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     Shabnam, a tall girl, was their first runner. She would pass the baton to Neelam, Neelam would pass it to Aruna, and Aruna to Rucha, who would be finishing the race for them. The whistle blew and the first runners were off. With her long strides, Shabnam gave the team a marginal lead. But by the time Neelam had passed the baton to Aruna, both Team A and D had drawn level with her. Then, the runner of Team D fumbled and dropped the baton. Aruna ran for all she was worth, just managing to keep abreast of the runner of the Team A.
     Finally, the baton was in Rucha’s hand. She had already noted with dismay that she was pitted against ‘P.T. Usha’ of Team A. “Just my luck” the thought had flashed through her mind. She had quickly put that thought aside, and when the baton was passed to her, she was more than ready. She heard the shouts of her schoolmates, “Rucha, come on! Ru...cha! Ru...cha!” Out of the corner of her eye, Rucha saw ‘P.T. Usha’ trying to overtake her.
     Fleetingly, she thought, ‘Not again!’ Then Prakash Sir’s words came to her: ‘Think to win!’ The next moment, Rucha was conscious of nothing except the tape at the finishing line which she had to reach. Totally absorbed, she ran, she lost track of time and distance.
     She ran on, not conscious of the fact that the race was over till Aruna called out to her, “Rucha, you have won! We have won!” And she was hugging and kissing her. Prakash Sir was beaming at her and everyone was applauding her. Even ‘P.T. Usha’ came over to shake her hand.
     “I thought I was fast, but you were simply superb” she shook hands with her. It is always a proud moment for the winner of a medal when she is called to the victory stand, but for Rucha, it had a double meaning. She had overcome her hesitations and denials. She could win whenever she chose to!
Shabnam was a tall girl in their team. She went first, followed by Neelam, Aruna and finally Rucha who would finish the race for the team. The whistle was blown, indicating the race to start. Shabnam took long strides, as taught by Prakash Sir, so they were able to get a small lead, ahead of other teams. She passed the baton to Neelam and when Neelam passed the baton to Aruna, both teams A and D had come in level with Rucha's team, Team B. They did not have much of a lead now. Team D's runner suddenly dropped the baton clumsily and lost some time in it. Aruna took it as an advantage to gain a lead and tried her best to keep side by side, to the runner of Team A.
Pass the baton - flydragon Shutterstock.jpg
*Baton passing sequence - first was Shabnam, then Neelam, Aruna and finally Rucha!
Finally, it was Rucha's turn. She had to compete with the "P.T. Usha" of Team A, Springfields team fastest runner, as mentioned by Shabnam earlier. Rucha thought it was her bad luck that she had to compete with the fastest runner. But she immediately put the thought aside, and she got ready for the race. Her schoolmates were cheering for her "Rucha, come on! Ru...cha!" She also noted that "P.T. Usha" of that team was trying to overtake her.
For a brief time, she thought she should not let the negative thoughts come back to her. She remembered Prakash Sir's voice "Think to Win!" The next minute Rucha saw nothing but the finishing line that she had to reach. She was totally into winning thoughts that she did not note the time nor the distance she was running. She ran on and on that she was not even aware of the fact that she had crossed the finishing line! She realized when Aruna called her name and told her that she had won and the team had won. She was hugging and kissing Rucha out of delight. Prakash Sir gave her a big smile, and everybody appreciated her. Even "P.T. Usha" came forward to congratulate her.
finishing line.png
Rucha was conscious of nothing except the tape at the finishing line!
She said she thought she was fast, but Rucha was simply superb! And she shook hands with her. It was not only a proud moment for Rucha as the medal winner, but it also had more meaning for her, as she went up to the stage. She had fought over her reluctance and self-doubts. She understood that she could win whenever she wanted to.
Meanings of difficult words:
fumbleddo or handle something clumsily
abreastside by side and facing the same way
fleetinglyfor a very short time
absorbedtotally taken in
beamingsmiling broadly
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-2 English Standard-6. Think to Win (pp. 101-108). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.
*Image courtesy: flydragon /