The Day I Learnt the Meaning of Being Famous

Denny was caught again today — red handed. He used to be very careful, but not sure what went wrong this time and Mrs. D’Mello was standing just behind him. The next moment they were in the room of Mr. Fernandez, the head of the middle sections of Denny’s school.

“Again?” asked Mr. Fernandez.  “This is the last warning. If you are caught doing it again, you will not continue in this school. Is that clear?” Mr. Fernandez said in a firm voice. Denny gently nodded and quietly left the room.

Denny could not focus on his classes and kept thinking about the incident. He didn’t talk to his friends during the lunch break, didn’t snatch anyone’s lunch, didn’t tease Myra, Didn’t push Martin and didn’t even ask a single question in Ms. Mikaayel’s science class.

He was so upset that everyone noticed. He didn’t want anyone to know, but all his friends realized that there was something wrong.

Even Ms. Mikaayel noticed.

“You seem very upset today. What’s wrong Denny?” asked Mrs. Mikaayel in her usual sweet voice.

Ms. Mikaayel was one of the teachers Denny liked. She has been very gentle with every child, was a great listener and had simple solutions for even complex problems.

Denny was not in a mood to talk about the incident. “Nothing, Ms. Mikaayel. It’s not such a big deal. I am fine,” Denny said. 

Ms. Mikaayel knew that something was bothering Denny, but she won’t be able to help, unless he tells him about the issue that’s troubling him.

“Maybe I could help,” said Ms. Mikaayel. “May be I could offer a solution to your problem. For that, I would need to know what happened.”

Denny thought for a while, and decided to accept the offer. May be there could be a better solution, which he is not able to see.

“Is there anything wrong in making an effort to become famous?” Denny asked Ms. Mikaayel.

“Absolutely not,” said Ms. Mikaayel. “It’s a good thing. But, it all depends on the manner you want to be famous. And what you want to focus on to become famous.”

“But Mrs. D’Mello doesn’t want me to become famous,” said Denny. “I was writing my name on the big flower pot near the swing, but Mrs. D’Mello saw me doing that and took me to Mr. Fernandez, who has warned me that I would be expelled the next time.”

Ms. Mikaayel was trying to fully understand the problem. “So you want to become famous by writing your name at various places in the school?” she asked. “And you think this is the best way to become famous?”

“Indeed,” said Denny. “And there is nothing wrong in that. I just want people to remember me even after I leave the school.”

“That’s the reason I have been writing my name by sharp objects on school desks, benches, trees, walls, toilets mirror, gates, doors, flower pots, swings, statues and notice boards. I don’t understand why they are so fussy about it? It’s just my name. I am not doing any harm to anyone. I just want to be famous. Very famous,” Deny said.

Ms. Mikaayel took a deep breath as she understood the problem. She paused for a minute and then said. “Denny, I have a better solution for you. Would you like to give it a try?”

“Could there be a better solution?” asked Denny.

“If you write your name on those weird objects, they will be wiped out over time. The walls could be repainted, furniture could be refurnished, trees could be cut and flower pots could break,” said Ms. Mikaayel. “You need something permanent that stays forever. And it should be for some achievement. Then people will remember you for that particular quality,” she said.

“How could I do that?” wondered Denny.

“Come with me,” Ms. Mikaayel said. She took Denny to the principal’s well-decorated office room, which was full of books, trophies, medals and pictures on the wall.

“Look at the Honours Board on the wall,” said Ms. Mikaayel. “It lists the names of all those students who received gold medals for studies. Their names are going to stay forever. You should try to get your name on the board. And that will really make you famous,” she said.

Denny never thought about this aspect. He always thought that writing his name everywhere will make him famous. That’s the reason he was scribbling his name on historical monuments when he was on vacation with his family. He even wrote his name on the wall of a super store, on the gate of a public library, on the seat of a long-distance bus and on the mirror of a train.

“That sounds interesting. I never thought about this,” Denny said. “If I get my name on that board, everyone will come to know about me and there will not be a risk of my name getting washed out in the rain,” Denny continued.  He was in a deep thought by now.

“I will take it as a challenge and do it,” Denny said. “By the end of the year, you will see my name on that board Ms. Mikaayel.”

Denny was a changed boy after that day. He stayed away from video games, didn’t spend too much time in gossiping with his friends, almost stopped watching TV and focused on his studies. He worked hard in the school, consulted teachers for any problem and remained attentive in the class.

Finally the exam day came. Denny was very nervous but he was confident as he had really worked hard this year.

All the exams went well. He felt relived. Now he had to wait for the final result.

And the day arrived. The principal had called a general assembly to announce the list of the students who came first. He kept on reading names, and the turn of Denny’s class was approaching.  Denny closed his eyes as he was not able to control the anxiety.

“Denny D’souza of class 8,” the principal’s deep voice filled the hall. Denny heard continuous clapping. His friends were cheering him up. Everyone was congratulating him.

“I am really famous now. And this one is not artificial,” Denny thought.

Penned by P. Malyanil

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