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The Neem Tree – Indra Anantha Krishna

The Neem Tree - Indra Anantha Krishna - Characters, Quotes, Important Lines from the following works of Indian Authors.

The Neem Tree

Adapted from: Indira Anantha Krishna

The month of April was warm and summer had just set in; the neem tree was in bloom. Malar gazed through the window at the neem tree and totally forgot herself. The tree was so beautiful! Suddenly, the teacher’s harsh voice thundered. “Malar! I’ve called your name twice already and you’ve not answered.” Her thoughts swung back to the classroom.

“Yes, teacher, ” said Malar.

“Malar! You will never learn anything if you keep on dreaming in the class,” remarked her teacher. Malar stood up silently, her head down.

“Sit down,” said the teacher and continued the lesson “It isn’t true,” said Malar to herself as she sat down. “I do try to pay attention, but I don’t think dreaming is bad.” She swallowed a lump in her throat and began to pay attention to the lesson- At the end of the class the teacher announced, “Before we close for summer, we will entertain ourselves as we usually do, with a song, dance and drama show. “The children clapped their hands joyfully.

“Who’d like to participate?” asked the teacher A few enthusiastic hands went up.

“Malar? You too..,?’ I asked the teacher, raising her eyebrows.

Malar nodded, her right hand raised high.

Her grandmother’s words echoed in her ears, “Keep your flag flying high. You will do well!”

“What would you like to do, Malar?” asked the teacher doubtfully. Malar answered promptly.

“Act in a play”,

‘Well… I must see where we can fit you in,” said the teacher, her voice still ringing with doubt. “Or… or… dance.” The girls giggled. One of them said, She will start day dreaming on the stage, too !”

“We’ll see about that,” replied the teacher evasively. The bell rang. It was break time and the class dispersed. Malar and Nila ran out hand in hand. They ran to the row of trees that provided shade for the children. They ran in and out of the row of trees. Malar loved the white flowers of the neem tree. She thought that the green leaves of the neem tree were dotted like pearls by the tiny flowers of the neem trees Suddenly, Nila stopped running and pointed upto one of the trees.

Characters:

 

Malar – A little girl.

Nila – Malar’s friend

“Look, Malar she said. Malar gazed.

“Strange, isn’t it?

” she said after a moment, There are marks on th is tree “Malar nodded wordlessly,” There were a few red marks on the neem tree The girls continued to run and play ‘Malar, are you really going to participate in our class dance?” asked Nila.

“Why not?” Malar replied briefly.

“But you must remember all the steps,” said Nila.

‘Yes, I will,” said Malar. Her eyes glistened and she controlled her tears silently.

“I need help to do that,” she thought to herself. “But I dont know from whom

I can get it!”

The following day, the teacher put down Malar’s name for group dancing. She called Malar to her side and said,” You must carefully follow the dance teacher’s instructions and do exactly what she tells you to do.

Malar was elated and decided to give her best, During the dance practice, the teacher taught the girls to stand in a circle and move inward and outward in step with the music, The movements were easy and the girls danced Joyfully. Malar was very happy. The tempo gradually Increased. Suddenly, the teacher cried, “Stop; please stop” The girls froze.

“Malar has fallen out of step. Start all overagain.” Malar looked around in dismay. The girls frowned and looked angrily at Malar. Her confidence had gone. She made many mistakes. Each time Malar made a mistake, the teacher made the whole group do the dance again. As the girls dispersed, the dance teacher called Malar and said, “I think you should ask your teacher to give you some other role”.”Why teacher?” Malar asked, hurt and annoyed. She had tried so hard!

“Never mind. I will talk to your class teacher, ” said the dance teacher and went away. Malar did not move. She stared vacantly and “Come on, lets go. Don’t worry…” before Nila could finish Malar voiced, “I’m not good at anything, am I?” She bit her lower lip. Nila smiled at Malar, and both of them went hand in hand towards their classroom. On the way they stopped near the row of trees, There were men standing near the marked neem tree. The girls overheard their conversation . “Principal Madam wants this tree to be cut,” said one of the men,

“Why?” enquired Malar, anxiously.

“We are going to build a new toilet here,” he replied.

“N … oooo, You cant cut the tree. .,,’ she cried and put her hands around the tree.

“Principal’s orders,” said one of them. He felt sorry for Malar,

“Oh!” Malar sighed sadly. She forgot to go to her Class teacher. She took Nila along and rushed to the Principal’s office. She pleaded with the Prindpal and requested her not to cut down a living tree.

“It needs to be cut, child,” the Principal explained , “We need more toilets.

“Why don’t we choose some other place?” Malar asked. The Principal looked thoughtfully at Malar. “I appreciate your love for the tree,” she said. She agreed to keep the tree for some more time. Malar was overjoyed. The next day, the class teacher summoned Malar and told her, “I’ll give you the role of the curtain raiser”. The class laughed.

“What’s that?” asked Malar, puzzled.

The teacher smiled and said, “Backstage, you’ll have to pull the curtains at the start of each item, and draw them at the close of the item.” “That means the audience is not going to see me?”asked Malar. The teacher nodded. Malar’s face fell. This is the best I can do for you, now, Malar,” the teacher replied. “In this way you need not fear about any wrong movements on the stage. But you have to be alert and pull the curtain strings in the right way at the right time. Please don’t start dreaming.” Malar suppressed her tears and said, “Teacher, may I be given another chance?”

“There is no time. Please don’t argue.”

Malar went home sadly. Her grandmother had made her favorite bajjis for tiffin. “What role are you going to play?” she asked eagerly. Malar ran and hugged her, and told her everything.

Remember what I have told you. Keep your flag flying high. Dont give up,”she said.

The next day, when Malar went to her class she saw her teacher talking to the Principal about the cultural program, “Come, Malar!” said the Principal kindly What are you going to do for the Cultural Programme?” she asked. Malar started crying She remembered her grandmother’s words. She looked at her teacher. Please give me another chance to dance” she said.

“She is not able to cope with the steps, Ma’am,” said the class teacher.

Something burst inside Malar.

“l can cope up” she said,”Just because I take time, doesn’t mean that I am unfit” Malar looked through the window at the neem tree. “I am like the tree,” she said. “Can I not be helped to be part of the dance? Why must I be removed?”

The Principal understood. “Of course you can be part of the dance,” she said. “Do

help her” she told the teacher.

The teacher agreed.

“And here’s some good news for you, added the Principal “We have chosen another place to build the toilets. Your tree will survive.” Malar’s grandmother came to the cultural show. When the show was over, there was loud applause. All the participants were congratulated.

The teacher told Malar’s grandmother, “Malar gave her the best she hadn’t played her part well, the entire show would have been a mess.” Malar’s face was flushed . She was so happy!

The following day was the last day of school. Classrooms were cleaned and locked. All the students bid farewell to one another and began to leave. For a longtime, Malar stood looking at the neem tree. She would not be seeing it for a couple of months. The blossoms were bewitching.

Suddenly. Malar felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned round and saw the

Principal smiling at her. “Beautiful, aren’t they? she asked. You are a bright, beautiful blossom too. Remember, Malar, you’re a winner – we can all be winners. Nobody has to lose the race.” The Principal patted Malays cheeks and said, “Happy holidays, girl.”

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