Illustration by Sumbul
Illustration by Sumbul

It was just another mundane day at my school. I did not like the thought of going to school that day, and there was a particular reason behind that. I had woken up with a throbbing headache because of what I was to face in school. I dreaded the day as it was the articulated Urdu speech day. I was not petrified, but I did not want to be flustered by my poor oratory skills, therefore I was very nervous.

I knew that there was no way I would be competent. We went to our class, but I could not stop thinking about the Urdu period. I just had goose bumps the whole day and remained absent-minded; I had never-ending flashbacks from the last time when the whole class giggled at me like I was a clown adorned as a teddy bear.

Anyway, I knew I couldn’t run away from the speech, so I waited and remained nervous the whole time, but what I never expected was that it wouldn’t take place. And the time finally passed and it was home time.

“Yay! Home time!” the children in the corridor screamed. This meant ‘no speech’ that day… but I shouldn’t be happy because the sword was still hanging over me, telling me that I had to do it in the next class, which was a few days later.

However, I couldn’t rest, and couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I decided to work on my weakness. I devised a plan of speaking in front of a mirror. The next few days, as planned, I gathered up myself and spoke in front of a mirror, though in the beginning, I was stuttering, I didn’t lose hope. Many times, I broke down in tears of stress.

Two hectic days of my weekend were over, filled with stress. Fortunately, I had finally found my rhythm; however, I still had no confidence. After three long days of work, it was a school day. The first period was Urdu this time. All my friends reassured me, which gave me the much-needed confidence.

The teacher announced it was time for the competition, and one by one, students went and spoke in front of the whole class. Then I heard the teacher call out my name. I slowly stood up and went in front of the whole class. I reminded myself of my hard work and felt better. I started in a shaky voice, but soon I gained confidence and words flowed so smoothly that even my hypercritical teacher was impressed.

I ended with an optimistic quote of the great Quaid-i-Azam, and after that, the cheerful applause began. My hidden talent was a surprising discovery for me, and the rest was history. ' Published in Dawn, Young World, April 13th, 2024

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