Megna's Birds Which swam!

Megna's Birds Which swam!


I wished I could paint those fishes better. Why do Gunjan's fishes in her paintings look so much MORE real? Mine looked more like birds swimming in the water! Hey, why not imagine it was an under-water world just like in the Mermaid stories and tell people they were actually birds which swam. Especially to Keshav who loved to be mean when describing my drawings or paintings.

 Last week at school when looking at my drawing of a dog he had asked in his fake polite voice, "Megna, Is that an Elephant?". All his friends standing behind him found it hilarious. I didn't find it funny. If he calls my fishes birds, I will retort with my under-water world story and that should shut him up. I smiled to myself.

"Megna... Megna....". I vaguely heard my mother calling for me. She did not sound too urgent. Maybe I can just finish drawing a house under the tree and then see what she wants. I picked up the pencil to draw. "MEGNA.. MEGNA...". Oops, now that was a "don't keep me waiting" tone. "Yes, Coming Mom", I answered, reluctantly keeping the pencil donw and went to the kitchen. "I hope you are not wasting time day-dreaming. Did you finish the painting for the school competition that is due tomorrow?", she asked.

"Well,       that's what I was doing when you interrupted me!", I said with a scowl. "I don't want to submit it anyway. Everybody makes fun of my paintings". She gave me a stare. "Everybody? Now don't exaggerate. I am sure most of them like it. They look good to me. You are only 8 and will get better if you keep trying. Anyway, you have to submit something so try your best and finish it."

I slowly went back and stared at my drawing again. I kept thinking of my under-world idea and decided to go for it. I added more things like castles, plants, even playgrounds under the water. I drew some squiggly looking people with fish tails and fins but with normal heads to look like persons who may live under water. I was enjoying myself and soon was looking at what to me was a nice drawing.

I started painting with bright colours and was almost done when I my mother came to look. "It looks good, Megna. It might get the 1st prize.". I snorted. She had not seen Gunjan's or Shankar's paintings. If she had, she wouldn't be saying this. Still, I was happy that she liked it and put it out to dry.

At school, my painting was up on the wall along with others during the last period for the judges to pick the winners. I had avoided being anywhere near Keshav most of the day. Right now, I was focused on escaping Shruthi who was trying to catch me in our game of tag. Teachers were busy and had let us free to play until the results were announced.

Then we heard the call on our school address system. "All third standard children, please assemble in Room 3B for the painting competition results". Even though, I felt I had no hope I couldn't help feeling excited with a g funny feeling growling in my stomach. Who knows, I could get lucky. Wouldn't that shut Keshav up once and for all?

The judges first gave a speech about how all the paintings were good but they could pick only 3 for the awards. "3rd prize goes to...", I held my breath, "...Shankar". I exhaled. If I had any hope it was the 3rd prize. How can my painting be better than Shankar's? "2nd prize goes to Suma and the 1st prize..... goes to Gunjan". Well that's it. I clapped hard for my friend Gunjan. She will be a famous painter someday I thought.

I walked over to my painting where I saw an old man looking at it. I stood near him wondering what he was thinking. Was he also going to make fun of it? He turned and smiled at me. "Is that your painting, little girl?". "Yes, sir", I said reluctantly. "Hmm... very nice. I love the way you have painted the under-water world. The people are very interesting looking. And swimming birds? Good imagination there. Keep it up", he said with a genuine smile. I blushed red and stammered out a "Thank you, sir".

"Shall we go?", asked one of the judges to the old man. Giving me one last smile he walked off. Aarthi Mam, our art teacher, came up and asked me, "So what did Mr. Ali say about your painting?". "Mr. Ali?", I asked confused. "Oh, didn't you know. That was Mr.
Ali, one of the best painters in India who was standing with you. He is a friend of one of the judges and had just come along to see all the paintings". I stared at her and then at the backs of the 2 people walking away from us. Somehow, prizes or crude remarks did not matter any more. One important man had said enough to keep me painting for ever....

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