The piercing trill warns me to hurry up with the task at hand: take a shower. Mom’s been insisting on one for a week.
“What a mundane routine I wake up to!
Wish I get a break from this hullabaloo!”
“Enough, Pappu! You’re getting late for school. Bamboo Salad’s ready.” I hear Mom’s irritable tone even when referring to my favourite food.
Sigh! I know my tunes aren’t great. But, with proper practice, I’m sure to go places. Nobody understands. Not even Mom. Everybody taunts me that Pandas and singing don’t go together.
“Hello and welcome to my world,
I’m Pappu; I love bamboo;
But, snide remarks get hurled,
When I tell I love singing too.”
A huge bang on the door breaks my musical reverie. Mom’s going ballistic. It’s time to stop my bathroom singing and get out.
I’m on my way to school thinking of those bullies, Munnu and Sonu. Ah! How I hate them when they tease my obese looks.
“Never jeer at one’s appearance,
It stands definition of his inherence.
Black or white; yellow or brown;
Treat him equal; not a clown.”
I muse to myself in my best tune, when I hear a mellifluous voice calling me.
“Dear Panda, remarkable is your rendition,
Hone your skill; you’re sure to gain recognition!”
“Whoa! I’m humbled, Miss. May I know who I’m talking to?” I ask, searching frantically.
My eyes search the branches and settle on a brown bird with a reddish tail.
“It’s my pleasure to meet you, Miss Neeti, the nightingale. I’ve heard of your fame. The bird with a divine voice.”
“Thanks, dear. Well…nobody listens to me these days. Times have changed. I’m just a nightingale now: a plain brown bird.”
I can sense a note of melancholy in her voice.
“No, Miss. I’ve a lot of respect for you. I was instilled with the passion to sing only after I woke up to your song one morning.”
“Glad to hear that,” cooed Neeti.
“Well…ummm…let me confess that I’d like to be your student, Miss. Will you teach me the nuances of singing, please?” I fold my hands and ask of her, my only wish.
Her eyes widen. I can’t fathom if it’s with shock or joy.
“A sweet Panda puts forth a request,
And, I bow down at his behest.”
My heart swells with gratitude at her affirmative.
Thus, I embark on a soulful journey to my true calling.
Two years later:
I feel nervous as I wait with the other finalists for the judges’ announcement.
“And…the winner of the Asian Jungle’s Singing Icon contest is….”
My heart drums against my ribs.
“PAPPU, THE PANDA!”
I hear thunderous applause ringing through my ears, at the mention of my name.
As I hold the microphone and the trophy gingerly, my eyes well up looking at my beloved teacher fluttering excitedly amidst the audience.
“To you, Miss Neeti, I dedicate this award,
For trusting me to master the right chord.”
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