“Mom, I am already late. I do not have time for this, I will have something in the canteen”, exclaimed Avantika, pushing away the glass of milk that her mother lovingly brought to her. Jyotika, who was sitting at the dinning table looked at her sister with a sense of awe as always.
Her sister Avantika, who was two years elder to her was a charmer. She was pretty with those big expressive eyes and long curls which further accentuated her beauty and added a mystic element to her persona. She was an all rounder, college President and a gifted stage artist. She was the star performer of the college theatre group ‘Goonj’.
Jyotika on the other hand was what she liked to think in her head ‘A Plain Jane’. She was an average student and was not very outgoing. She was demure and was one of those individuals who preferred not to stand out in a crowd. The very thought of being in the spotlight unnerved her. As far as she could remember, she had been living in the shadows of her elder sister. She was not jealous of Avantika, in fact she looked upto her. But owing to her elder sister’s knack of being a perfectionist , Jyotika often considered herself insignificant and worthless.
Her parents loved the two of them equally but inadvertently everyone talked about Avanika. Jyotika did not blame anyone but herself for this. Had she been gifted with some kind of talent , had she brought some laurels, however paltry, people would have stopped and noticed her presence. She despised herself for being the ‘mediocre’ person that she was.
Jyotika was restrained and shy in front of people. But, furtively she also dreamt of acting in one of those plays, in which her sister acted. She would often stand in front of the mirror and enact lines from the plays she would watch her sister perform in. Her favourite was the portrayal of Olivia in Twelfth Night. Avantika had played the part with such flair that Jyotika was spellbound. She was fascinated as to how the characters disguised themselves and wore the garb of a different person, just like that. How she wish she could do the same and become someone else, even if for a day. But, alas, such things do not transpire in the real world.
Jyotika and Avantika studied in the same college. Avantika was unarguably one of the most popular girls of the college. Today, as Jyotika made way towards her class, she could sense that the college was abuzz with activities. The annual fest ‘Rendevouz’ was to commence in a couple of days.
After a day packed with back to back classes Jyotika reached home, exhausted. As she plonked on the living room sofa, she saw her mom frantically looking for something. “Mom, what are you looking for?”, she enquired. “Beta, do you know where the first aid box is? Avantika is down with fever.”
Next day the entire family was in the hospital as Avantika was diagnosed with Malaria. As Jyotika sat next to her sister, holding her hand, she could see her listless eyes which were usually full of life. “Hey, you will be fine, di, why do you look so upset”. Avantika smiled and told her that she was very excited about the re enactment of the play Twelfth night in the college fest. “It was such a huge success the last time we performed and I so wanted to be a part of it on a bigger podium like this where so many other colleges were participating as well”, Avantika said, with a tinge of sadness.
“The group will have to suffer because of me. How will they find another actor at such a short notice?”.
“Do not worry di, they will find another Olivia soon, not as good as you are, but they will.”, Jyotika made an earnest attempt to console her sister. Suddenly, as if on a whim, Avantika uttered, “Hey, Jyotika, why don’t you play that part. I know you practice Olivia’s lines secretly in your room. Sorry for eavesdropping, but I know you know most of the lines. I will call Akash and tell him we have found our Olivia. You will be perfect”, she exclaimed with a surge of excitement.
Jyotika looked at her sister unbelievingly. How could she be so confident that I could act in front of all those people. “But di, how will I? I am not that good. Besides I will be nervous”.
“Don’t you worry, I will help you. All those jitters will vanish once you step on the stage. Trust me, ok”.
The next couple of days, were like a dream for Jyotika. She took centre stage , practiced her lines. She was Olivia. The feeling was still sinking in.
On the day of the play, her parents came to cheer her. Jyotika played the part beautifully. She was not that bad, she thought. For her the very fact that she faced a hall brimming with people , was an achievement it itself.
As her parents embraced her lovingly, complimenting her for her performance, she wondered, ‘If I had low self esteem, how could I have done what I did tonight?’
She had conquered her fears and unshackled the chains that had hitherto pulled her down.
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!