“GR”, the HM called him in a friendly tone and said “This is Sanjay, a new student.I have admitted him in your class as I felt he needs your care and attention. I will discuss more during lunch time.”
The HM had left and boy was still standing at the door with a bag clutched in his hands waiting for the teacher’s permission to enter the class.He was wearing a much worn cotton shirt along with shorts that were a shade small for his size..There was a safety pin pinned askew securing the shirt as there were no buttons.He looked emaciated with bony legs, sunken eyes and unspoken sadness writ large on his well defined and charming face..
The teacher called him by his side.As he came limping with his polio affected leg, he put his arm around him and asked him softly “What is your name, young boy? I forget Sanjiv or some such thing. Where are you from?”
“Good, Welcome to the class Sanjay.. Is there anyone among the boys wanting to have Sanjay by his side? “asked the teacher.There was a deafening silence for a couple of minutes till Partha stood up.Ravi nudged him in his leg and whispered “You fool, He looks skinny and lame.”
Partha turned around and saw his mates.Raj made an ugly grimace. A few others were not amused by Partha’s gesture.It appeared they didn’t like the new entrant.
“.Go and sit by the side of Partha” said the teacher.
All eyes were on the little boy as he ambled along towards Partha.Partha moved to his left and gave him the aisle seat to enable the boy sit without having to wade his way through the chairs.Shilpa a girl of Parthas age did not fail to notice the thoughtfulness of her friend .There was a touch of pride in her eyes.
GR Sir asked after he wrote (a+b-c)2 on the board “”Can any one expand this ?
There was a long silence.The teacher asked “Sanjay, do you know the answer?”
The boy stood up and gave the right answer.”Why were you waiting for me to ask?” asked the teacher.
“Sorry Sir.I was waiting for others to respond” he replied.There was instant jealousy amongst the students when the teacher exclaimed”Sabash, well done”
When the bell rang for lunch, all the boys and girls scampered to the door.Partha also had run but turned to see behind.He saw Sanjay sitting on the bench alone.A sense of guilt pricked the little boy even as he came to Sanjay. Soon Shilpa joined them.
Partha asked “Have you brought any lunch? Come on; let us eat outside under the tree.” The three of them sat together and shared what they had. Shilpa said “Sanjay, don’t feel bad.The other boys and girls will soon become your friends.They are not wicked”
Even as she was saying this Ravi and Raj came to Sanjay and pulled his collar.
”Are you trying to show off that you know better than us? Can you have a bout of boxing with me? I can give you a black eye that your mom won’t be able to recognise you” said Raj.
When Ravi pushed the boy who fell down, Partha yelled at them “ You chicken hearted bullies.Come on, let us have the bout of boxing and let me find out whose mom fails to recognise whom” and lunged forward at Ravi and Raj.Partha was a big built boy with strong muscles and the two ran away unwilling to put up a fight.Shilpa helped Sanjay sit up and dusted the sand from his face and arms.
“Thank you both” said Sanjay even as he smiled. I can sing for you like Sonu Nigam, if you wish to hear”.The two were thrilled to hear Sanjay sing very much like the famous singer. Soon all the boys and girls surrounded them and were enthralled by the melodious singing. The boy mesmerised his class mates with his beautiful rendering in his wonderful voice that matched the great singer. When he had finished the song ,each one of them went up to Sanjay and gave him a warm hug and a word of praise.Ravi and Raj were not far behind when they sheepishly came to say”Sorry, Sanjay,we behaved badly.Please accept us as your friends.”
Sanjay standing between Partha and Shilpa smiled at them and said “I am happy to be with you all.True, I cannot run a race or join a bout of boxing but I have many tricks up my sleeves.I shall entertain you whenever the opportunity presents itself.I am happy to get you all as my buddies but I value the friendship of Partha and Shilpa extended to me whole heartedly when they had seen only my handicap and were not aware of my singing ability.”
The bell rang and the three walked arm in arm towards the class.