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Friday, December 15, 2017

I never stood a chance, Did I?





“I never stood a chance, did I?” I asked Shalu, my friend from school days whom I accidentally met at the railway station after a gap of 20 long years. And we were reminiscing the good old days as we both boarded the same train heading to the same destination.
Shalu smiled - that pretty smile which was her tool, her accessory, her weapon, and her charm.  In short her ticket to a lot of things which lesser mortals like me had to work twice as hard for those very things.
Her smile seemed to say, “Yes, you are right”. I could tell by the way she smiled -  half in pride and half in arrogance.  But her words contradicted her smile, “Not really Niki,” she said somewhat kindly, as if to compensate for my lack of chance, “You excelled in other things like elocution and creative writing stuff which I could never do and did not even participate in”
But I knew better. I said, “Come on Shalu you are being polite. We all know you were the one who was always selected for all the dramas and dances for the school annual day. In fact you were the first preference and were given the main role.”
She was tall, fair, had long tresses, good features and her smile. The smile was an instant click. Her looks and the added bonus of the lovely smile ensured she was everyone’s favourite.
And I, short, dusky and a little bit on the plump side never stood a chance. I was left to myself when most of the girls did rehearsals for the big day. But this had its positive points. I took to books and became a voracious reader. So much that I did not stop even when I got glasses.
And so when it was time for the competitions especially for essay writing; elocution; debate and pick and speak competitions I would simply jump to participate. And I won always. I felt happy but would have felt happier if Shalu too had participated and lost. But Shalu would not even bother to participate in these competitions.
Shalu was a winner anyway without even participating in these competitions. She would be on the stage in at least 3 events and all parents would notice the pretty girl with the lovely smile. I too had my proud moments when I would walk up the stage to receive my prizes but still somewhere the snake of envy would hiss and instead of being elated I would envy Shalu.
I had more reasons to envy Shalu because she was my immediate neighbor too. And my parents would praise her, my sisters would praise her, my brothers would go gaga over her just as the neighbourhood boys did.
After we passed out of class 10 and thankfully Shalu and her family moved to a different place and I learnt to value myself and my talents. And by the time I was graduating and was in my teens the mirror told me I was not really that bad. I was looking good too. Even with my glasses. ‘But not good as Shalu,’ the snake hissed again.    But I silenced it and enjoyed my life and eventually carved a path for myself in the career I chose.
And now after meeting Shalu and while discussing school days and the bygone memories I had to face the truth and say, “I never really stood a chance against you”.
Even now when she told me she was married to Pradeep, the handsome hunk in our neighborhood who was 2 years older to us and all us girls had a crush on I realized, I really never stood a chance. Shalu was in touch with Pradeep even after leaving the town and their love blossomed and they eventually married.
I had long forgotten Pradeep after his family shifted the locality. But come to think of it, Shalu got him simply because she was the pretty girl who stole hearts with her charming smile.
Shalu said, “You know, Niki I always envied you for your eloquence, the powerful debates you gave and how in a few minutes you came up with good points in the extempore. You were one intelligent girl. And look where you are now today. An established widely read author! I am a fan of your writing dear”
Shalu was smiling her pretty smile while I looked at her with my mouth agape for a second and quickly recovered myself.
“I too attempted at writing,” Shalu confessed “but I know with writers like you in the arena I will not stand a chance. So I just write my private journal.”
Should I feel vindicated?  I was not really happy that Shalu was not confident of herself. We exchanged our addresses and promised to meet soon as we now lived not far from each other. And then I would talk Sahlu into taking up her pen, I decided. Everyone has a chance, everyone gets a chance once. All we have to do is try, never give up and be on the look for channelizing our energies in the right direction - the direction of our dreams.
True I never stood a chance as against Shalu. But I got the chance to be me.
  ‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’ 
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