Aliya seemed disturbed as she waited for her school bus. Her smile had vanished since her friend told something. On enquiry Aliya conveyed that her school’s annual painting competition was happening the very next day. The details were published on the school portal long back. Aliya was down with chicken pox and so wasn’t aware of it.
She had been the first prize winner for the past 4 years. Her teachers and friends eagerly looked up to her. If she was to enroll for the competition, she had to draw and submit it by tomorrow morning, which was nearly impossible. It would be really late by the time she reaches home with all her extra classes. Usually she takes nearly a week’s time for that. Her father somehow consoled her saying it was ok if she couldn’t participate this year.
The thought of not being able to participate made her restless throughout the day. Contrary to her usual talkative nature, she was withdrawn on her way back too. The bus driver gave a harsh break which jerked her out of her thoughts. She swayed roughly and held on to the front seat. She felt something under her leg and saw that it was a rolled up chart paper.
Aliya opened it and was amazed to see a beautiful unsigned painting which was done perfectly according to the norms of the competition. Aliya was too excited. But she held her joy under control and hid it along in her lunch bag.
On reaching home she ran to her father and narrated what happened in between utter glee and grasping breaths.
Her father listened to the whole story and asked her to sit beside him. Then he told her softly. “Art is a gift of god. Gifts are not something to be stolen. I am proud of your achievements only as long as it’s truly yours. This painting is really good. It will surely get you the first prize. But remember that prize will never be yours. You will feel guilty about it forever.”
With an extended pause he continued “Aliya, if you are true to yourself, you will always be happy. Be good, not for the society, but for yourself. I know the time is less, but I believe in you. Try your best. We never know! You might finish painting by tomorrow morning. Even if that does not bag any prize, I will still be proud of you for two things, first, for being true to yourself and second for trying your best”.
Raising Aliya’s chin up, her father patted her head.
Aliya was all confused. She had a beautiful painting in her hand that would easily win the competition. All she needed to do was put in her name and give it to her teacher. Her second choice was to let the competition go without even trying. The last option being her trying her best to complete her painting before tomorrow morning and wishing it would be good enough.
Her father’s words echoed in her. Aliya decided to take the hardest track. She browsed through the norms clearly and started painting. She was feeling physically tired since she had just recovered from her illness.
But the radiance that she felt within kept her awake throughout the night. Next day when her dad came in, he found Aliya sleeping on the floor besides the painting. She got ready hastily and went to school. She also took the painting she got from the bus. She enrolled her painting for the competition and gave the unsigned painting to her teacher. The teacher found the student who really drew it. The unsigned painting got the first prize and Aliya got the second. As Aliya was invited on stage to receive the prize, the first prize winner along with the teachers took turns to praise her good deed. She was the star of the show. Aliya saw her father brimming with pride among the other parents. He was also being congratulated for Aliya’s deed. It was at that moment that she realized the value of being true to oneself. For Aliya ,it was a lesson well learned.
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