Children looked at me shyly when I smiled at them. I approached them with a mike in my hand asking them to speak to me. I could hear myself loud and clear. Four of them stood with their backs rested against the glass cover of a pastry stand, all facing me with a twinkle in their eyes. Pastry and cakes forgotten, hunger paused. It seemed like they wanted to say something but stage fright held them back, they looked at each other, rolling their eyes, pursing their lips, each of them waiting for their friend to speak.
The first word was difficult to extract and I invented different questions to break the spell. What is your name? What did you do today? Do you know to sing? Do you know any poem? What is your friend’s name and finally asking the child his friend’s name did the trick. One child introduced his friend telling me that his friend was very talented and knew lots of riddles. “Say na, say”, he cajoled his friend. And she spoke, hesitating at first, faltering at every word. When I handed her the mike, she was confident. She spoke with pride, relating the story she had read some days back, her friends listened carefully, nudging her when she erred and later filled in the missing lines. Their fear fizzled out in thin air, shyness wrapped and put away, their muse emerged and all started to talk at once, louder each time, hoping to be heard.
Soon every child wanted his moment of two minutes fame.