When I was small, I really wanted to win a prize. It was not a big deal for my sister who seemed to bag every single prize out there in the universe. I used to look longingly at the wrapped ‘packs of wonder’ being handed over to her in various prize distribution ceremonies and go different shades of green with envy (let’s admit it, we were all jealous of our siblings at one or other point of time). Just thinking of being given the prize, bowing to the person who gave you the prize and to the thunderous applause of the audience made me ecstatic. Then there was this excited guessing game of what lay inside the pack. I was sure my moment would arrive and practiced in front of the mirror behind closed doors, how I would conduct myself during that moment.
So, I took part in a lemon and spoon race in my colony which is basically running a race by balancing a lemon on a spoon held in your mouth and not dropping it. I practiced and practiced for the race by running around in my house with the lemon and spoon like a maniac. My logic was that if I could run through all the rooms in a zigzag manner without dropping the lemon, running straight for the race would be easy-peasy (pretty smart, wasn’t I?). And finally, when the race took place I came first! I was jubilant and jumped up and down screaming ‘Prize! Prize!’. My mom handed me a pack of biscuits and glared, ‘No fries! Eat biscuits’. Huh? Apparently she had heard ‘fries’ instead of ‘prize’. Anyways, I ate the biscuits and did break-dance-like moments (which made me look like an electrocuted doll) right in front of where my sister was seated (Sibling rivalry at its best). She looked at me completely disgusted and rolled her eyes. I dint care, this was my moment. Finally ‘the moment’ arrived and when I went to the stage to collect my prize (my parents had to hold me back until my name was announced) they gave me a lollipop and ruffled my hair! I was so sure that was a just a kind gesture and they will hand me my colorfully packed prize that I stood there looking at the chief guest and smiling like an idiot. My smile vanished when he laughed out loud and ruffled my hair again.Ok mister! I get that. You are a nice hair-ruffling-guy. Now you might as well hand me my prize.Nothing happened. Then my dad came running to the stage and scooped me away (mind you, I was in grade 1), muttering a sorry to the organizers with a sheepish smile.Excuse me? They hand me a lollipop for running nearly a mile with a lemon and spoon in my mouth and nearly breaking my teeth after gritting to hold that freaking spoon? And then my dad says sorry to them? What in the holy hell was going on?
On the way back home, my family found me on the back seat of the car staring in utter disbelief at the lollipop. My sister smirked. Life was tough.
Crushed, I entered grade 2. It took all the courage and maturity of 7 years in the life of little UR, not to care when they announced the prize winners for that academic year in my school. I turned a deaf ear to the announcements, and entertained myself imagining different animal faces for the teachers. I was at the risk of choking with suppressed laughter thinking of my Math teacher with the head of a baboon when I felt a nudge from the girl next to me.’They are calling you’, she said.
I was too stunned to react. I did win a lot of prizes of different shapes and sizes but only in my dreams. So I went and asked a teacher what was it all about.
‘Oh! You have got the proficiency prize for class 1.’
Now what is this ‘profetency’?
May be it’s all just a big mistake. Later it came to my notice that I had scored well in grade 1 exams and was being rewarded for it. I was not very excited about it. Ok, I had scored well but it wasn’t cool enough for me. I wanted a prize for my hidden talents not for academic brilliance. *cough*
And this time if they handed me a lollipop and made an attempt to ruffle my hair I was all prepared to poke the guest with that lollypop and then lie on all fours and bawl my heart out. But they gave me a huge circular package all gift wrapped. I was one happy prancing monkey. It was much bigger than any of the prizes my sister had won. Impatient to know what was in it, I tore open the pack the very moment I stepped down the stage, only to see my face reflected on a huge steel plate!
Wait a minute. A Steel plate? Now who has heard of handing a second grade student a steel plate? No really, I want to know the motive behind that.
That steel plate lies in my mom’s kitchen and she uses it to serve gruel with a cute little story of her daughter who always wanted to win a prize. Bah!
And just so that you know, I hate lollipops and steel plates.