The sky seemed like a big pool of grey smoke. The weather was cool, moist. A fresh, earthy smell hung on the air.
I peered through the window with slick navy blue curtains, swinging to and fro to the movement of the minibus, blocking my view to some extent. Tiny rain droplets drizzled onto the closed glass pane with a light tinkle, creating a rhythmical musical tune which doubtlessly was perceived by quite a few. I could see the vague reflection of a stressed me breaking into a little grin on the damp window pane, as well as my surroundings. I became lost in admiring the lovely shower for a few moments.
But something restrained my admiration: a voice at the back of my head tsking inaudibly.
Reality struck me hard.
No. I wasn’t supposed to waste even a single precious second. Not so, for the sake of my school’s reputation. More so, for the sake of the promise I had made to ma.
I was, at that moment, sitting inside a minibus owned by my school authority. So were nineteen other students, a couple of gorgeously dressed female teachers (who chose to occupy their time by either gossiping amongst themselves or adjusting their smiles and makeup), the trainer, and the driver. We were all travelling towards our ultimate destination, Uttara. We the students were the chosen ones—the ones chosen for participating in the 'Annual Interbranch Extempore Speech and Debate Competition'.
My school’s name is DIS (it’s the abbreviated form). I am a 12-year-old student of grade 7 there. It is well-known for being the very first chain English Medium school in Bangladesh, a small non-native English-speaking country situated in the Indian subcontinent. Within Dhaka-the capital city, DIS has its two primary branches at Dhanmondi and Uttara. Every year, a group of students who are selected by means of an audition from each branch compete against the other in spontaneous speaking aka extempore speech, and debate.
Now, I was going to deliver the so-called ‘extempore’ speech from Dhanmondi Branch. To be frank, all the topics were given to the students long before the competition (this applies to both the branches), and the students were thoroughly trained for the forthcoming event by the trainer. The competition's typically like this: the participant is called to the stage, he/she picks one of the many topics at random (picking up one of the pieces of folded paper in a wide bowl), speaks on that particular topic, another participant comes, and the same things happen all over again.
I wasn’t well-prepared in advance as I couldn’t write the script for the speech thanks to studies and class tests. I am known to be the best speaker in the entire school, so expectations from me were huge. To make matters worse, my mother—or, ma as I call her— craved for me to attain the championship so much that I promised her that I would surely do so. All in all, I was in tremendous pressure.
I really had no choice but to give my speech truly extempore. Still, I had to go through the bullet points I had to talk about on the stage, so that I didn’t make a mess of myself at the competition. I have to acknowledge that I was pretty nervous since the judges would be sitting at the front, analysing my speech and shooting me cruel looks from time to time. Moreover, the audience present at the competition would be large no doubt.
After a while, my attention turned away from my notebook and my eyes instinctively darted towards the window once again. This time, I saw a young lady wearing a simple, black salwar kameez standing in the front of an inconspicious, dilapidated building holding an umbrella, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. She closed her eyes and extended her hand a little to feel the rain on her palm. She was enjoying the rain thoroughly—I came to this conclusion after having observed her for quite some time. She looked so calm and so peaceful whereas stress and anxiety were taking the best of me.
I watched her with envy. I traced my fingers gently across the window pane to feel the rain which seemed so near me. But all I could feel was the glass, not the rain. The glass acted as the barrier between me and the soothing rain. However much I tried I couldn't thus enjoy the rain. And someone could.
When the minibus passed her, my best friend who was sitting beside me began ranting on about how sad, gloomy, and depressing rains always are.
Author Notes: This little tale is absolutely true and based on the happenings of 27th October, 2016. Just some little details have been altered to give it a more literary impression. The narrator's the true me. That day was rainy in many parts of Bangladesh due to the fact that Cyclone Kayant is heading towards South Asia.