Do you ever detest yourself when your mouth jams and your brain sits down when it is supposed to stand up? I do.
Tomorrow is the second edition of an intra-uni debate competition; the year of its inception was when I tried my hands on anything seriously debate-ful for the first time in college. Standing on that podium, i did everything i shouldn’t have: i diverted my attention from my matter to the 60+ audience populated by college seniors (mostly guys. At the time, girls in their freshman year were not allowed to go out except when the college schedule permitted them. And you thought the Taliban was heartless?)
Suddenly, i remembered a friend who had promised he would come to watch me speak. Mind you, all of this happened when I was supposed to be speaking. Brain put his foot down (I always assumed Brain to be a he) and I zoned out. With all the attention and all the lights on me, the situation wasn’t improving. I tried deciphering the keywords I had sneaked onto the side of my thumb; bah, illegible.
I looked up. My gaze was greeted with sheer disappointment. The rounds prior to the finals included an extempore and a case group discussion. Having done reasonably well, my seniors expected me to perform in the same streak in the finals. (Then there was the weight of being the only girl from the first year, and one of the only two in the final ten. I now realized none of it matters.)
I dragged a hasty half-hearted conclusion to my speech as part of my face-saving measures. I was to receive two questions from the audience after I was done.
The questions themselves reflected how well I made a mud pie out of the whole thing. The judge wondered (quite loudly) if I was for or against the motion. A senior asked some point based on my topic. I tried my best to answer it as well as I could; that look of pity on his face was unmistakable.
As i turned around and traced my steps back to my seat, i knew it was over.
I have a grip on the language; I’m articulate. All through my school life, i allowed panel discussions and speeches to lull me into thinking I was good.
I have the potential to be good. I still have a long way to go.
But back then, i thought I had it all set. Nevertheless, as they announced the results, i shamelessly hoped for them to spell my name out. Second place, third, anything?
I’m sure they heard my grammar and expression. I made pretty decent points too…?
Well, it’s obvious I did not win anything. I felt lonely amongst a hundred people as everyone showered boundless praises on the three distinguished speakers, as I, with the other seven were pushed out of the frame. Literally.
In the photograph commemorative of the inaugural event, the camera guy did not even bother to capture me. Everyone else managed to fit in. I sat on one far end of the line on stage, giving the shutter my best smile.
Like Ray Barone says, ‘At least I was nominated. Losers say that!’ I felt like an absolute loser. (Everybody else helped too)
My participation in the first edition was nothing short of a disaster and now, a year later, I have acknowledged that I need to work up my skills.
Dread infiltrates every pore in me, living and dead.
The competition tomorrow being discussed invariably hurls me into my past fiasco.
But this time, I have resolved to use my best voice, my best words and my best stories.
And like a debater-friend told me, I’m gonna ask ‘how’ and ‘why’ when I get my topic.
I’m gonna have fun. And of course, I’m still secretly hoping that—shh.
How many such experiences can you count? I’d love to know!