Friday, March 16, 2012

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde.

There was this giant who had a big garden. Many children came to the garden to play. The giant was very selfish and wanted to keep all the beauty of the garden to himself, so he shooed the children away. Till then the garden which was always filled with children’s laughter and joy became empty. All the plants started dying off. In all other gardens there was blossom but in the giant’s garden there was winter always. The giant wondered what had happened to his garden. One day through a hole in the garden some children came in and seeing them and their joy and laughter all the plants and trees also came back to life and started blossoming. The giant saw all this from his window and understood how selfish he has been and from then on he also started playing with the kids.

“What is wrong with her,” whispered Rajib in my ear, “why is she telling us these cute stories all of a sudden?”
“Class. We are going to enact this play for our annual function this year. And all of you are in the play. I want you all to participate and we’ll all have a lot of fun! Right boys?” said our Bengali teacher with a lot of enthusiasm. We did not share the enthusiasm. I looked at Rajib with bored eyes and returned me back the same look.

As all group of individuals have a subgroup who are the ever enthusiasts, our class also had one. They had all the questions in the world. “When is the play Ma’am?” “When will we practice Ma’am?” “Will we have like proper makeup Ma’am?” “Ma’am, who will play what roll?” questions came from all corners of the class. And Ma’am pleasured everyone with a benevolent smile and with an attitude as if she was handing out relief packages to flood victims.

“Ok class! Quite! We will now decide on the roles that are to be played,” said Ma’am.
“She is telling as if she is going to have a voting as in Parliament. She is going to give me some crappy role for sure, “remarked Rajib.
“You anyways don’t deserve any good roles. Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” said I.

“The main child role is to be done by Sayan. Sayan are you fine?”
“Yes ma’am.”
“The giant is you Anirban.”
“OK ma’am.”
“Rajib, you are child number 2.”
“Ok ma’am.”

It continued. My name never came. It was one of the greatest ordeals of life. The time when every other one of your friend gets ordained with some character or the other and you expect that the next will be you. I have had the same feeling many times in later points of my life. When you have seen so many of your friends making through the doors of the coveted universities of the world for further studies and you had waited patiently for your opportunity. When you had seen all your friends get the expected appraisals in office and you had just had to wait for the next year. When you had seen your friends getting through those dream jobs and grabbing good profiles and you just hoped that someday even you’ll land a good job and profile. I guess that is the curse of mediocrity because of which you have to wait every time for that push from fate to take yourself forward. You simply don’t succeed to push yourself forward.

“And the rest of you are trees,” said ma’am, with a dismissive air.
Trees? Why do you have to have live children to be trees? Are they planning to make the trees dance around the stage? We had an ever enthusiast in our midst who summarized all that was running in my mind in one simple question.
“What are we trees supposed to do on stage ma’am? Do we have dialogues also?”
“We’ll discuss all that when we start the rehearsal,” ma’am said dismissing us trees even more.

We trees had the coolest part of all. Though I felt bad about the dismissive air with which teacher had told us, “And the rest of you are trees,” later I loved my part. While everybody else had to learn dialogues and jump around on stage. My role was brilliantly simple. When the children were playing in the garden during the beginning of the play, I was to sway from side to side. When the giant prohibits all children from playing in the garden, I die and I sort of lie down. And then when all children come back to the garden, I jump up to life and start swaying again. We trees stood and gossiped, poked each other, played pranks on each other and enjoyed in general as our other classmates, who had ‘real’ roles toiled to get their parts right. It felt like I was watching the play from the stage itself while playing no real part in the play. Before long we had many of our friend’s dialogues by heart. And we used to prompt them whenever some of them suddenly started stammering due to extreme cases of memory failure or nervousness. Well it would be lying if I say that we trees were brilliant in our part. Because we were so engrossed in watching what other classmates were doing and by hearting their dialogues that many a times we forgot to sway when we were supposed to, or we forgot to die when we were supposed to. Then there was the problem of every tree not dying synchronously at the moaning sound of the violin. On one occasion one of our fellow trees fell asleep while he was in his dying mode.

Though that day he got a terrible thrashing from ma’am, ma’am also understood that it had not been fair on her part to treat us so dismissively. She understood that even we, the plain and simple trees, could spoil the entire play. And from then on we were taken care of. And that day I learnt that whatever part somebody might play, every part was important. And anybody not playing his part, however small that part maybe, can spoil the entire play.

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