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There I was sitting on a high back wooden chair, too big for my small frame to an extent that my legs didn’t even reach the ground! My anxiety was at its zenith and even multiplied as my eyes scanned my confident competitors all set with pens in their hands and I was the only one holding a pencil!

You see, I have a special affinity for pencils. They help you undo your mistakes without spoiling your work as if the mistake was never made! But my mind was far from pencils then. It was occupied with “Why ma’am sent me in this school where I have to compete with such masters of art and wit! “

Deep breath… Calm down!

“Ma’am trusts me that maybe I could make it. So, it’s okay. What I can do is perform the best I can!” See, this is what I do! Pose some questions and answer them myself.

But still my mind wasn’t relaxed, so much entropy man! Then as if to unload the unease my mind employed its self-healing technique. It searched its memory and the beaming faces, waving hands of my friends screaming “All the best” to me at the top of their voice just before I was leaving for this place filled my thoughts. They trust me so much! I have to do this for them!

I sat straight feeling better and heard the clock chiming 11 o’clock (morning). The judges, a man some 35-40 years old and a lady of around 50 took their seats and announced the topic for which all the participants were impatiently waiting!

“The topic for your poetry is Sarvhara Varg” So, I have to write about those who are suffering a lot, facing discrimination, isolation and what not! But what’s the word-limit? I asked the judges and in his clear voice he replied, “There’s no defined word-limit to poetry. It’s the song… the melody of your heart which you can express in four lines or forty pages as per your heart allows.”

My lips automatically curled into a smile at his wise words. Until now, my nerves were tensed about the competition but now it didn’t bother. I was here for writing poetry… to sing the song my heart would compose!

And now, I was floating in the air, my pencil began to whisper my words to the paper… When did that half hour passed, I didn’t even realise. The first round where we had to write was over, then came the recitation part. People were coming over to stage, reading their beautiful works, eloquent descriptions with such a poetic rhythm.

I was enjoying myself so much that I forgot it was my turn next. I quickly recollected myself and recited the poem with true emotions for those whom I’ve written about! Everyone clapped as they had done for others. Oh! The judges had written our marks on our sheets. 27/35 this is what I saw on mine.

Ah! Less marks. It’s alright. The aim was to pour your heart out and that’s what I tried at least, the rest it doesn’t matter and I don’t care! I consoled myself cataloguing all the morale-boosting phrases like ‘Participation is more important than winning! I had addressed my poem to God and I’m contended with what I have written. No worries, no expectations, only deep breaths and a sweet feeling in my heart!’

The judges started announcing prizes. Consolation and third announced, my name was in neither. Now, I was sure my name doesn’t exist in the list of winners nor I was hoping much. Second prize went to the girl sitting on my immediate left who was transfixed. Her ashen face suggested how dare could she be second! She should’ve been first. Anyway, she composed herself given to the strange looks people were projecting at her.

Now, the breaths were held! Oh… no, no, not mine! I was just thinking about the delicious food we were about to have after the results. Then, the man’s voice boomed into the mike, ”First prize goes to the one who presented her song as a prayer to the Almighty Bhavya Malhotra!”

OMG! Did I hear it right? My mind went blank. I have a faint memory of cheers from the crowd. Thank God, we have a subconscious that I guess drifted me towards the stage that day. But then it occurred to me as I gained some of myself back, ‘27/35’

Isn’t it so low? How could I be first! Then I rechecked the result. It showed 27/30 in writing and 28/30 in recitation. Oh, my goodness, I’d read it wrong! It was out of 30 not 35. My heart smiled silently.

People were showering praises on me but in my mind one record was incessantly playing: “Poetry is the melody of your heart!” That one sentence is a poetry in itself which changed my whole outlook! That’s the impact of words… the power of poetry!

After the refreshment, saturating my mind with all the memories of this beautiful place, we left the grounds of Suraj Bhan DAV, Vasant Kunj and returned back to our school. I went straight to my teacher Ms. Hema and thanked her for trusting me! Her happiness knew no bounds and she congratulated and blessed me with tear-dimmed eyes.

Then next stop was my class, the most adorable of all X – E. Oh, my dear classmates! They erupted into cheers and clapped so loudly that the fluid was on the verge of brimming out from my eyes given to the overwhelming atmosphere. Then peacefully I sat on my bench, my heart still whispering: “Poetry is the melody of your heart!”

It’s on that day only I felt a spark kindling deep within me! I felt like a poet if that’s the feeling they have! I wrote like a poet if that’s how they write like and eventually that day I became a poet if that’s how they’re made…

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