Frozen For Ever …

When I was thinking of story ideas for yesterday’s monsoon theme, I realized quite a few monsoon related memories were from school days. And when Bhavya and I were thinking of themes for Day 2 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge in July, she suggested school. So I immediately grabbed on to that. We’re doing posts on the same theme each day (like A to Z Challenge in April). The theme for day 2 was School.



He stood behind a pillar and waited. A crowd was beginning to gather behind him, but he didn’t move. He couldn’t. His eyes were closed, and his legs felt like the orange-flavored jelly he had had that morning after breakfast. He hoped against hope that he wouldn’t begin to sweat, and make the creaseless white shirt with grey stripes wet. He loved his uniform, and absentmindedly checked if the shirt was properly tucked into the dark grey pants, and if there were any specks of dust on his shoes. From somewhere, he heard a girl’s voice announcing it was prayer time.

om bhur, bhuva, svaha,
tat savitur varenyam;
bhargo devasya dheemahi,
dhiyo yonha prajodaya.

The voice read out a line, then chanted along once more with the audience, then moved to the next line. On other days, he would be in the audience, and the prayer would be over in a minute, but today, each line felt longer. He knew he would have to wait. The prayer would be followed by the national pledge.

After what felt like an hour, he heard the girl’s voice announce, “… reciting the poem which was published in The Times of India” and a smattering of applause broke through. Someone gave him a push, and he moved toward the stage, no feeling in his legs as he did so. The applause continued for a bit, and when it died down, he cleared his throat.

“To.. write…or or…”

The stutter sent a chill through his spine, and he looked to his right. His classmates smiled, mimed him to take a deep breath and continue.

“To write, or not to write,
Is that even a question?
To write is why I breathe,

But that’s all that would come from him. Staring into the audience, he froze. He closed his eyes, and the words began to stutter. Two of his classmates came out and led him to the side, and he heard another friend recite his poem.

He knew his classmates would tease him about it later. He hadn’t felt any nerves in the rehearsal for the assembly, when it was just him and his friends.

He was determined to try again someday, but to his surprise, that day would never come. With one frozen moment, his destiny had been frozen too. The teacher had delivered the verdict soon after.

“Your stage fear will not embarrass me again.”

This story is a work of fiction. Resemblance to anyone in real life is coincidental.

(2nd July 2014)

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Poetry & writing are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

28 thoughts on “Frozen For Ever …”

  1. Ah been there. My brother was participating in an elecution competition and he froze. He was so scared. But luckily his tacher encouraged him and he did participate much more successfully on later occasions. Encouragement is the best way to get someone to let of the fear of public speaking. Wish his teacher realised that his determination was more important than his/her embarrassment.

  2. I had such a moment once in school and the audience waited patiently while I racked my brains and remembered what to speak.
    It was never fear, but a moment of black out. I still love to go on stage and did at least a hundred impromptu speeches while in college. Speaking into a mike and addressing an audience gives me a kind of high that I cannot put in words.

  3. BAD BAD TEacherrrrrrrr …

    I know that feeling .. reminded me I got selected for a recital to represent my school , we had a essay competition and my essay got selected which also came that i got to read or say it out at a function .. it was a big big inter school thing and the worst happened .. I climbed the stage and BLANK.. most embarassing time of my life

    But I did not let that hamper me , slowly practised and made my friends go through hell listening to me all the time .. and one day Won the inter school debate 🙂

    • Biks, I guess the teach’ was unhappy that he ruined the assembly which she orchestrated 🙂 I kind of understand.

      Good that you went past it and conquered the fear, and even won the debate 🙂

  4. Amazing write. We all go through this atleast once in our school days. Atleast I have!! Thanks for sharing. It was great to read- helped me relive many memories 🙂

    • Thank you. 🙂 Yes, nervousness is quite common in school days I guess. Not very happy memories, but good to recollect just the same.

  5. Very well narrated Leo. These are part and parcel of life – it is the society, people and their set mindset that makes it worse. Wish the teacher had not said that.

  6. Well written, Leo. I can relate to the stage fright, especially during school days. Those were the days when the cat got my tongue on stage!

  7. well written leo 🙂 I have experienced this.. even in college few months back.. i went blank when i had to sing and then my partner sang my lines too while i tried futilely to recover from my fright! it was so embarrassing!

  8. Leo, this seems to be a chapter from my life if you can change the He to a She. The words were: “Never again. You’re good for nothing.” I wonder if teachers ever realized how much their words affect the children. Especially the not so brilliant, active and loud ones. Very well-written!

    • I too wonder if teachers realize that, Rekha. But the competition to bring the best child to the front makes them forget sometimes that a push at the right time is needed to get them there. And no better time for encouraging a child than when he/she has just had a low moment. Thanks for finding it to be well-written.

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