“What is your New Year’s resolution, Sudeep?”
Sudeep stared back at his teacher in silence. Reshmi nudged him with her elbow. But he had no answer to the question. Finally, Miss Mukherjee broke the silence. “Sudeep, what are you promising yourself to do or not do in the New Year?”
Reshmi blurted out: Teacher, he has decided to stop eating chocolate from January 1st.
Sudeep jumped up at the word “chocolate”. He looked angrily at Reshmi. Then he grinned at his teacher and said, “No, Miss Mukherjee. I can never give up chocolate. And I don’t need to either because no matter how much I eat, I stay thin.”
Miss Mukherjee laughed. She repeated her question. “What is your New Year’s resolution?”
Sudeep scratched his head for a second before he replied. “My resolution is to stop making fun of Reshmi’s front teeth.”
Reshmi was shocked. Their teacher was happy. She said, “I’m glad to hear that, Sudeep. Good luck!”
The next week went on as usual — Sudeep teased Reshmi, calling her “rabbit” and drawing cartoons of her with huge teeth. Reshmi was used to it but some days it upset her very much.
One day she tried to get even with him by reminding him about his big stomach. “Sudeep, look at your tummy. It’s making you look like a pumpkin.” Sudeep looked down at his belly. He grinned, “It is smaller than your teeth!”
The winter holidays came. Sudeep forgot about Reshmi’s teeth for three weeks. When they returned to school, everybody waited eagerly to see if Sudeep would stick to his New Year’s resolution. Miss Mukherjee wished that he’d stop making Reshmi feel so bad so she was hopeful too.
Sudeep seemed to remember his promise. He was nice to Reshmi. In fact, he was sweet enough to share his lunch with her. He even sharpened her pencils for her. She was surprised. Miss Mukherjee noticed something though. Sudeep was speaking oddly. He was hardly opening his mouth. And even when he did, he covered it with his hand. When the class photograph was being taken, he smiled with his mouth closed. She watched him for a few days.
Then she had an idea. “Class, I’m going to teach you a song today.” She asked the students to sing the song together. As the room filled with voices, she noticed Sudeep’s wide open mouth. So this was why he wasn’t speaking properly or teasing Reshmi! Two teeth were missing from the top of his mouth.
Once the singing stopped, Miss Mukherjee called Sudeep over and asked what happened to his teeth. “Miss, they fell out. Mom said new teeth will come soon.” The teacher grinned. “Sudeep! This happens to everybody. So there’s no need to hide your mouth!”
Sudeep looked down at his feet in shame. “I have made Reshmi feel bad so many times. I’m sorry now,” he said softly. Miss Mukherjee patted his shoulder and said, “Go tell Reshmi you’re sorry. She will forgive you.”
Sudeep did say sorry. He also showed Reshmi the part of his mouth with missing teeth. “At least I have teeth there!” Reshmi giggled. Sudeep felt brave enough to smile.
(First published in Telekids – an ABP Group publication)