She told him that she loved him. Her hands shook while she said the words. He didn’t smile. His eyes said sorry and his mouth managed to explain how his heart was already taken. She wiped her eyes and asked,”Can I write a poem for you?” He said yes. As she turned away, he began to read the poem. His soul was stirred.
“Quick, it’s almost midnight!” Rishi’s friends were tired of waiting. They had all declared their New Year’s Resolutions weeks ago. Only Rishi had no idea about his resolutions. Every time that they asked him, he just shrugged.
“Come on, Rishi,” pouted his best friend Shelly. She and Raja had the same resolutions for 2016: they had both promised to eat less chocolate and also to stop eating up Rishi’s tiffin every day. Most days the poor boy ended up with just half a roti and a bite of potato. Still, he never complained.
Rishi was happy when they were interrupted with shouting from the living room. “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1…,” their parents screamed out. Shelly and Raja ran out of the room to go wish everybody. Rishi didn’t follow. “It’s already the New Year and I cannot tell anybody about my one and only resolution because they’ll laugh at me. He looked out of the window and saw fireworks.
Shelly and Raja returned with their parents in tow. “You don’t want to wish us a Happy New Year, Rishi?” They hugged him. He tried to smile as his mom handed him a piece of fruit cake.
Later that night, after the others had gone home, Rishi decided to talk to his mom. “Mom will never laugh at me,” he thought.
In her room, she was getting ready for bed. Father was already fast asleep. “Mom, I can’t make my New Year’s resolution this year.” Mom asked why.
“Because it’s too silly,” replied Rishi, looking down at the floor. Mom took his hand and patted the seat next to her. “Resolutions can never be silly. Tell me what you want to promise yourself this year,” she asked with a big smile.
“I want to be a teacher,” he blurted out. Then he felt like hiding under the bed. But his mom was not laughing. She looked interested to hear more.
“What subject do you wish to teach? And who will your students be,” his mom asked him.
Rishi knew the answer to the second part of the question. “I want to teach Shona and Subhash,” he answered. Shona and Subhash were the friendly cook’s children. They were Rishi’s age but could not afford to go to school after their father had passed away.
Rishi’s mom was happy to hear this. “That would be wonderful. You could teach them basic things like the English alphabet and addition and subtraction and also how to use the computer for things like email and Google searches.”
Rishi got more and more excited as his mom spoke. “Could we make paper crafts too?” he asked. Mom nodded. Then he told her about the last part of his New Year’s resolution – he wanted to teach the two children now until the next school year began. “Mom, we can send them to school then, can we please?” I will make sure that they’re ready,” he added.
Mom said yes.
The next day, she and Rishi got the classroom ready with a big blackboard, chalk, bright coloured chairs and a big table. There were crayons and coloured pencils and lots of drawing books too. When Shona and Subhash came for their first day of school, Rishi felt
himself turn as red as a tomato because they greeted him as “Teacher”.
“Call me Rishi,” he said. “Your friend who will try to teach you a few things.”
First published in TeleKids (An ABP Group publication)
He touched her face as if he’d never see it again. She felt his love through the warm palm and fingers. They called out his flight number, prompting him to end the moment. They held each other close for a long minute, promising to stay committed forever. As she was leaving the airport in a cab, she got a phone call that dried her eyes; his flight had been cancelled.