena and Ruchi reached school. It was a Saturday but the classrooms were open for the big event. Many parents were standing near the gate. Sheena’’s butterflies began to dance again.
She then noticed a group of children sitting inside a classroom. They were wearing uniforms that didn’’t look like her school’’s. “”Who are those people,” ”she asked Ruchi. “”They are from St Mark’s School,”” her friend replied.

Sheena wondered why they were there. Then she saw another group of children who wore jeans and T-shirts. “”They are students of International Academy. They don’t wear uniforms to school,”” Ruchi explained.

The girls continued to walk through the hallway to their classroom. Then Sheena saw the poster. She read every line and felt the butterflies
dancing faster than before. The writing competition was open to students
of all schools!

““I will never be able to win now,”” she thought sadly. There were at least 500 students participating! She had expected to compete with her own classmates. The teacher always gave her top marks. But now she was scared.

She thought of going back home. But just then, the school principal, Mrs
Sood, came and told everybody to take their seats. Sheena sat down. She felt sick.

First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group publication)