Aarti usually went for a walk after dropping Medha at the bus stop. It was at the return when she met Mrs. Panicker. ‘How are you Mrs. Panicker?’,
Mrs. Panicker gave a lame smile and said, ‘Fine’ and carried on.
‘Someone not well Mrs. Panicker, why these medicines’, asked Aarti.
Mrs. Panicker sighed and said, ‘Sahana is not well Mrs. Mittal. She has severe viral infection. You know how it is. Her fever is not coming down. And she has been missing school for the past week. And summatives are up next week. I am worried’.
‘Don’t worry Mrs. Panicker, everything will be alright. And don’t worry about summatives, she will be fine by then. Also you can copy Medha’s notes, I will send it in the evening…..’, said Aarti.
‘NO, no Mrs. Mittal, we will manage, no need of Medha’s notes’, said Mrs. Panicker and hurried away.
Aarti kept on looking her way. From a past few days she had observed that Medha was left alone. Very few of the colony children would talk to her. Most would keep a distance. What could be the reason?
In the evening Aarti went to Mrs. Panickers place laden with fruits and Medha’s class notes.
Mrs. Panicker opened the door but obviously she was astonished. ‘I brought some fruits and notes for Sahana’, said Aarti and stepped in. She saw a very weak Sahana sitting on the couch. And said, “hey Sahana….how are you darling, see I have brought you Medha’s notes, you don’t have to worry about studies now…’
‘Medha’s notes??, I don’t want Medha’s notes’, Sahana said and with teary eyes looked at her mother and said, ‘why did you ask?’
‘I didn’t’, said Mrs. Panicker but by then Sahana had rushed to her room.
There was a heavy silence in the room. And then Mrs. Panicker said, ‘Thank you Mrs. Mittal but we won’t be needing Medha’s notes.’
Mrs. Panicker, will you explain to me why Sahana does not want Medha’ss notes’, Asked Aarti.
‘No, nothing like that, you know children when they are weak behave in weird ways’, said Mrs. Panicker.
‘I don’t believe that Mrs. Panicker. I have observed that from some days none of the colony children want to play with Medha. So there must be something. Please tell me Mrs. Panicker. I want to correct my daughter if she is wrong. Please I insist.’
Mrs. Panicker looked embarrassed but then began to speak, ‘Medha is of course, brilliant, sharp. Obviously her IQ is high but then…’
‘Please tell Mrs. Panicker, please don’t hesitate’, insisted Aarti
‘Medha thinks very highly of herself Mrs. Mittal and makes fun of others. You know my Sahana doesn’t speak very good English, so she teases Sahana about her accent. My Sahana is a sensitive child Mrs. Mittal and it affects her. Medha shows of her superiority in everything and that is why none of the kids like to play with her any more.’
Aarti was shocked. She mumbled a thanks and left.
Over the past few days Aarti just observed Sahana. And found out that what Mrs. Panicker had said was true. At every given opportunity Medha would boast or show her superiority and Aarti knew that, that habit of hers had to be set right.
Medha was excited. The next day was the open day at school. She wanted her parents to meet her teachers, especially she wanted them to meet Teacher Angela. Angela teacher liked her a lot and she knew that she would praise her in front of her parents.
She told her parents what to wear and instructed them to speak good english as Angela teacher spoke very good english.
It was then that Aarti had a brain wave.
The next day Medha proudly took her parents to Angela teacher. After the formalities were over. Aarti asked some questions in faltering English.
Medha was devastated and she looked around checking that no one was listening. Then she signalled to her mother but her mother ignored her completely.
The rest of the meeting went on like that and then they stood up to leave, when Aarti spoke, ‘Sorry my english is not so good’
‘Oh that is ok Mrs. Mittal. A famous person has said, Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language‘, she said with a smile and added, ‘one can’t judge anyone on their language, can you. It is the character that matters’.
Medha was thoughtful on their return home.
Aarti looked at her from the corner of her eyes. She hoped that she had learnt a lesson today. In the coming days she would learn some more.