Highly Commended Story - The Smile
“The Smile” by Aashay Jain, GEMS Millennium School, Sharjah, UAE, is the Highly Commended story in the sub-junior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2020.
Aashay Jain is a Grade 3 student of GEMS Millennium School, Sharjah. He has a hobby of story writing. While writing a story he thinks outside the box as his school teachers taught him to be creative and innovative. He speaks English, Kannada, Hindi & Arabic. He has a dream that one day he would be able to sell his story books and give it to charity so that it will help the needy people.
Smile… It was that beautiful smile that I always remember. That pure, blissful smile made me what I am today and that smile changed everything in my life.
If there is anything that I could remember distinctly till date in my life is my mother’s smile. There is nothing that could match that smile of hers. It was her smile that I saw the first thing and the last thing every day. It was her smile that made me eat my breakfast without complaining, got me ready to school, go with confidence to face all my challenges at school and be successful. Her smile did all the magic.
I was in grade 7 and was the topper of my class in academics, sports, oratorical contests, singing, music…. name it and I was there. Friends surrounded me everywhere and I was the star of the school. My parents started creating special spaces at home to display all my medals, certificates and awards. My house was always a busy place. My friends were with me all the time. Guests who came home, teachers who met my parents, friends and everyone who met my parents always had these words to say, ‘You have a very talented child. You are very lucky.’ I was filled with happiness and pride when I heard these words and I knew that I had made my parents very happy.
My ambitions grew and I wanted to have nothing but the best in my life. I listed my priorities and started focusing on my success and tried to keep away anything that would distract me from achieving the first position in everything. And with all the conviction and the hard work, I did it, I topped in everything and I was very proud of everything I did. My friends and everyone felt a sense of pride when they said that I was known to them. I became a reference point for everyone for success.
Days rolled by, and I grew stronger and smarter and I was no match for anyone in any field. Things were fine until one day. I came back home with an award I won for standing first in the elocution competition at school. Filled with pride, I gave it to my mother and waited for her beautiful smile. She smiled and congratulated me and asked, ‘Did you friends participate in the race? Did they run the race with you? What were their positions in the race?’ I was a little irritated. I have won the first place and why would my mother want to know about my friends. In fact, I do not even remember who was second and third or who participated because I was focused to be the first and the other positions were of no significance to me. I managed to tell her that I was very tired and I do not remember everything.
I started noticing a change in my mother, especially her smile. It was not the same lovely smile that I used to see. She started asking about my friends who were average achievers and who I do not even consider my equals now. I do not even know where they sit in my classroom. I was meant to be the first and I did not want to look back to see who was behind. I started ignoring her questions about my friends and I managed to change the topic. One day, it was too much to handle when I was getting ready for the sports competition when she asked why I was not practicing with my loser friends. I could not control myself and I burst out. I told my mother that I was meant to be the first and I had no business to be with friends who are not ambitious. They were wasting their time playing in the field, studying in groups, laughing and at times doing nothing but being together. This is definitely not life. It should be filled with gathering knowledge and continuous achievements and that is what makes a person successful. My mother patiently listened to me and told me that in the name of success I have become like a horse with blinds that makes its vision focus only on what is in front and not bother about what is around. I have forgotten to enjoy the simple little things in life like laughing and smiling, spending time and helping my friends in their difficulty, being their support, learning together etc… She said that a human being becomes a good person not with their success but with the love that he/she shares with one another and by achieving together.
I was on the track field the next day at school ready to run the 200m running race. The race began and in no time, I was in lead. Suddenly, I heard my friend fall to the ground. I turned around and saw that he was trying to get on his feet to finish the race. With no second thoughts I ran to him, lifted him and helped him finish the race. The race was over and I had forgotten about everything. But the crowd did stop cheering. I then realized that they were cheering not for the winners but for my friend and I who were trying to finish the race. Believe me I felt like a champion that day. I realized the true meaning of a winner that moment. I helped my friend to sit down and relax and while doing so in the corner of my eye, I knew there was someone who was looking at me. My eyes turned around to look who it was. It was my mother. Her eyes were filled with tears and there I saw what I have not seen for years. Her heavenly smile and her smile said it all.