Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Cultural Fest (Short Story)

'Hello everybody! As your training days nears the end, we would like to entertain you by organizing a cultural fest. We need each and every one of you to participate. Non-participants names will be written on chits and those selected in the lot will have to perform the act written at the back of their respective chits. Participation is mandatory!'

Mr. Saxena, the trainer, made an announcement to the newly recruited graduates who were undergoing their first batch of training at one of the most popular nationalized banks of the country. All the trainees of the batch were excited about the participation, except Sooraj, who was hesitant to enroll his name for any event. He glanced through the list of events - dance, singing, skit, magic, martial arts - but wasn't interested to enroll in any of those. Two things ran in his mind that stopped him from enrolling himself - stage fear and shyness.  He was neither a good dancer nor a good singer. The other events sounded alien to him. As the participation was mandatory, he made his mind to enroll himself in singing as he felt it quite easier task compared to the rest. 

As Sooraj went ahead to give his name, he was stopped by a couple of his co-trainees, who were also his roommates. 
'Hey Sooraj, we need your help.'
'I'm all ears,' replied Sooraj.
'Me, along with Dinesh, Ramesh and Suresh, have enrolled our names for the dance. We need someone to operate the audio part of the event. Would you be interested to take care of it?'

Those words came as a relief to Sooraj. He badly wanted a way out of the mandated participation and Sooraj grabbed the golden opportunity. He did not enroll his name for any of the mentioned event as he was considered as an exception who was asked to take charge of operating the audio part for the dance event. 

The next evening, people gathered at the auditorium to witness the cultural fest. Sooraj was asked to get to the back stage. As he walked to the back stage, Sooraj witnessed a bowl full of chits placed hidden beside the stage. He peeped into the bowl and found his name written on the top most chit. He looked around and confirmed that no one was observing him. He immediately picked the chit in his hand, tore it off and walked happily to the back stage. 

As Sooraj sat there relaxed, he heard an announcement. 

'The first event is the random selection. We are going to pick the names of the non participants from the lot.' 

Sooraj had a confidently sarcastic smile on his face as he plugged in the pen drive. He was thoroughly confident that his name wouldn't be called out as he tore the chit that had his name before getting to the back stage. The participant's name was called.

'Sooraj..!' 

'Mr. Sooraj..!'

Sooraj couldn't believe his ears. He got up from his chair and walked to the front stage. He stood there looking at Mr. Saxena who announced the participant's name.

'Can we have Mr. Sooraj on stage, please?' 

Sooraj was sure it was his name being called because he was the only guy of the batch carrying that name. His heart began to pound very fast as he walked towards the stage. Saxena handed off the chit to Sooraj and he was asked to perform the task written on the chit. Sooraj was asked to sing a regional song.

Rather than being nervous, Sooraj was surprised about the fact that how his name got into the chit. Sooraj roughly sang four lines of a regional song and got off the stage. As he walked away from the stage, he noticed the bowl filled with chits lying untouched beside the stage. The bowl from where Saxena picked his name seemed to be a different one. 

Unable to control his curiosity, Sooraj asked one of his batch mate pointing to the bowl on the stage, 'from where did they bring it?'
'Saxena brought it with him when he arrived on stage,' the guy replied.
Sooraj was curious to know why another similar bowl was placed hidden beside the stage. Pointing to the other bowl, Sooraj asked, 'then what about that bowl? What's that for?'
The guy replied, 'that's the lucky draw. Winner gets an iPod shuffle!'

Written by Ashwin Kumar

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