Maya has moved to a new city and a new school. She has no friends, but in this story we learn an important lesson in how to overcome your fears.

Her name was announced. Her shanks felt light. Her vision blurred. Her heart thumped vehemently. To add to her dismay, she became aware of herself breathing heavily. However, Maya gathered courage and proceeded to the colossal, but magnificent stage of the main auditorium of her school. It was a cool winter morning, but Maya did not need any cold cream to moisturise her skin, as sweat from panic flowed down her face galore! Her school annual function was being held that morning and she was invited to sing the inaugural song by her class teacher.

Maya was a very talented girl. She was an exceptionally good singer with one of the sweetest voices of this world. Though not formally trained she could pick any song regardless of its genre with great élan.

A new student of the sixth standard of Vidyasagar High School, Mumbai, she had not fully adjusted to her new school. A few months ago, her parents had brought her from Jamunapur, a small village, where she lived with her grandmother, after the veteran expired. She was a simple girl at heart and missed her old friends. Her naiveté often made her an object of ridicule amongst some of her classmates. They cracked jokes at her expense. She was hurt and lonely. The behaviour of her class-fellows crushed her self-confidence and self-esteem. Of course, there were some classmates who were quite friendly and helpful, but being a sensitive girl, she could not stand the bullying, though it was only by a few students and she withdrew into a shell.

The nervous giant - overcome your fearsOne day, during games period, while all her classmates were playing kho-kho, the uninvited Maya felt lonely and went to a corner chair and sat down. Being of a cheerful disposition by nature, Maya started thinking of pleasant things and in a short while started humming some of her favourite numbers. She did not realise that the period was over and it was time for her to return to her classroom, till her games teacher gently patted her out of her reverie and gently reminded her with a smile that she had to return to her class. The next morning, her class teacher summoned her and told her that she was selected to sing the inaugural song of the school annual function. Surprised and feeling awkward Maya asked her teacher, “Madam, who told you that I sing?” “Your games teacher told me! She heard you humming a beautiful number yesterday. You have a lovely voice and sing exceptionally well,” said her teacher with a grin.

Ever since she accepted the invitation, Maya spent sleepless nights. Her only thought was whether her “smart” city friends would make fun of her for singing. This thought kept gnawing at her for the next one week and peaked in the morning of the actual performance.

Maya walked up to the stage. She took the microphone with trembling hands. She was rudely shocked to see that the tremor was now transferred to her beautiful voice and she was sounding very funny. Her classmates, who were in the audience, booed her and many others followed suit. Tears welled up in Maya’s eyes. She stopped singing and ran to a corner, away from the public, weeping uncontrollably. It was too much for that delicate and innocent little girl to bear such humiliation.

The nervous giant - overcome your fears

Mrs. Ghosh, the school principle who was watching the proceedings of the function from the VIP gallery of the auditorium calmly walked up to the stage and called Maya back. Maya, who looked a bit composed now, was led by her teacher to the stage. Lovingly, Mrs. Ghosh asked Maya to take a position by her side. Maya gingerly did her principal’s bidding. Mrs. Ghosh gently ran a hand over Maya’s head and addressed the school:

Dear Students,

It is very nice to see you all gathered here for celebrating the annual day of our school. However, I am sorry to note that some of you have let me down by behaving badly with Maya, your classmate and friend, who joined this school a few months ago. Do you know that as a human being, your most valuable possession is your character and etiquette? Talent, educational qualifications and materialistic possessions take a second place to character and etiquettes. One does not become great in life, by laughing at another person, but by helping that person overcome his / her difficulties. Maya is a highly talented girl. She is a musical giant. It was only her nervousness that made her perform badly. By laughing at her, you have killed her self-confidence due to which she performed badly. Are you aware that our country has many talented children who have, unfortunately not come up in life as they are intimidated by the harshness of social ridicule? Instead of laughing, had you encouraged her singing, you would have let her stage-fear vanish and got to hear a beautiful song and our programme would have been a great success. Going forward, you all should accept Maya as your friend and classmate and help her become a great singer of our school. You will see that one day she will make you proud for doing that.

The nervous giant - overcome your fearsMrs. Ghosh ended her speech and asked Maya to resume her song and returned to her seat. The principal’s words had a magical effect on Maya. They eased her breath, her hands stopped shivering and energy returned to her shanks. She stood firm and erect on the ground and sang with a zeal that she never knew before. The resounding applause from her classmates that ensued overwhelmed her. Maya found herself with a number of friends ever after.

The next day, Maya went to her principal’s chamber to thank her for making the school a wonderful place for her. Mrs. Ghosh smiled and told Maya, “Dear girl, you will come across different kinds of people and situations in life. Some will love you and some will hurt you. You should be strong enough to face criticism and never let it ruin your self-esteem or self-confidence, because each human being is a beautiful and unique creation of God.”

Word Meanings :

  • élan – flair, elegance
  • genre – a style of fine art( music, painting, etc)
  • naiveté – lack of sophistication

Values learnt:

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Background music: Sunset (Kai Engel) / CC BY 4.0
The nervous giant – overcome your fears
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