In that single moment, the world around me froze. My heart thumped so loudly, a reminder that the events that would follow would be determined by which of these three pieces of paper I choose. After what seemed like an eternity, I closed my eyes and picked one.
They say that Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of a rewarding effort.” To explore the accuracy of this, let’s back up a little. How did I get here? It all started one fateful Wednesday morning when I was nominated to represent my Secondary school in a regional Impromptu Speech Competition.
Before then, I was a regular student in my High school, popular enough to be noticed yet not enough to be known by my seniors or juniors. It was like being a friend to everyone in my set yet a wallpaper in the school at large. Little did I know that one competition would change the course of things.
That Wednesday, my class teacher announced that there was an Impromptu Speech competition between some popular neighbouring schools and that if we were interested in going, we should signify. A few of us, including me, raised our hands.”Afterall”, I thought “a little sightseeing is better than being stuck in a boring series of classes”. The only twist to it was that we received some topics to prepare ahead of and we would be asked randomly to speak on one of them on the D- day. Sounds easy right?
“Who would represent us, sir? And when is the competition?” I asked
“You will ” He replied. “And it’s this Friday.”
“Great, bummer, I knew it was too good to be true.” Though I wasn’t scared of speeches, I hadn’t represented my school in a competition before yet. I had just a day’s interval to prepare for three topics, and with the calibre of schools also invited, it would be lucky to make it to honourable mention.
Thursday flew in a jiffy highlighted majorly by classes and my preparations; checking the internet, jotting my main points, speaking before an imaginary audience, etc. At the end of it, I was only well-prepared for topic one, partially prepared for the second, and not prepared for third at all. Funny right? But that was my reality when I woke up on competition day.
At the competition venue, there were several students from other schools. It was like a rainbow of school uniforms. The opening address and other formalities went in a flash, and soon it was time. I felt my heart sink to my stomach as I marched down the aisle with the other participants and mounted the podium. They explained the rules to us, and then we were called out individually to pick out the topics we would speak on randomly out of some folded paper that contained them. The moderator stretched out his palm to me, and as expected, three folded pieces of paper were on them.
So many things happened in the few seconds I stood before Him. It felt like each piece of paper was talking to me and demanding my attention. ‘Pick me’, ‘no me’ they said. I wondered within me. “Should I pick the leftmost one, or the one in the middle, or….”. An impatient cough interrupted my reverie, and immediately I closed my eyes and picked one. I unwrapped the folded paper to see the topic I had prepared for the most. OMG!
The moments that followed remained indelible in my memory. With a huge smile on my face, I delivered the best speech of my life that was met with thunderous applause. A few speeches later, I was announced as the winner and awarded to the joy of my schoolmates there.
In my school’s assembly the next Monday, I was called out and cheered before the entire school. As I returned to class, amidst the congratulations from all and sundry, I silently wondered what would have happened if I had been asked to speak on topic three or picked any of the other papers. Before I could follow those torturous train of thoughts, I stopped myself with, three words. ‘Good memories only. Good memories’.