A short story for kids.
Heard the latest goss?' Annie squealed as soon as she saw me. When I shook my head in negative, Annie proceeded to spill the beans. But, the bell rang for the first period and we entered the classroom. Whatever Annie had to say, was important, because unmindful of Ms Aarti's watchful eyes she turned back to whisper.
'No whispering Annie. Or you and Shweta will have to leave the class and continue talking in the corridor,' said Ms Aarti sternly.
Annie settled down, but I could tell she was bursting to share the news. At break, Annie, Ira and Divya spoke all at the same time. It sounded something like this, 'Karishma...nnsuisususcomingtoschool'. I could only catch the name, Karishma.
'What about Karishma?' I asked.
'Karishma is coming back. Don't look so blank!' Annie exclaimed.
Karishma, the school scholar, who had relocated to Hyderabad last year, would be joining again. I had joined my present school after she left, and so had not met Karishma. But, I had heard a lot about her. Scholar, brainy, multi-tasker, versatile, brilliant – you could add any adjective to her persona and it would suit her. She was truly the wonder kid, just like her name.
In a week's time, Karishma started school and I realised that nothing was impossible for her. She excelled at all. A few days later, during the break, Ira looked a little upset. Her position as class topper was now threatened. Even Divya, a graceful dancer and sought by all the teachers to perform at school functions, looked worried. Karishma with a little guidance could match her steps!
I didn't like the look of them and to cheer to my friends, I said, 'Nothing is impossible you know. Karishma is not a superhuman. She must be average or bad at something.'
Annie quickly replied, 'Find out what Karishma is weak at, and we will do whatever you say. Challenge!'
I was forced to accept the challenge. In a month's time, I realised that my friends were right. Karishma had no chink in her armour. And, frankly, it was difficult to hate her or envy her, because Karishma was pleasant and helpful.
I had almost accepted defeat, when most unexpectedly, I discovered Karishma's secret.
After writing our first term exams, we soon got involved in various competitions before school closed for Diwali vacations. I was a a part of the team making wall paintings along with Karishma. I happened to spill colours on floor and my brush also broke.
Karishma shared her brushes with me and also offered her paintbox.
I forgot to hand her brushes after we finished with the painting and so went over to her house in the evening. Annie and her dog, Sheru, joined me. We met Karishma, who was watering plants in the garden, but instead of waving or greeting us, she just stood still. After Sheru, the big, friendly lab, rushed towards Karishma, she went white in her face. and the water hose hung limp in her hand.
Annie pulled back Sheru, and a trembling Karishma sank in the grass. She began weeping, while Annie and I looked at each other. In between hiccups, Karishma revealed, 'I am scared of dogs, after one Daschund pup bit me. He was being friendly, but I ran and he too chased me.'
I patted her on the back and Annie apologised for Sheru. But Karishma continued sobbing.
'I wish I could overcome this phobia. I have tried several times. It's too embarrassing, when I am around dog owners,' she explained teary-eyed.
My mind was in a swirl. I knew if I revealed Karishma's secret to others, I would win the challenge. But, wasn't I being petty? Karishma was very talented, but at no time, did she boss over us. So I decided to keep her secret. Annie had caught my eye and nodded. She told Karishma, 'No worries! I will help you get over the phobia.'
Karishma looked up and smiled , 'No harm in trying yet again.'
'I am sure that you soon be a dog lover and an expert at training the canine too!' Annie