Stage Fright

You know, according to me, one of the toughest things in life is to speak in front of an audience. I’d enrolled for pick ‘n’ talk (commonly known as JAM) in my school. Wait! I was forced to enroll for pick ‘n’ talk in my school. I suppose all of you have heard of it. It is a competition where the contestants have to choose a topic from a box and will have only a minute to prepare for it. And a minute to speak for it!
“You’re up,” said the teacher in charge to me.
‘Don’t remind me,” I said under my breath so that she had no hope of hearing.
I moved to the box with the topics in it. I took the first one I saw. Please be a good topic! ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover” said the paper. WHAT?! I’m going to embarrass myself.
After introducing myself I’ll talk about what the topic means. Then I should refer to vanity. I’ll also talk about where it was first seen. No, that’ll seem too nerdy. But what else can I say about the topic which was annoying me now? Time up!
“Good luck. You’ll be the best!,” said the teacher with a smile.
‘Thank you,’ I said with a smile. I really wanted to believe her. I walked on stage and the first ones I noticed were my friends. They made funny faces to make a laugh. Some friends! I adjusted the mike according to my height. I thought of the old “Stage fright” tip. You have to imagine the audience in their underpants. But that only made me more nervous. “Good evening everyone!”, I said cheerfully. Wait! It was a morning!
“I mean good morning everyone.” A few seventh graders were giggling at my mistake. A bad start definitely…. “The topic given to me is ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’.”
“The phrase means that you must not judge the personality of a person based of his or her appearance. This phrase refers to the vanity of certain people. It was first seen in an African journal in the year 1944.” I sounded like a nerd. Not good! I saw a girl yawning! How boring am I? What else should I say?
“Umm…just as how a boring looking book would turn out to be interesting and an interesting looking book would turn out be boring, the human being is also judged on that basis. A beautiful person from outside may not be a beautiful person from inside.” I still had thirty seconds left.
“Umm…Um.. I’m sorry but I don’t know what to say more on this topic.” Did I just say that? Suddenly the entire auditorium looked at me like as if I was a museum piece.Oh no!
“I’m sorry but I got a real rotten topic. Wouldn’t you agree?” I stared at the students. Suddenly everything was a blur. Teachers told me go back inside.
“Thank you.” My voice quivered. I went back inside. The teacher came to me and glared at me.
“What was that about?,” she asked reproaching.
“Sorry but I was just so nervous,” I replied nervously. She glared for a few more seconds and went back. After a few more participants the judge came to announce the winners. She may mention me for bad behavior. Great!
‘The third prize goes to Niharika Suresh,’ she said happily. The crowd cheered. “The second prize goes to Amritha Pillai.” More cheering. “Now the moment we’ve all been awaiting for.The first prize goes to…..any guesses?”
I heard many names being called. I couldn’t hear a particular name being called properly.
“Andal Srivatsan.”
What? Did she just call my name? I’m the winner of this year! I went on stage with an expression of disbelief on my face.
“You know why I chose you?”, asked the judge.
“I was hoping you would tell me that. I’m shocked.”
“Don’t be. A true speaker should not be afraid to voice his or her opinions out. And that’s why you were the speaker of the day.”
I smiled at her. What a day this turned out to be!


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