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 didnt 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 mothers 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 Marks 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 dont 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)